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From an interest in coding to a career

Landing a Job in Software Engineering

Technical Talent Manager

If you’re here, the chances are you’re considering a career in tech. Hopefully you’ve already tried your hand at writing some code, if not  - now’s the time to start.

I’ve been exactly where you are now. Thinking that I wanted to learn to code, not knowing if it’s right for me, or even where to start. I’ll share the few pearls of wisdom I have with you.

How do I know if software engineering is for me?

The first piece of advice I’d give, is not to think of software engineering as this big scary thing that’s reserved for people that are amazing at maths and have years of tech experience. Essentially, coding is about problem solving. If you’ve got a logical mindset, enjoy problem solving and continuous learning then it might be for you. Essentially, you won’t really know until you try.

There are loads of free resources out there to learn the basics of coding in almost every language you can think of. Codecademy & Sololearn are two that I really like. Once you’ve got the basics down, head over to CodeWars and put what you’ve learned to the test!

How can I get experience?

Experience doesn’t have to be from a full time role, although that’s always a bonus. Have you considered starting a personal project? This could be building a website for yourself or someone you know, building a to-do-list app or creating a tic-tac-toe game. An important part of this process is to track your progress and start to build a portfolio. I’d suggest creating a GitHub profile to do this. If you don’t know what GitHub is, there’s an online course for that too! (Google really is your friend).

How am I meant to practice coding by myself?

Three of my favourite words are; ‘learn by doing’. However, this doesn’t need to be a lonely journey. Contrary to popular belief, coding is a team sport. If you know someone else who is learning to code or working as a developer, pair program with them.

Jump on Google, and search for coding meet-ups near you. This is a great way to accelerate your development and get comfortable with communicating as you code.

I think I’m ready to take this seriously now, what should I do?

So, you’ve been enjoying learning to code and you’re wanting to kick-start your career. If you’re here, it means you’re considering the apprenticeship route. The most important thing is that you learn in the academic and professional environment that will set you up for success. Whatever you decide as your next steps, there are few things to remember when making applications:

  1. When speaking about personal projects, don’t just focus on what it was that you created. What you learned from the experience is more valuable. What went well? What challenges did you overcome and how? What would you do differently next time? Carry this approach through into the interview stage as well so you give the emplpyer a good idea of how you've applied your skills.
  2. Don’t get lost only talking about code. What experience do you have to show that you’re a confident communicator that’s committed to learning and skilled at problem solving. Your other experience is valuable too!
  3. Don’t get frustrated with not knowing things. Employers don’t expect you to know everything about a particular language. What you do when faced with an unfamiliar challenge is just as important as what you know. What’s your approach to finding the missing piece of the puzzle? How do you search for things? (Googling is an art!)
“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes and keep on learning” - Carol Dweck
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