‘I wanted to join Scotland’s booming tech sector’

Adam Reid, blogger and student and CodeClan.
Adam Reid, blogger and student and CodeClan.
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Inspired by Scotland’s vibrant technology industry, blogger Adam Reid, 29, quit his job to join Scotland’s first digital skills academy and embark on a complete career change.

Upon completing my studies I worked in a range of roles including pensions administration and recruitment, but I knew they were not what I’d want to be doing forever. 

Edinburgh-based CodeClan. Picture: Jane Barlow

Edinburgh-based CodeClan. Picture: Jane Barlow

So, I’ve recently quit my job and decided to learn to be a software developer.

I studied Accountancy and Finance in 2010 but I never really found a love for the subject and it didn’t engage me enough to dedicate my career to it.

I was keen to find something that not only interested me but would also allow me to continue learning as I worked.

Then when one day I watched one of my friends build his own website and my interest was sparked.

One day I watched one of my friends build his own website and my interest was sparked.

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I’d always loved technology and when my friend gave me a look underneath the bonnet of the website, at the code behind it I found it fascinating.

It was like something out of the Matrix, the strange looking text in front of me was the backbone of what makes websites work.

He assured me that “it really isn’t as hard as it looks, plus there’s good money in it” and recommended I try out some free online tutorials which teach some basic coding, and so one night when I was free I had a go.

Having not come from an IT background I doubted that I’d be able to understand much but after following a tutorial that guided me through building a basic web page. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed writing code, and I found that it is a far more creative process than I had expected.

The digital sector in Scotland is currently growing rapidly and I knew that now would be a great time to get in to software development but I had no idea how to make this happen. So I started looking up courses.

I was attracted by the teaching methods being implemented at CodeClan, specifically the “immersive learning environment” and the high teacher to student ratio that they employ.

CodeClan has the added benefits of being a 16 week course where you study upwards of 55 hours per week, compared to the university lifestyle where you may only have lectures for a few hours per day but over a 2 to 4 year period. The main attraction however, was the close relationship CodeClan has with its employer partners.

The first three weeks are almost over now and so far the course has surpassed my expectations. We have already written many programmes and created web apps where you can pre-order shoes, and another for ordering pizzas. It’s crazy to think that I had no idea how to do all this stuff just two and a half weeks ago and although it’s been hard at times, it’s also been incredibly rewarding. We have also been learning Test Driven Development (TDD) and I think my friend who recommended coding to me is already a little aggrieved that I am in his words “already better at TDD than he is”!

I’m in a cohort of 19 students, and my fears that I might have been joining a class full of “vastly intelligent super-geeks” was well wide of the mark. Everyone is friendly and we are mostly at a similar level of understanding. The instructors are always present, willing to help with any problems and to be honest they seem more like fellow students or colleagues than instructors.

We are encouraged to mingle with the previous cohort who are 8 weeks ahead of us in the learning process, and once a week we are not set any homework and are encouraged to socialise - often in the pub! Even Harvey, the CEO of CodeClan, is present daily and has become a friendly face around the CodeClan base. It’s a great place to learn, it’s like it’s own little community.

My hope is that CodeClan will serve as my gateway into a new and exciting career in coding and it will provide me with the skills, good coding practices and a qualification that will help me to find employment in Scotland’s booming tech sector.

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