From Agronomist to Software Engineer in 6 months

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Making the decision to change careers is a huge choice, and a lot of people are never brave enough to take the plunge. But, we know that more and more people are deciding to retrain and try their turn at tech.

We spoke to Marcia Cripps an Agronomist turned Software Engineer in less than six months after she fell I love with the industry through coding. Marcia is just one person who has taken the plunge and changed her career to pursue software engineering. Take a look at how her journey evolved as she speaks about it below. 

How would you describe your transition from Agronomist to Software Engineer?

My career before coding was the furthest you could be from the tech industry as I was heavily focused on agriculture as an Agronomist, working in the farming industry.

My transition was challenging. I started the 100Devs Bootcamp where my coding knowledge when from being non-existent, to me writing my own code and now I’m working as a Software Engineering. Retraining took me six-months, and it was the most life changing six-months of my life so far. My love for coding has grown immensely, and I now know JavaScript and Python. 

My journey wasn’t easy, and at times it was incredibly challenging. Coding took over my life; I was coding for six hours a day and balancing this alongside a fulltime job started to take its toll. 

Without the #100Devs community, I would’ve found it harder. The free bootcamp, and resources was a huge help and motivator to me. The community gave me a lot of advice as well as giving me feedback on the code I created. By using an online bootcamp, I was able to try a few languages, work out what’s best for me and try different learning techniques. I would often use the Pomodoro technique to study and use an application called ANKI for my flashcards. Both these learning methods I recommend to anyone if you are just starting out. 

Once I felt comfortable with what I’d learned, and my confidence grew I then started to explore the tech industry further. When looking for my first role, I felt a large amount of imposter syndrome as I didn’t have a technical degree but that quickly went away as I was often asked about my farming background, the skills I learnt during my bootcamp, and my soft skills. After a few interviews, I started to feel more self-assured and realised my different professional experiences were only a strength.  

What has been one of the most memorable moments of your career so far?

Finding my first software engineering role is something I will treasure forever, but more recently I worked on a PowerShell project that helped me automate several parts of my job. It was a super simple project, but it impacted my work life balance in an extremely positive way. I was able to get back valuable time, and really utilise how I spent time both inside and outside of work. 

What barriers have you faced and what do you think can be done to prevent these?

One of the biggest challenges I faced along the way was the frustration I felt when I was learning to code. My lack of knowledge and industry experience made coding feel impossible sometimes. I was close to giving up on a few occasions, but looking back now I’m incredibly proud of what I achieved and it’s only made me more resilient. 

Another barrier is the cost associated with training and upskilling. I’m a strong believer that education and training should be free and that large companies should be incentivised to provide, sponsor, or offer paid opportunities to learn.

I like that some companies have paid apprenticeships, but I think that is just the start.

I envision a world where these opportunities are offered with no cost and everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or background, so that everyone can learn new skills and progress. I recently learnt about "reverse-career fairs" where people can present their tech projects to companies and potential employers can walk up to them to shift the power dynamic. 

What advice would you give to people starting out?

My first piece of advice would be, don’t let imposter syndrome get in your way. 

Secondly, don’t be scared to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer to something, regardless of what it is, always ask. It’ll only benefit you long term.  

Lastly, networking is key! Whether it's off or online being open to speaking to people in the industry, connecting with them, and being open to discussions is always a good thing. You never know where you’ll end up. 

I hope that by sharing my story I’ve inspired one person to make that leap to pursue coding or change their career. Software engineering has completely changed my quality of life in ways I couldn’t previously imagine, and it has helped me understand why people say coding is a superpower.  

We had the pleasure of speaking with Marcia about her coding journey, and she’s a testament that hard work and determination can take you far.

If you're considering a new career opportunity, now is the perfect time to explore new opportunities. At develop, we have a range of exciting live vacancies waiting for talented individuals like you. Whether you're an experienced Developer or just starting out, we have opportunities that could take your career to the next level.

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