Should I change career and learn coding?

Blogger Claire Smith.
Blogger Claire Smith.
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After taking the bold decision to change career, Claire Smith, dived into the world of coding at CodeClan.

Two weeks into her course at Scotland’s first digital skills academy, Claire shares how she learnt to swim in the fast-paced programme and what she hopes to achieve by joining the country’s burgeoning tech sector.

In the last couple of years I have graduated in Japanese and Asian studies at Edinburgh University and during that time I lived in Japan for nearly 2 years.

University didn’t come without its challenges. While doing my final year I became a carer.

Even though this was tough I do believe looking back at it that it has made me a more passionate and driven person.

After University, I felt like I was shoved in a world of endless google searching for jobs.

What career do I want? Who should I work for?

READ MORE: CodeClan appoints its first CEO

Last June I was determined to utilise my degree in order to find the dream career. However, after one particular interview I realised that this path was not making me happy.

It was only until a friend, who - trying to snap me out of a feeling of despair suggested I should look into coding.

Having known my love for learning languages he believed it would be something I would find exciting and challenging.

I began to look at several academies that could help progress my development in learning how to programme.

At the time there was only a few in Britain, with most requiring a move to London and some serious money to cover the fees.

CodeClan gave me another option.

After a brief introduction session and hearing the instructors’ passion for the course I knew the academy was going to be the perfect fit for me.

When I was accepted into CodeClan in November, the team there were very understanding about the fact that I would not be able to start until I was financially stable.

I watched every penny.

Even coffee had to be on a shoestring budget.

During this time, CodeClan had encouraged me to apply for the Be-IT scholarship.

The requirement of the scholarship was to present an idea or your reason for wanting to work for a particular company. I chose to present an idea for an app which would help to reduce food waste in Edinburgh. This was inspired by Food Share, a local group who are driven to increase awareness around the extent of food waste in Edinburgh.

It was an idea that I do want to become a reality as I do believe that British supermarkets will soon have to follow in the footsteps of those in France, where it is illegal to throw away food that can be redistributed.

Eventually the scholarship came through (thank you!).

I can now maybe treat myself to a coffee again. And I now have time to spend with local food sharing communities to develop my idea further.

Also most importantly I am able to throw myself completely into my studies.

The first two weeks have been a whirlpool where you are thrown into the world of coding and you have to learn fast how to swim.

You are introduced to the ‘scrum’ which takes place first thing everyday. It is a time for you to say how you are feeling about what you are currently learning.

Of course the first one was filled with awkward facial expression and everyone not really sure what is expected. But now 2 weeks in and we are all ready to bare our souls in the morning scrums.

You soon learn that whatever you were finding difficult to understand, another person will be thanking you for bringing it up.

During the first week we got to grips with programming language Ruby, and created a programme that would help with logistics of finding products in a warehouse.

I have to admit I was pretty taken aback by how quickly some of my other classmates were grasping the logic of this programme. Alongside Ruby we were also introduced to Test Driven Development (TDD). In other words, being able to conduct various tests for the programme we are working on. I found doing TDD useful in breaking up my code and helping me structure my programme more logically.

It does all take a while to get your head around what is actually happening but after many self drawn diagrams, I managed to grasp the logic.

I know the next few months won’t be easy, but I’m ready for them.

Claire is a student at CodeClan, Scotland’s first digital skills academy dedicated to coding & software development.