Getting to know the September 2020 Academy cohort

At the beginning of September, a new cohort of 12 Academy Engineers joined the Made Tech team! As I was one of these new engineers, I wanted to speak with my Academy colleagues to learn more about their backgrounds and the experiences they have had during our first week in the programme.

The Made Tech Academy is a 12-week programme that trains beginner coders to fully-fledged software engineers who go on to work on exciting Made Tech projects with real-life clients.

What did you do before you joined the Academy?

AZLINA YEO: I was a secondary school mathematics teacher before I joined the Academy. Before that, I was a full-time mum at home. I spent the bulk of my career in Apparel Merchandising.

BELLA COCKRELL: I worked for six years as an editor at an illustrated, non-fiction publishing house, working with authors and designers to create gorgeous craft books. I’m a mean knitter, me!

BEN DALTON: Prior to the Academy and post-uni, I was a revenue executive in a large hotel company. I had worked in the hospitality industry for about two years.

CLAIRE GUEST: My degree was in Chemical Engineering. Before joining the Academy, I worked as a technical consultant, with a lot of my work involving data processing and analysis.

CHLOE WONG: I just graduated this summer from Imperial College London where I studied Chemical Engineering.

EMMA BLOTT: I studied Physics and then Geophysics at university. I worked and travelled for a couple of years between my undergraduate and master’s degrees and then I worked as a geophysicist doing seismic processing for the last four years. Software development is a complete career change for me!

ZACK ADLINGTON: I managed supply chains in the Royal Navy. Getting engine parts flown out to us in exotic locations was an ongoing challenge, if a nice problem to have. My last job was procuring services to move fuel to the Armed Forces around the world.

What made you want to get into software engineering?

AZLINA YEO: I got into software engineering because I enjoy coding, debugging and optimising code. I find it quite addictive and I gain great satisfaction when the code works as expected.

BELLA COCKRELL:  I didn’t know the first thing about coding before I joined a web development course for fun, but then I caught the bug and spent a lot of my spare time coding websites and animations. It’s not so dissimilar to making books, but at least I know there’s a typo in my code because the program won’t work.

BEN DALTON: Out of curiosity, and having a strong desire to learn new skills, I began learning to code in my spare time. I knew I could apply my problem solving skills to what I have come to realise is my area of passion and commitment professionally. I’m thrilled at the prospect of delivering value in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

CLAIRE GUEST: A small part of my previous job involved programming, which I really enjoyed, and inspired me to learn more in my own time. Because I enjoyed it so much, I was keen to make it the focus of my career.

CHLOE WONG: During the first year of university, I had a very bad experience with coding (MATLAB, if you know you know) and after that I decided to NEVER code again. As time went on though, I started to hear the word ‘Python’ floating around a lot from my course mates, and how absolutely amazing it is, so I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about at the start of lockdown. It didn’t take long for me to realise that this was a ton more fun than anything I’ve learnt on my course and software engineering is what I want to do with my life! 

EMMA BLOTT: I dabbled in coding when I was at university and always found it really fun. In all my previous jobs I have found some way to introduce coding into my work, usually by automating repetitive tasks. I’ve always been really interested in technology and knew I wanted to make the switch into software engineering at some point, now seemed like the perfect time!

ZACK ADLINGTON: I’ve been fascinated by technology since I was a child, but by my teens it wasn’t getting me invited to many parties, so I found other interests! Around 18 months ago I fell back in love with solving problems through software and decided to make it my career.

What made the biggest impact on you during your first week at Made Tech?

AZLINA YEO: The biggest impact was how surprised I was that writing good code was not our first priority in Made Tech. Yes, it is important to write good code. However, what took precedence was the importance of continuous self improvement as an individual, as a team and as a company. 

BELLA COCKRELL: I was really surprised one of the first workshops was about how to give feedback – I now realise that an open feedback culture is the only way we will be able to improve quickly, not only as engineers but also as kind human beings, inside and outside of work. Giving and receiving praise and constructive feedback make us more confident coders.

BEN DALTON: Definitely the people! Everyone is so friendly and welcoming – I immediately felt part of a team. Made Tech embraces such a positive and supportive learning environment.

CLAIRE GUEST: Definitely the people, both the other Academy members and the rest of Made Tech. With the current pandemic, the Academy is being run remotely, but everyone has been friendly and supportive despite the difficulties.

CHLOE WONG: How kind and friendly everyone is! Also, after an extended summer of not doing much, it’s great to be back in a learning environment (especially one where everyone is so supportive).

EMMA BLOTT: It was really great to dive into feedback culture from the get-go. On day one we had a presentation about how to give and receive feedback. Coming from a very different industry it was really great to see the emphasis on feedback being a positive thing that’s used to help us grow!

ZACK ADLINGTON: We had a workshop on how to give and receive feedback on our first day, before we’d even been set up with our Made Tech email addresses. This really hammered home to me how much people and self-improvement are valued here.

What are you most excited about going forward?

AZLINA YEO: I am excited about starting my journey at Made Tech, most importantly growing and developing skills as a software engineer, to create meaningful programs and make a difference in the public sector. It will be interesting to see how much I will improve in one or two years’ time.

BELLA COCKRELL: I’m really excited to learn everything that the Academy has to offer and become a better engineer! We’ve got workshops on user research, clean architecture, test-driven development and data engineering plus lots more coming up in the next few weeks – I can’t wait!

BEN DALTON: I’m most excited about my growth, the fact that I will have a positive influence on the lives of others and on the success of the company. The learning never stops, the goals will be measurable and the opportunities really are endless!

CLAIRE GUEST: I’m looking forward to the last part of the Academy, where we get to have a go at our first project.

CHLOE WONG: In two short weeks I’ve learnt more than I could have imagined, so the thing I’m most excited about going forward is to see how much progress I will have made by the end of the Academy!

EMMA BLOTT: I’m super excited to get going building some software and work with a team of developers. Being self taught, I’ve only really coded alone so it will be great to build something and learn from more experienced developers than me. I’m also excited about working in the public sector and building tech that helps people.

ZACK ADLINGTON: Learning how agile projects deliver complex but well-designed systems. I love trying to make code clean, and I’m really excited to take it to the next level and learn good software design principles.

By joining our Academy, you can build the foundations of a software development career – and be paid a full salary from day one. We will be opening applications for our 2021 Academy soon so please keep an eye on our website. In the meantime, you can learn more about the programme here.

About the Author

Bella Cockrell

I am an Academy Engineer at Made Tech (2020 cohort).

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