Changing careers can feel a lot like starting over and it brings about a whole host of emotions. 

If you’ve got a few years experience in what you’re doing already, maybe the thought of being a ‘newbie’ is a little off putting. Perhaps the idea of learning a new skill from scratch is too far outside of your comfort zone. Or you might think you’re ‘too late’ or ‘too old’ to change your career path. 

Well, let’s be honest, the longer you put it off, the farther you are from your dream job… So we caught up with one of our graduates who’s been there, done it and worn the coveted Code Nation hoodie for the duration. And ~spoiler alert~ changing careers is the best thing she’s ever done. 

Here’s a little career changing Q+A with our graduate Anna, who is now an Apprentice Developer at N Brown. 

Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Anna Groszek, I’m 34 years old and it was back in February of 2019 when I started looking for a career change. I’m now a Software Developer and a proud product of Code Nation!

What did you do before you switched careers?

Before I trained to become a Developer I was a recruitment consultant for over 5 years, working in the medical and digital sectors. 

Why did you want to find a new career? 

I loved recruiting and helping people take the next steps in their career, but hitting sales targets and the rep of being a ‘recruiter’ weighed a little heavy by the end. 

I also worked with a lot of IT professionals who were super passionate about their role and the products they were building. That sparked some curiosity – I wanted to find out why they were so excited about what they did!

I did some research about tech and what it could do, then I joined some free platforms like Harvard and freeCodeCamp to see what ‘coding’ actually was. 

I started going to tech meetups to hear more about what was out there, and it wasn’t until I went to a Code Nation meetup that I seriously thought “this is it, this is going to be my new career”. 

What skills did you have already that helped you change careers?

I enjoy problem solving, and that’s a huge part of being a Developer. I thought coding was like maths or science, but when your code doesn’t work, it’s creativity and a good attitude that’ll get you through it, not being good at maths. 

I’m also a resilient person – maybe my recruitment background made me stronger! Resilience is another trait of a Developer that I didn’t know I’d need. But when you feel like giving up (or smashing up your laptop in frustration) you need to stick at it, because the end result is so worth it. Seeing something that you made actually work is really rewarding, especially when you consider how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learnt in such a short period of time. 

In terms of tech skills, I’d learnt some front-end development whilst looking at freeCodeCamp, like HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JavaScript and jQuery. I’d also built programs using C on the Harvard platform. 

Knowing a bit before I started my journey was really comforting, and it gave me a bit of a running start by the time I decided to join a course at Code Nation. 

What was the toughest part about starting a new career?

The first step into the unknown was scary. I didn’t know whether I’d enjoy coding or understand new coding languages, and I guess I had a fear of being left behind if I struggled. The course wasn’t like that at all though. I had so much support from the Instructors – they always offered a friendly ear and a helping hand – and I knew that my online resources would help me too. 

At the beginning I felt like a had no idea what I was doing, and starting from scratch and admitting you don’t know anything was very hard. Especially when I knew that I was knowledgeable within my previous career. I felt uncomfortable and it knocked my confidence a lot – I still feel like that sometimes – but you have to get used to feeling uncomfortable and accept it as a challenge that will make you better at what you do. 

What was the best part about starting a new career? 

The excitement of a new challenge, learning new things everyday and seeing how programs and websites really worked was really fulfilling. 

Solving a tough challenge or fixing a bug – those are the things that actually fill me with joy to this day! You need to experience it to understand how it really feels, but the feeling of it all coming together makes me know that the days I felt uncomfortable were totally worth it. 

Coming to Code Nation and meeting like-minded people who have gone through similar struggles made my career journey so much easier. I really took comfort in knowing that someone else felt the same way as I did.  

And the best part of it all was getting my first job as a Developer! I studied on the 3-week Develop course, then the 12-week Master course, and after only 15 weeks of formal training I was employed by an amazing business. 

What advice would you give someone who’s thinking of a career change?

If you’re thinking about it then you’re already on the right track. Just go for it – it’ll be the best thing you can do for your future self. 

It’s tough at times when you’re having a bad day and feeling like you made the wrong choice, but spending so much time outside of my comfort zone meant that I really found myself – I discovered my inner geek and I really felt like I belonged when I was studying with Code Nation. That was really special for me because I’ve never really felt like I belonged anywhere. 

The Code Nation team believed in me and did everything in their power to help me succeed. Best of all, they gave me the tools I needed to land my dream role with N Brown. 

Changing careers has totally changed my life and I discovered a passion I never knew I had. I love my new job as a Developer and I am so excited for my future. 

We hope Anna’s story was the inspiration you needed to take the next step in your career changing journey! Anna studied on our 12 week bootcamp after completing the 3 week course, and after just 15 weeks of formal training was employed as a professional Software Developer.

Learn the skills you need and treat yourself to a new career. Future you will thank you for it. 🙂

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