Since switching from a career in marketing to software engineering, lots of people have reached out, asking about my experience. I thought it might be good to share my story, so in this blog post I’ll talk about why and how I made this change, the challenges and rewards, and hopefully provide an insight into what it’s like for those interested in becoming a software engineer!
Taking a leap
After finishing a degree in Commerce, I went on to do a Masters in Global Marketing and soon afterwards began working for a premium drinks company. It was an exciting industry where I got to work with some amazing brands. I was in the career I always thought I wanted.
A few years in, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing and that there was something better out there for me. The prospect of ‘starting again’, at 29, was daunting – especially considering the investment I had put into that path. Regardless, I made up my mind: I would quit my job and find a new one.
It was time to do some research. I spent months thinking about what I wanted, looking at all sorts of jobs online and speaking to people I know. I knew I wanted to learn a skill, something that I could travel with, that offered financial security and would be intellectually challenging. On the phone to my uncle one day, he suggested I look into coding because there was a global demand for software engineers and I wouldn’t have to go back to university, I would just need to know how to code. At that time, I really didn’t have a clue about what being a software engineer involved!
Nevertheless, I began digging into the world of coding and I was so surprised by what I learned. The more I looked into it, the more I realised this was exactly what I was looking for. Someone I knew put me in touch with a coding bootcamp that kickstarted their tech career. I ended up doing a free 5 day coding challenge with the code institute, Ireland, and loved it. I signed up for their three month bootcamp the very next week.
Overall I enjoyed the bootcamp but it wasn’t easy by any means. A huge amount of information was covered in the three months and trying to take it all in, keep up and apply learnings with real projects was overwhelming at times. However, it provided structured learning at an accelerated pace – I started out knowing close to nothing about how to code and finished three months later with a portfolio of solid work. Looking back, this was definitely the best route for me into the industry.
Something I quickly learned after completing the course though was that I didn’t have any kind of golden ticket to a job, even with the high demand for software engineers. As with many starts to a career, landing the first role is the hardest. Most job specs came with a “must have experience” tag as well as difficult technical challenges as a prerequisite to the interview stage. The bootcamp equips you with a diploma and portfolio of work, but you need to do a lot of self-learning and preparation to handle the technical challenges.
A couple of months into my search, I was lucky enough to meet a lady at a tech fair who offered to mentor me. She advised me on how to prepare for interviews as well as doing a few mock interviews and coding challenges with me. This was really valuable and made me feel more confident. Within a couple of months, I moved to the UK for a job offer – nine months after quitting my previous job, I was officially a professional software engineer.
4 years later…
Having come a long way since my bootcamp days, I can safely say I made the right choice switching careers. My engineering skills continue to grow at Rightmove, bolstered by its mentorship programme, weekly time provided for learning and development, and exciting projects.
I love the gratification that comes with solving problems, constantly learning and being challenged. I work on a collaborative team where the Engineers, Product Owner, QA, and Designer all work together to come up with ideas and create great features. Seeing the products we build reach such a large audience and add value to our users and business is really rewarding.
Hopefully I’ve shed some light on what a career move into software engineering can look like. There are lots of ways to learn to code. It isn’t easy. It requires hard work, dedication and, potentially, a significant financial investment. Despite the challenges, it has all been worth it for me!