When Edward’s not building great websites, he likes to swing dance!
Edward McCaughan is our fantastic Web Development mentor at CareerFoundry. In this interview he tells
us about how he got into web development and offers his advice for those wanting to make that leap into tech. He also tells us what he does at the weekend to maintain that all-important work-life balance. Dancing included.
How long did it take you to learn to become a web developer?
When I first started with computers as a teenager, I didn’t know where I would end up and was learning a hundred and one different things, soI slowly drifted into web development over half a decade. I got started by learning very simple programming at school, then picking up HTML and CSS in my spare time.
At university I studied electrical engineering, so websites were very much a side hobby until I got my first serious junior developer job after graduating. The great thing about learning to build websites was that it was something I could learn by myself online, and since it was fun, learning new things never really felt like “work”.
What’s your favourite programming language?
Right now I’m a big fan of Ruby for web development. It manages to be simple and easy to read, but at the same it can do really complex and elegant programs. Most other languages excel at one, but at the cost of the other, but thanks to Ruby’s community and core team, it manages to pull it off. On the other hand, I’m a big believer in using the right language for the right task!
Can you tell us about your social product Donatify?
I wanted to do something to raise money for charity and I see a lot of people asking for sponsors to run a marathon, or do a sky dive, but I thought it would be an interesting experiment for the donors to get something from the person they sponsor in return for their donation. So I built a site where people can “hire” me to do things for them in return for a donation to charity. The plan simultaneously worked and backfired on me when someone donated 50 EURO to make me show up to work in a dress for a day…
Have you always worked in the startup scene?
Not always. For awhile I worked for the biggest telecoms company in the UK and for a while I built websites for local government councils. Eventually I ended up in Berlin working for betterplace.org and really liked the change. Somehow having a company that’s passionate about their goal makes for a more relaxing working environment, because there’s less day to day distractions.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a career in code?
Make stuff! Conveniently, the best way to learn new things is the same as the best way to convince people to hire you, which is to build your own projects. Employers have to sift through stacks of CVs, so having a portfolio of real things you made makes it much easier for them to see what you’re really capable of.
What do you enjoy doing at the weekend?
I spend a lot of my “work” time doing computer related things, so at the weekends I dance a lot of swing dance to balance things out.
What music do you listen to?
Everything from blues to metal, classical to dubstep, I like a variety.
What do you think about freelancing?
Freelancing can be a great way to earn a living, you get to see new projects regularly, choose what kind of schedule, customer and project you work on and there’s a lot of demand for it. On the other hand, working full time for a team has it’s advantages of stability, the support that comes with a team and getting really deep into one project.
Edward Introduces Ruby on Rails and the Web Development Program at CareerFoundry
Working with an inspirational mentor like Edward is something we at CareerFoundry are very proud to offer our students. Working one-to-one, mentors are able to offer personal feedback on projects, give tailor-made advice for each individual and be a constant, motivating source of guidance to our students. The project-based aspect of the Web Development course enables students to do exactly what Edward here suggests; build up an excellent portfolio of work to showcase their skills to future employers and recruiters. Alternatively, the projects you are working on can evolve into the business model and website for your very own startup. So if the tech scene is racing ahead of you, it’s time to get your running shoes on.