I’m Aimee and I am a Software Engineer at BGL Group. I’m currently working in IDO on rebuilding our car insurance journeys. I joined BGL Group in September 2018 as a Junior Software Engineer Apprentice, completed my apprenticeship in December 2019, and became a Software Engineer in January 2020.
I wasn’t even looking for a change in career when I applied to the apprenticeship. I was working as a support technician at another company working with PowerShell, a scripting and automation based language for Windows machines. At the time, I had one line of code I would run as part of a manual process to transfer accounts from one platform to another. After a few months of running this same command, I began to see ways of using PowerShell to make my job easier and to automate some of the more tedious tasks I had to do regularly.
That’s when a friend of mine mentioned a software engineering apprenticeship at BGL and applications just so happened to be open. I filled in an application just to see what would happen and before I knew it, I had an interview. I quickly realised that I had caught the coding bug and I could not see myself working in a job where I wasn’t coding!
I completed my Level 4 apprenticeship last December, but I was working on projects long before that. When I first joined BGL, I enrolled into a coding bootcamp provided by Makers Academy. BGL supported me by providing accommodation in London for the three months of the bootcamp program. I also had regular contact with some of my colleagues back in the office if I needed any extra help. When I came back from bootcamp, I joined a fairly new project that had been running for two years at that point and helped to rebuild our car insurance journeys for our brands for just over a year. Although I had begun learning the programming language ‘C#’ during my time at bootcamp, I spent the next year gaining a greater understanding of this and continue to work mostly in C# now.
I also worked on a side project that was used to display employees and teams in an organisational chart structure. The data for this was taken from an Excel spreadsheet so allowed me to gain experience in transforming data and building functionality to support file uploads. Whilst I was still working in C# for this project, I used .NET Core instead of .NET Framework which worked slightly differently to what I was already used to.
Most recently, I worked on starting and building My Account, our service that allows customers to view their insurance policies and make changes to them. As part of this project, I became a subject matter expert on our authentication process.
I still got to make use of my experience in PowerShell and I built another console application that would help the other developers update components across all our web applications. This reduced a manual process to an automated task that saves around five minutes per application. Right now, we have around 14 applications so this time adds up!
What challenges or barriers did you have to overcome?
Impostor syndrome was the biggest challenge for me. There were many times during my apprenticeship and subsequent role that I felt like I wasn’t good enough and it was only a matter of time before I was found out. I am still nowhere near the point of saying goodbye to imposter syndrome, but it gets easier to manage with time and experience. Having a support network of over 1500 ex-Makers students as well as the coaches I worked with during bootcamp makes things easier as it’s something we have all experienced. I know that I can reach out to them if I need any support.
What are you doing now as a software engineer?
The Technology Enablement project is coming to an end so I have moved to a new team. We are responsible for improving our development and delivery pipeline. This mostly involves finding ways to automate our release process and speed up our development time.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start a career in software engineering?
If you’re thinking of starting a career in software engineering and you’re not sure if it’s for you then I would recommend trying some of the coding challenges that are available online such as Codeacademy, Codewars, or freeCodeCamp. Most of them don’t require any software to run and you’ll soon find out if you’ve caught the bug or not. Be prepared to get stuck and don’t worry if you skip over a few (or many!) challenges, we are all novices at some point.
There will always be something new to learn so don’t be put off if you don’t know everything about software engineering, no-one does. I have met many people who are experts with specific languages, concepts or architecture but are simultaneously complete novices with others.
Interested in becoming a software engineer? Why not register your interest for our upcoming software apprenticeship programmes here