For me, the most effective way to learn was through a mixture of interactive exercises and videos where people describe and explain concepts. I bought a textbook for Ruby but found it hard to learn from effectively; there wasn’t much point reading it on the tube as I needed a terminal in order to try things out for myself, and when I was at home I always preferred other resources.
A tricky subject
Learning programming is hard, for two main reasons: firstly, the subject matter is difficult. The fundamental concepts of how programming languages operate take a long time to understand, and even longer for them to become intuitive. It is an incredibly complex field where there is always more to learn. The second factor is the emotional difficulty that most people experience during the learning process. You doubt yourself, you feel overwhelmed like you’re not up to it, or you feel like an impostor. Impostor syndrome is a reality for many successful professional software developers, and it can strike people particularly hard when you’re learning.
There are some brave and persistent people who are entirely self-taught, but I knew that to reach the level of competency I wanted to achieve in the time I had allotted, I would need to be in an environment where I would have the support to learn and grow. I wanted to be surrounded by people on the same journey as me, and immerse myself in a learning environment. To this end, I enrolled in a three month full-time coding bootcamp at Makers Academy to take my education to the next level.
Makers Academy was an incredible experience, which involved living and breathing (and often dreaming about) code for six and a half days a week. It gave me the skills I needed to begin my career in software development. At this point my goals changed; I wanted to work for a company that was improving people’s lives by disrupting established industries.
Searching for alignment
I looked at property companies that were doing things similar to the ideas that I had before I started my course, but while I could see that they were making renting easier, they weren’t really revolutionising the experience of the tenant. I began to look at other companies, and that’s when I discovered Starling Bank. Here was a company that was doing things that aligned with my values: giving people power and visibility over their money without charging them anything. The customer experience was put at the heart of the company.
As soon as I learned about Starling Bank I wanted to work for them. I was really impressed by the company product and mission, and the staff I met at the careers fair were engaging and enjoyed talking about their work.
Nearly 18 months after I first opened a terminal, I started my first paid programming job at Starling Bank…