Join us as we dive into Emily’s inspiring journey from academia to the tech world. Discover how she overcame self-doubt and found her place in tech.
The TechSwitch bootcamp has helped people enter the world of tech for some time now, and we’re constantly amazed by what our alumni have gone on to achieve.
So today, we shine a spotlight on Emily, a member of one of our earliest TechSwitch cohorts from 2021.
We caught up with Emily after two years in the professional world of tech to explore the challenges, learnings, and valuable insights she’s picked up on her transformative journey – so that we can pass those lessons on to present and future TechSwitchers and help them reach their dreams.
From academia to algorithms
Before TechSwitch, Emily was an academic. Having spent five years at university studying maths with a specialty in medical statistics, Emily went straight into a career as a medical statistician.
But academia just wasn’t the right place for her, and in time Emily realised an age-old truth:
Just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean you have to do it.
“I think a large part of the reason I had continued with it for so long was just because I was told I was good at it. And then, I don’t know, just after growing up a bit, I realised that I didn’t have to do something just because someone said I could. And although I loved academia while I was studying, when I got into the real world, it just wasn’t the same.”
That was when Emily realised her calling might lie elsewhere.
Her job at the time gave her some experience in coding as she wrote a lot of statistical programming code in her day-to-day, but the more she did it, the more she found herself drawn towards the intricacies and puzzle-solving of coding.
“I always found that I was trying to do more and more coding, and I really liked doing it at school as well. I just thought, ‘Why didn't this hit me in the face so much sooner? That actually this is the bit of my job that I like most.’”
And when the pandemic hit in 2020, the opportunity to explore coding further finally came – and it came in the form of TechSwitch.
The big switch
After searching around for odd jobs and opportunities in tech, Emily stumbled upon TechSwitch’s parent company, Softwire.
“I found Softwire and really liked the look of them and I thought that this sounds like a great place to apply. The application process didn’t really go to plan, but I followed up and asked for some feedback as I was really keen on the company. That was when they asked me if I had considered doing a bootcamp.”
In early 2021, after applying for the course, Emily began her journey with TechSwitch, where she soon realised she had truly found her calling.
“TechSwitch was wonderful, and I really enjoyed it. I already was fairly confident that it was something I'd enjoy, but the benefits that I got from the course were incredible. It really does a good job of giving you a genuine experience of being a developer, but in a realistic environment. That’s the biggest difference.”
Emily’s time with TechSwitch helped her grow and improve as a developer, so much so that when it came time for her to graduate from the bootcamp, Softwire reached out and offered her a placement, bringing her journey full circle.
“I was so fortunate because Softwire was looking for placements at the time. So I had an interview set up with one of the partners and they liked me, so they said that they would take me on. I was extra lucky because my interview was basically the 12-week course!”
The path forward
Emily’s first few months of working with Softwire as a junior developer truly helped her build her confidence and expanded her skill set even further, and she soon progressed out of the new starter band to become a software developer.
But there was still a niggling feeling that she was struggling to shake. A feeling that most people will be familiar with – the itch of imposter syndrome.
“I think at the start, in the first few months of my job here, I still felt like I had got away with something. I kept thinking ‘Do I really belong here? How have I got here? I must have somehow blagged it.’”
And when those feelings refused to go away, Emily took it upon herself to find a way to deal with it.
“One thing that I have found really useful is honestly just talking about it. Because I think pretty much everybody has some amount of imposter syndrome. It’s something that you don’t necessarily get rid of, but you just learn to work with. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve learned to do over the last couple of years – technical stuff aside – just figuring out a better way to carry it.”
And now, two years later, Emily is still with Softwire, is loving every second of it, and is moving towards her next goal of becoming a senior developer.
“It’s kind of crazy when I think about it. Sometimes I have to pinch myself a little bit.”
A word of advice
Emily’s journey from the world of academia to the realms of technology has been both challenging and rewarding. But her dedication, resilience, and love for tech have made her a standout example for entering the tech world from a different angle.
Emily has even been able to revisit TechSwitch as a guest trainer, imparting her wisdom to the newest cohort of TechSwitchers.
“I got to teach a week of the TechSwitch bootcamp, which honestly I was really scared about. But I found it so useful to be able to draw on my own experiences to help the new TechSwitchers. It really did come full circle.”
With her “been there, done that” history of TechSwitch and changing careers, we asked Emily for one final piece of advice. Something she wished she had known when she started out on her journey.
“Honestly, I think the most important thing for me is again about impostor syndrome. If you’re career-switching or going some other route into software development, it is a bit scary, but that’s fine! Try not to compare yourself to everybody else around you and other developers who’ve been there for years. Why would you do that?! They’re not comparing. Just do your best and don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions, because everyone’s had them at one point or another. No one is judging you in the same way that you’re judging yourself. And it does get easier the more time you spend doing it. Just keep going if it’s something you really want to do.”