Academy Week 12: Looking Back

It’s been twelve weeks since we started the Made Tech Academy as nervous Software Engineer wannabes. It’s strange because it feels like a lifetime ago but also the time has flown by! 

When we started this journey, things like test-driven development, agile ceremonies, sprint backlogs and clean architecture were new and scary. But we’ve just finished a 5-week project where we designed and created our own web applications using all of these and more. At the same time, we’ve learnt about working together to find the right solution, giving and receiving feedback and picking up new tech stacks on the fly. If someone had told me at the beginning of the Academy that I could do all that, I don’t think I would have believed them! 

In the last three months, we’ve learnt so much about what it takes to become a software delivery expert. Now going forward into our new lives as Software Engineers at Made Tech, we look back at what drove us to apply in the first place and what we’ve gained from the experience. 

Q: Why did you apply to the Academy?

CHLOE: I really wanted to work in software engineering but I hadn’t done much coding before so the Academy seemed like a great opportunity because no prior experience is needed. A big factor was also that Made Tech works with the public sector and there’s a sense that with the projects you do you are really making a difference in people’s lives and that was really important to me. 

BELLA: I applied to the Academy because it was really encouraging to see that they were specifically looking for applicants with no commercial experience but who were passionate about coding. I saw a posting in my local coding group so I thought ‘hey, why not give it a try?’

CLAIRE: I applied to the Academy because I wanted to change careers into software development. I was also interested in the projects Made Tech have done and the Academy seemed like a great opportunity to develop my knowledge. 

DEREK: The reason why I applied for the Academy was because I wanted something that was going to help foster my learning and development as a developer. I have gone down the self-taught path and I didn’t feel like I was completely ready to apply for a ‘proper’ developer role. I saw the Academy as a place where I could enhance those technical skills and technical knowledge to get me to that place.

DUNCAN: I applied for the Academy because it was a chance to learn practices used in the industry before joining live projects. Also because Made Tech puts a strong emphasis on continuous learning not just during the Academy, which is important to me as it was my first job in tech.

EMMA: I applied to the Academy because I’ve always been interested in software development and I’ve done a lot of programming whenever I’ve had the chance. I would try to teach myself how to do the next thing and I wanted to transfer into the tech industry but I was struggling to bridge the gap between self-taught and the software industry. The Academy sounded perfect because that’s exactly what it taught.

RICHARD: The reason I applied to the Academy was I was looking for an opportunity to move into software development. I really liked the fact that the Academy meant there would be a big group of us starting from the same sort of point. I liked Made Tech’s mission statement and the projects it was involved with. 

ZACK: I applied to the Academy because I wanted to be a software professional. I liked the content, I liked the focus on good software design, engineering practices and meeting user needs and not so much about following the latest fads or fashions in technology. Although we do use the latest stuff as well.

Q: How is the Academy benefiting you?

CHLOE: The Academy has hugely boosted my confidence with coding, writing clean code, running retrospectives, pair programming, and so much more. I’m also feeling a lot happier in general because I’m doing a job that I love and it doesn’t even feel like a job, at least for now. 

BELLA: Before I joined the Academy, my primary experience with coding was doing front-end web development. I didn’t really know how to work in a team, what constituted good code, whether my applications were well organised or even what the point of testing was, among other things. The Academy has taught me the immense value of all these things and has encouraged good coding practices.

CLAIRE: I’ve learnt a lot from the Academy already and it’s been great learning alongside the other Academy engineers. It means there is always someone to bounce ideas around with. 

DUNCAN: I’m learning new ways of programming and implementing them immediately in projects, which helps to consolidate my knowledge. I feel that I am really benefiting from both teaming up with other members of the Academy and receiving guidance from experienced engineers. 

EMMA: I’m finding the Academy really beneficial. There were a lot of gaps in my knowledge when it came to how to write scalable software, software that can be maintained. I always just wrote hacky scripts to do what I wanted and would often have issues later on. Learning practices like TDD and clean architecture have been really beneficial and will really help me going forward.

RICHARD: I feel like the Academy is benefiting me because I’m learning new programming skills, I’m working collaboratively, which is something I hadn’t done a huge amount before with software, which is great. Also learning how to deliver projects, not just code. They’re all going to be really important things going forward.

ZACK: I’m really happy now! I can’t believe I get paid to learn alongside fantastically intelligent and talented people. Every morning I wake up raring to go.

Q: How are you finding the Academy?

CHLOE: It’s great! The Academy is basically like uni, but normal working hours and you get paid. The atmosphere is so supportive and everyone is willing to help which makes it the perfect place to learn. Even though it is virtual, we’ve gotten to know each other really well because we’re chatting all the time and we also like to play fun games with each other. 

BELLA: The progress I’ve made in the six weeks I’ve been with the Academy has been immense. Not only in terms of technical know-how, but my own approach to working with others. My colleagues are some of the most positive and approachable people I’ve worked with. There is a huge culture of feedback here that really helps us grow. I couldn’t imagine a better start in software engineering than at Made Tech. 

CLAIRE: I’m really enjoying the Academy so far. Every day feels like we have something new and interesting to explore. Clare and Charlene, our Academy mentors, have been amazing. 

DUNCAN: It’s been a really great experience as although we are learning so much, there is a relaxed atmosphere where everyone is helpful and we’re focused on the learning process rather than worrying about the outcomes. 

EMMA: I’m finding the Academy really fun. It’s really great to work with other Engineers. I’ve only ever really done software stuff by myself. It’s been really great to hear from other people’s perspectives and do pair-programming. Solve problems together, mobbing, katas, that sort of thing. That has been really great. Also, just learning loads and having it all broken down for me because it is very easy to get bamboozled by all the words in the software development cycle.

JOANNA: I’m loving the Academy so far. Everyone is so friendly and willing to help. I’ve learnt more in six weeks than in six months of learning to code by myself. Not just about how to write clean and efficient code, but also about working in a team, giving feedback, and how coding an unbeatable AI in tic tac toe is a lot harder than it sounds. 

RICHARD: I’m really enjoying the Academy. It’s great fun. It’s really supportive with the other people who are in the Academy and also the wider Made Tech community. All the Senior Engineers and Lead Engineers I have spoken to have been really helpful and more than willing to help us progress which has been absolutely brilliant. 

ZACK: It’s great! I like that there’s social interaction. We’re not just alone programming at home. We spend a lot of time pair programming and comparing our work. The remote party games that we’ve been playing fairly regularly are pretty good fun too. It’s all good.

BEN: So far, the Academy has been a very enjoyable experience. What I find most exciting is that we get to work on our own small projects and integrate with the wider Made Tech team which really helps accelerate our growth. Made Tech puts a strong focus on personal development as well as feedback, which I think is a really important foundation to build.

Looking ahead

The Academy has been a great learning experience for all of us, the skills we’ve gained will be useful for years to come. It will be a big change to not log in every morning and see everyone’s smiling faces, ready to play a team game or tackle a new challenge together. The next chapter is going to be just as exciting, if not a little scary, but I reckon the Academy has given us the tools we need to tackle anything that’s thrown at us. 

I think we’re all raring to go! ?

About the Author

Emma Blott

I was a geophysicist (with a coding problem) in a previous life but I've started over as a software developer. Enjoying getting stuck into learning about the new and exciting world of Tech! ??‍?

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