AUTHOR: Jen Coxall

We’ve spent 7 years on the phone talking to students about advancing their careers and helping them change their lives for the better. In this time, we’ve established ourselves as tech career experts. This has enabled us to create exclusive partnerships with the best training bodies around the world and build relationships with inspiring industry experts.

We want to share their expertise and stories with you, in person. Our code career evenings have been extremely successful in the past with insightful talks and discussions between attendees and industry experts.

We’re thrilled to announce we’re hosting another event in London this October, with some impressive coding speakers coming to join us.

To this day, there are still a number of dangerous misconceptions that surround working in code. We’re working to demystify the industry and set the record straight with the help from some special guests.

Our event is being joined by two inspiring women in code. Alysha Arshad, Software Development Engineer at Microsoft and Jade Alvares, Junior Software Developer at the Natural History Museum. They have different backgrounds in code with impressive journeys that aided them to the amazing roles they have today.

 

Alysha Arshad: Software Development Engineer at Microsoft

 

Alysha3


Tell us about your current coding role


I am 3 months into my industrial placement year at Microsoft’s Commercial Software Engineering Department. My role as a Software Development Engineer within the department enables me to interact with my customers to create real life business solutions using various technology in the AI and ML domain.

How did you get into coding?

Whilst computer science was not my first idea of a career path, I found that it fits very nicely with my personality. Coding offers challenging puzzles, requires logical thinking and success brings a feeling of total euphoria; I feel like I’m in the matrix when I code.


What misconceptions do you find there are about coding careers?

Having spent time in multiple big companies and during my course in computer science, I have come across a lot of stereotypes surrounding technical careers. There is a stigma that programmers are kept out of sight and mind in a small basement room.  You will find in reality, it is completely the opposite and I am determined to change this perception.

 

Jade Alvares: Junior Software Developer at the Natural History Museum

 

Jade3

 

Tell us about your current coding role

I currently work as a software engineer at the Natural History Museum. My work consists of building cool new interactives that are displayed on screens throughout the museum, that either consist of games for children or sources of information that people can click buttons and interact with.  I fix bugs and errors that are found on the museum website as well as producing many Proof of Concept work where I work closely with the UX designer and project manager to brings their ideas and designs to life online.

How did you get into coding?

Before I changed careers I was an account manager for a telecoms firm and found myself increasingly wanting to understand the tech behind the service I was promoting/selling.  I did a lot of presentations on the service, and the more I got to know about the product the more I was fascinated in learning how it was constructed in the first place.

My company at the time did not offer any training to get into the more technical side of things and I felt without any prior knowledge of coding the wealth of information I had access to on the internet would be futile as I would not have a clue where to start.  I already had two degrees and did not feel I had the money and time on yet another degree, so the bootcamp was the best option for me.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I enjoy the power of being able to turn something that may initially sound like a far-fetched idea into a reality.  I did not have a tech background at all prior to learning how to code, and would not know where to begin if I wanted to create a website or application. I love that I can plan this out and feel like I at least would know where to start with an idea.

People forget that coding not only encompasses website and application building but is the basis for computing any hardware that we may be using in our day-to-day lives. I am constantly learning as a programmer and you have to accept that you will never know everything there is to know as tech is always evolving, but that's what makes it so interesting. I find it fascinating that you can learn the fundamentals of programming, and it gives you the tools to specialise in almost any industry.


From Learning People, you’ll meet our Head of Marketing. As well as leading the marketing efforts here, he’s a freelance website developer.

Jonno Cox: Head of Marketing at the Learning People and freelance front end developer

 

Jonno - Freelance website developer

 

Tell us about your current coding role

I’ve been building websites for about 6 years. I find the whole process really rewarding, both financially and creatively. It’s satisfying to know you’re a significant force in helping someone’s business. Your website is your shop window and now more than ever, a website is used to give visibility to a global audience through search engine ranking.

I like problem solving and web design is a big part of that. Developing an idea from a conversation and watching it grow into a tangible money maker is a great feeling.

I’m head of marketing at Learning People, but when I started as a marketing assistant 5 years ago, my key skill set was in coding and design. I developed my wider marketing knowledge and I’ve now grown into a solid all round digital marketer. Technology is advancing and there’s a need for more people to code it, from traffic lights and lifts, to your Bluetooth headphones. There will always be work in coding as technology evolves; it’s a solid career choice.  

My first client was a friend of a friend. I charged £1,500 and it took me a week. I’m now a lot quicker and my skill set is a lot broader. I generally charge between £2,000 and £6,000 for a freelance web design job, that I can turn around in a week or two. On top of my Learning People salary, it’s a very healthy income and I’ve always got it to fall back on.

How did you get into coding?

I did a degree in music production, which was focused on how to market yourself in the music industry. My favourite module was building a website and was the driving force into wanting to learn how to code. When looking for freelance jobs, you have to tell as many people as possible that you build websites. I say it to taxi drivers, friends, family, everyone; it’s quite amazing the amount of work you get through people needing a web designer.

Like learning Spanish, you have to learn coding language, but when you're implementing the language day in, day out, you pick it up really quickly. I think anyone can learn how to code; having an eye for design, will set you apart from the other web designers. Unless you learn back-end code.

What would you be your advice to somebody looking to build a coding career?

It took me the best part of 3 years to learn how to code properly. If I was to start again, I’d definitely do a course to speed up the process, especially one which builds you a portfolio because that’s what showcases your work to clients.

Ask a friend or family member if they need a website and even if you do it for free, you’re still growing your skills and have something else to show on your portfolio. Network where you can and use social media to your advantage. Whenever you get frustrated with some code not working – and you will – take a breather, come back to it with fresh eyes and you’ll find the problem. Fixing broken code is one of the most satisfying feelings. And just enjoy the job; ultimately it’s very well paid and lots of fun.

Interested in joining us? Get your tickets tickets.

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