Eight months ago I decided to leave my job and pursue my passion for coding. Today, I have officially completed my first four weeks as a Junior Software Engineer at comparethemarket.com; and what a journey it’s been!
From a practical context, this transition involved quitting my job, completing the Makers Academy web development course and being offered a role at comparethemarket.com. From an emotional viewpoint, it involved building my confidence, taking a risk and most importantly — trusting my intuition. A life-changing decision which you can read more about here. So how have my first four weeks in the world of software development been? Let’s begin!
Makers Academy Web Development Bootcamp
I’ll start with how I ended up at comparethemarket.com; when graduating from Makers Academy, there were a number of hiring partners and various roles on offer. So why did CTM become my first choice?
Whilst at Makers Academy, I had the pleasure of meeting Danielle Vass, an Android Developer at CTM who spoke very positively about the business. So when their recruitment team attended the Makers Academy Careers Fair, I was pleased to find out that they were hiring for roles in London. The recruitment team gave me insight into their dynamic working culture and strong focus on learning, something which was of high importance to me. They also highlighted some of their key software principles including the Agile methodology, test-driven development and pairing which I was determined to uphold after Makers Academy.
The Meerkat Family
After conducting further research throughout the recruitment process, I was over the moon to be offered a role! After all, how many people get a chance in life to be adopted into a family of meerkats?
After spending three months learning web development, it might seem surprising that I decided to go for a mobile role. However, with my previous experience of working in mobile marketing, I had long dreamed of exploring what went on behind the Android interface.
Whilst attending an Android workshop run by Danielle I was given an insight into the world of mobile development and I saw some of her fascinating work on the Meerkat Movies application. What I loved most about Android was the combination of the logical Java back end and design-orientated front end. I found Android Studio a fascinating piece of software and loved how something so complex was made so user-friendly.
Settling into the team
When I started working for CTM I had no idea what to expect. I had never worked in a software engineering team before, and despite my experience at Makers Academy, I had a feeling things could be quite different in the real world. However, the most terrifying thing of all was that I had very little experience in mobile development.
Having worked in the team for four weeks, one thing I can say for certain is that I have been pleasantly surprised. There were no expectations that we would have previous mobile knowledge, and so far every single day has been dedicated to learning. Whether through online tutorials, pairing, or discussions with the team, I have been allowed to learn at my own pace. I have been working on both iOS and Android development and will get to choose a path at the end of six weeks. Despite not working on the actual codebase yet, I have truly felt part of the team — through taking part in stand-ups, retros and getting involved in team socials such as lunches, bowling and drinks. Overall, the team have shown me more support than I could have ever asked for.
Despite the great introduction, it has of course been challenging at times. There’s been a lot of new things to learn —from new programming languages, software, concepts and processes to meeting new people, settling into a new culture, understanding team structures and managing expectations. Whilst learning can be great, it can also be exhausting at times.
However, it has been extremely rewarding. I’ve been put outside of my comfort zone, been challenged every day and even when the impostor syndrome kicks in, I try to have a positive outlook and not let it affect my confidence.
So what about successes? In addition to all the points mentioned above, I have been made to feel very welcome by everyone in the business and realised it is a great place to work. I was worried about coming in as a woman in a heavily male-dominated industry, but it is something I have barely noticed and I have not felt like I have been treated differently to anyone else. The learning opportunities have been tremendous and considering the amount I’ve learnt in a month; I can’t even begin to imagine where I’ll be in a year’s time.
After four weeks in the business, the key learnings so far are to ask questions, be honest about what you know and most importantly — be yourself. I still can’t quite believe that I get to wake up every single day and code, build applications, fix bugs and learn a lot of cool stuff for a living.
To summarise — A simples life.