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How Admiral's partnership with Code First Girls helped me to become a Software Engineer

After deciding to switch careers and enter the Tech industry, Zoe completed the Code First Girls nanodegree and landed a Software Engineer role in Veygo. With just an interest in coding and no tech experience, learn how Code First Girls prepared Zoe to thrive in her new role. 

Can you tell us a bit who you are and what you do at Admiral? 

I’m Zoe and I’m a Junior Software Engineer at Veygo, a short-term car insurance provider within the Admiral Pioneer brand. I work mostly in the back end, and my days can involve solving bugs, writing new functions, and engaging in planning discussions.  

How did you come across Code First Girls, and what was your experience? 

In my previous job, I had started learning some SQL in order to do some customer analysis. A colleague, who was also learning coding, showed me the Code First Girls degree they were applying for. It sounded so good that I decided to apply for the following cohort, set on getting the Junior Engineering job at Veygo. Before I interviewed at Veygo, I went to the 2021 Tech Talks with Code First Girls, and I was overwhelmed by all the passionate career switchers just like me. Hearing the panel discussions and talking to other people from less represented backgrounds trying to get into Tech made me feel a lot less alone. 

I did the degree in the Autumn of 2021. I found it challenging to absorb all these new concepts while still working a full-time job, but I learned an awful lot in a very short timeframe. The instructors were so helpful and responsive to feedback, and we all used a virtual chatroom where we could discuss the course and help each other. A few course mates and I also set up a separate Discord where we could have a group debrief on lessons, which was helpful when the topics were particularly tricky. I also found the internet to be a banquet of resources such as Stack Overflow, W3Schools, general documentation, something I’m sure I’ll be utilising for the rest of my career.  

Why were you drawn to a Tech career? 

I’d always had an affinity for Tech, from customising my MySpace as a teen, to utilising loopholes in helpdesk software so I could get through emails faster when I worked in Customer Services. In every job I’d had, the Tech team always seemed to have the most fun. I used to believe tech was a bit of a boy's club, or that I needed to be a maths genius to succeed. It wasn’t until my previous job started hiring women into the Tech team, some of whom came from bootcamps, that I even thought it possible. I was lucky enough that my job was transforming in a way that required me to know a little bit of code, and once I began learning I was hooked. Now I’m almost evangelical about coding, and I’m more than happy to suggest it to anyone and everyone who’s looking for a new career path. 

How has your time been at Admiral since Code First Girls? 

Veygo has been such a welcoming environment. I was blown away by the patience and kindness of my fellow Developers. Admiral offers a very generous Buy a Book Scheme which means I’m able to get up to two books a month for free. If you’re not much of a book person, we have access to Pluralsight, a library of online courses that are invaluable to a hands-on learner like myself. There are also opportunities throughout the year to get training through both Admiral and external organisations.  

Do you have any advice for women who join Admiral through the Code First Girls degree? 

My best advice is to ask questions - nobody expects you to know everything, and nobody will judge you for not knowing an acronym or a piece of technology. I would also say that curiosity is very beneficial. Early on I found it useful to look at the code my colleagues were submitting, to lurk in slack channels, and to simply have a nosey around the codebase as a whole. It can be really daunting to enter your first tech job after a bootcamp, but every day you’ll learn something new, and you’ll get a little better, even if it doesn’t feel like it! 

 

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