Although I took GCSE IT, I hadn’t initially intended to pursue a tech career. My dream has always been to make a difference, and I’d set my sights on becoming a research scientist, to develop products that could save and improve lives.
I went to university to study chemistry. While I was there, a colleague needed to do some complex calculations around the management of stormwater. I realised I could write a simple program that would give them the insights they needed to keep people safe. I did some other bits of coding while at university, where I saw opportunities to do things more quickly or easily. As I did, I realised I could have just as much impact on peoples’ lives through coding as I could with chemistry.
After meeting Softwire at a careers fair, I applied for a short internship. I was offered a graduate position at the end of it, starting in 2017.
Induction and the first project
The graduate programme started with a period of intensive training. My previous coding experience gave me a small headstart, but the course enabled others to catch up quickly, and we subsequently went far beyond what I’d done before – so anyone thinking of applying needn’t have coded much in the past.
We were then tasked with designing and developing a language-agnostic game platform, which would be used to train future developers. It was our first taste of an end-to-end software project, and really stretched everyone’s skills. Once it was complete, we held a tournament with the rest of the company – a great confidence booster to see our product being used, and a good way to get to know colleagues.
I then joined the team on a commercial project. Working on something truly meaningful was incredibly exciting – though I did find it daunting, partly because I was older than some of the more experienced members on the team. Would I be good enough to contribute? Would colleagues trust me? Would I be able to catch up? The team was welcoming, and there was plenty of support available, both to answer immediate project questions and to help me continue to develop my professional capabilities.
Making a difference
I’ve since worked on a variety of projects, including in the public sector. This has meant I’m fulfilling my long-held ambition to make a difference through my work – and that’s extremely satisfying. I’ve also appreciated the way Softwire is helping me take my career in a direction that interests and excites me. While some colleagues have gone down the route of becoming technical specialists, I’ve been able to focus more on the consultancy side of things. So my advice to anyone passionate about making a real difference in the world is twofold: Digital technology is one of the most powerful ways you can do this, and at Softwire, you’ll find ample opportunities to follow this passion.