Our first alumni spotlight features former CareerFoundry web development student Andrea Hurren. Since the end of October, Andrea has been happily working as a junior web developer at prestigious publicity company The Lift Agency, having completed her CareerFoundry Web Development Course a mere two weeks before her first day of work!
“I was shocked to be contacted for 4 interviews the week after finishing! I was absolutely ecstatic, I couldn’t wait to start!” she told us.
She successfully switched careers after several years working in IT support for a local company, and retraining with the CareerFoundry Web Development Course under the guidance of her mentor.
Time for a change
A Computer Science graduate, Andrea had always been attracted to the bright lights of web development, but it took her a few years before building up the courage to take the plunge.
The trigger came after her second child was born. Not only was Andrea unhappy in her local government job, she realised that due to large budget cuts she was also living under the constant threat of being made redundant. That’s when she decided it was time to quit her job and pursue her passion.
After talking to friends and trying out Codecademy and Treehouse, Andrea quickly came to the conclusion she needed a course that offered guidance as well as a structured curriculum. She began researching programs with a built-in mentor system. Having a young family she needed to take care of and living 3 hours away from the closest in-person bootcamp, it was obvious an online program would be the best fit - so she signed up for CareerFoundry’s Web Development Course.
A website that Andrea built using the skills she learned with CareerFoundry.
Learning with CareerFoundry
“I could see straight away there was a lot to cover, so I was quite excited to get started”.
Like many other aspiring web developers, Andrea had already dabbled in HTML and CSS with free courses, but after the first few exercises with CareerFoundry she realised she was seriously out of her comfort zone. It was when she reached the course materials on Bootstrap, Ruby on Rails and the MVC framework that she learned the importance of ‘knowing how to Google’ - a talent that any web developer will tell you is invaluable to success in the field.
She began to think more outside the box, do her own research and learn on her own; skills she now knows she couldn’t get by without:
“Working with code can be really frustrating at times” she told us.
That’s why she is convinced that curiosity and persistence are the two personality traits every aspiring and successful developer needs to have in abundance.
There were two other major factors that made the difference for Andrea in overcoming her difficulties on the course. The first of those was her mentor Panayotis Matsinopoulos. Panayotis patiently guided her through the course’s most challenging bits by promptly answering Andrea’s questions and satiating her endless curiosity about best practices, different technologies, and valuable online resources.
The second of those major factors was Slack, the online, team communication channel which houses the CareerFoundry student community. When her mentor wasn’t immediately available, Andrea would turn to Slack and the hundreds of CareerFoundry students online to get help. It wasn’t long before she started connecting with other students on Slack for different reasons:
“I found that, not only getting help, but also providing help to other students was a great way for me to learn. The CareerFoundry community was incredibly important to me”.
Andrea’s portfolio website lists her skills and expertise.
The power of a good network
A firm believer in the power of communities and a strong, personal network, Andrea continued to follow that same logic when she started looking for a job. Andrea knew her portfolio would be her best advertisement for getting her first job in the industry so she spent time polishing her portfolio website, gathering together the various small projects she had worked on and adding as many details as possible to illustrate her knowledge and expertise.
Andrea also spent time reading about how to start looking for employment as a junior web developer, which led her to take the step that was going to steer her towards her brand new career.
Andrea decided it was time to get her name out there; she created a Linkedin and Twitter account and connected to a strategic network of contacts: developers and designers she already admired. Then she went on to connect with fellow CareerFoundry students as well as mentors she had chatted to previously on Slack. She connected with CareerFoundry employees and, finally, recruiters in her area.
Another beautiful website Andrea created.
One of the team
Within two weeks of setting up these profiles, Andrea had made several contacts, received job interviews and was offered a position to work as a junior web developer for The Lift Agency, a fantastic result of all her hard work. She spoke of her excitement doing her first web development job:
“I couldn’t wait to start!” she told us.
Like most new jobs, it wasn’t all smooth sailing to begin with. Andrea, like many others, felt the Impostor Syndrome creeping in as she first started working for the publicity agency. She said:
“‘Have I fooled these people into giving me a job?’ ‘What if they find out I can’t do this or that?’ (These were) some of the thoughts I had when I started”.
Being a female developer and a mother in what is still a male-dominated environment also had her worried she wouldn’t fit in, or that she would have issues working well within her team.
Andrea needn’t have worried: as she quickly found out, her strong desire to build on her knowledge was the one thing she needed to blend in with her colleagues and the designers and developers on her team were always keen to help each other out, try out new things and experiment, no matter what their level of experience was.
“As long as I’m eager to keep learning and improving, that’s all they care about”.
The work of a web developer is often very varied! This is another site Andrea built.
While it might be scary to start from the beginning again and be confronted by situations which force you out of your comfort zone, Andrea’s story tells us that with hard work and a bit of faith, anytime can be the right time to change careers. We’re all constantly learning and growing our skill set, at every level, and as Andrea has shown us, it’s curiosity and persistence which will make the difference between staying where you are or getting the job you love.
Go try it for yourself!
What You Should Do Now
- If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if web dev is right for you - sign up here for our free 7-day web dev short course.
- If you are interested in becoming a Web Developer check out our web development course (you'll learn the essential skills employers need).
- If you’d like to speak to an expert Career Advisor for free about how you can really get a new job in tech - connect with us here.
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