Find out how Babs made the move from geophysics to coding – via a career in acting – showing what can be achieved with a clear sense of direction
How do you choose a career?
More often than not it comes about as an accident of fortune rather than part of a coherent plan.
Which makes it all the more impressive when people take the time to make a clear choice – especially if that involves pulling off a career switch. Babs Doodkorte is one of those people.
Finding her feet in the world of coding – with a little help from TechSwitch – has meant a big change for Babs, but it’s given her all the things she craved from her professional life. And the career that lies ahead of her is an exciting one.
We sat down with Babs to hear about her professional life thus far, and how she’s successfully moved across industries and embraced her future in tech.
An unconventional beginning
Although Babs charted a scientific course at university – culminating in a masters in geophysics – her path after graduation went in a somewhat different direction, as she’d always wanted to pursue a career in acting.
That meant moving to London and getting work in the closest thing she could find:
“I landed a job as a talent agent, representing other actors. That sort of kept me in the business. At some point I moved up to office manager there whilst still trying to do acting professionally on the side.”
She made some progress but didn’t truly have the breakthrough she craved. And when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, all the momentum she had built up disappeared.
Losing access to an entire industry overnight truly changed Babs’ viewpoint on her career. She’d recently discovered a love for LARPing (Live Action Role-Playing) and had found that it gave her a lot of the creative satisfaction she’d previously looked to acting to fulfil. In many ways, that took the pressure off, and gave her the confidence to look elsewhere for her professional future.
So, where to start? As Babs explains, she initially looked back at her earlier studies for inspiration:
“But you can’t really just find a job in geophysics. They often require a PhD. However, I did do a lot of coding and numerical modelling during my education. So I was playing around with going into software development or ESG-type companies – anything related to that.”
As she explored the possibilities, the answer came from an unexpected quarter. One of her LARPing friends knew TechSwitch well, and with that recommendation, everything moved rather quickly.
To code or not to code
With her talents and drive, Babs quickly secured herself a place in a TechSwitch cohort and threw herself into the training.
She relished the tempo and the opportunity to learn something new every day:
“It’s very very fast paced. One of the core concepts is that you do everything in pairs, so you do pair programming and you swap assignments or projects very regularly.
"So rather than going ‘You must understand every single bit about this type of project or the type of coding that we’re doing’, it’s: ‘How do you handle seeing a bit of code or a concept that you have never encountered before? How do you find the answers you need?’
"Because realistically, once you’ve got a coding job, you’re going to have to familiarise yourself with an entirely different code base.”
Stepping into her new world
When she finished the bootcamp Babs moved on to a six-month placement with People's Partnership – a placement that has since become a permanent job.
Her team has helped her get up to speed, and she’s continuing to overcome the challenges of learning new coding languages in and around work. That has involved setting time aside each day to study and grow her knowledge, which her employer has fully supported.
For Babs, this ability to ask for what she needs and the confidence to take on new languages was established at TechSwitch:
“That’s the nice thing about the course because they really teach you how to approach something you haven’t seen before and how to learn how to work with it. It doesn’t really matter what coding language or what specific bit of coding you apply it to. It’s the ability to look at something new and to ask your colleagues or your supervisor and learn from that and work with that. Thanks to TechSwitch, I have that tool in my toolset.”
The next act...
So what’s next for Babs? She’s loving life at her job, and also finding plenty of creativity within it:
“On the surface maybe people assume it’s the opposite because of some kind of divide between the sciences and more creative endeavours, but it’s creation, right? It’s coming up with new ideas and new ways of doing things. Whether that is painted on a piece of paper or how to implement a certain piece of logic for coding, it’s the same.
“There is a lot of flexibility, freedom, and creativity involved in how you set up a certain bit of code. What’s the quickest way? What’s the most efficient way? What just works? What is legible? There’s a lot of choices you have to make.”
As we look for fulfilment in our lives, it can be easy to feel stuck on a set path or in a certain industry. But, as Babs’ story proves, there are a lot of different ways to find the things that excite us and satisfy us – and sometimes that means taking the plunge and making a change.