Last Updated: Monday 20th January 2020

How does a bootcamp make a difference?

For the second profile in our live better series, we’d like to show you how rewarding it can be to take a chance on yourself and learn something new. If you are beginning to wonder whether that 2020 career change resolution was achievable, let this give you some mid-week motivation!

Alex was our first hire of 2020 and is already making his mark on Team Knoma! Alex has a wonderfully diverse background (music, recruitment, and more!) and is an inspiration to us all. He hasn’t looked back since doing a coding bootcamp in 2017, which has given him the perfect foundation for switching careers and working on the tech scene. Alex’s example teaches us that you can take your future into your own hands and find one, or multiple jobs, that fulfil you at different stages of your life.

Were you always interested in tech?

Yep. I fostered a healthy (or unhealthy depending on your stance) love of tech from the age of 4. I’ve got four older brothers so I was playing video games before I could accomplish a lot of other basic tasks. This then led onto computers in general.

Being 32, I was lucky enough to grow up in a time where I saw the commercial home computer grow from its infancy to what it is today. I still remember when my household got our first word processor, which was little more than a typewriter with a screen. I was fascinated!

Can you talk us through your career journey so far?

So my first ‘career’ I was as a rave MC. This was during the time when dubstep was a new and exotic genre — my favourite music at the time was liquid drum & bass. It was great fun but not sustainable for body and mind so, after 5 years, I decided to leave that path and start a ‘sensible’ career in sales. I did pretty well and worked my way up, eventually ending up with a senior role in recruitment.

How did you decide that you wanted a career change?

I mean no offence to people who enjoy [the recruitment] industry or the corporate environment, but for me, after 6 years and approaching the age of 30, I had to admit to myself I didn’t want to pursue that career for the rest of my life.

Could you talk us through the practical steps of your career change?

First, I worked out how much I would need to pay for the course and support myself while I studied.

I then saved up and took a remote course with Code Institute.

I did 2 months part-time while still working and saving, before breaking free and focussing on the course full time for 2 months.

After this, I found a company that agreed to take me on as a junior for two days a week initially, which later turned into five.

What one piece of advice do you wish you knew before changing career?

Don’t expect to know everything by the end of your course — it’s a fantastic foot in the door, but the bulk of your learning will be done on the job. Be honest about your experience and your knowledge — you’ll find the right workplace this way.

Don’t let your ego get in the way of asking a question. The tech community, both in the workplace and online is like no other in the fact the wealth and availability of knowledge is incredibly vast — this is built on the wish for everyone in tech wanting to keep everything open source wherever possible. Feel free to stand on the shoulder of giants and prepare to spend as much time looking at google, youtube and technical docs as you do looking at your code editor.

What was the last thing you learned from scratch?

I’ve recently started making indie games (for fun, not profit), so have had to learn how to navigate the unity game engine, along with C#, which is a really cool syntax.

You’ll realise that once you know the principles of code, you won’t find it too hard to pick up another, so it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Other than tech, what are your biggest passions in life?

Music — nowadays it’s playing spanish guitar or singing folk and blues at open mic nights instead of MC’ing at raves. Age comes to us all!

Computer games — Still tech I know, but it’s how I chill out and they’re quite a big part of my life.

Travel — Who doesn’t love this? This was also a primary motivator in getting into coding — I currently work 2 days remotely at Knoma and a few years down the line may hope to bump that up to the full 5 and travel. For the time being though I have ties in London and love it here, so no rush.

Friends and Family — Another standard answer, but maybe there’s a reason for that being the norm hmmmm?

What are your learning goals for 2020?

When you take a career in code you’re committing to a lifelong learning journey — although don’t let that put you off — I HATED school, and have only ever been able to be good at the things I enjoy. If you enjoy this, jump in!

So to summarise, my learning goals of this year are to deepen my knowledge with code — in particular, I want to learn more about using Wordpress as a CMS as it’s so widespread nowadays — previously I’ve built website Content management systems in Wagtail, Ccodeigniter and Wordpress, but I should now have an opportunity to go one step deeper with Knoma.

SEO also interests me and I think that would round out my skillset nicely, as I haven’t touched it much so far.

What does your typical day-to-day look like?

The great thing about coding is you’ll rarely have two days next to each other that look exactly the same.

If you’re focussing on functionality of new features this typically looks like: research, build, test, find bug, research, fix bug, smile, enjoy knowing something new.

If you’re building out templates and styling what the user sees, this looks like: discuss, (sometimes) have a hand in design, research, lay out template, style up, marvel at your beautiful work.