No experience necessary, by Gillian

My background is in Literature and Art, but after working in pubs and bars for the last few years, I felt I needed to try something new.

I began by looking into coding courses for women but it appeared that they were mostly aimed at professionals making a career change, women getting back into their careers after maternity leave, or those who already had some experience with coding - all of which were criteria I didn't meet.

When I saw Function Camp’s post in the ‘girlsgonewired’ community of Reddit, offering a position to people with no previous experience in the field – almost to the point of requirement – I felt confident enough to apply.

One step at a time

During the interview process I was asked brain teasers and given puzzles to solve. This was a taste of the kind of characteristics an applicant is expected to have. Luckily I did well and was accepted onto the course.

The guys at Function Camp have been the most welcoming, warm and approachable bunch you could hope to meet. Each morning we have an informal meeting over Slack during which we discuss what we have been working on, anything we’re stuck on, and what we’ll be doing that day.

It’s an opportunity to get to know everyone and I have found it a fantastic way to stay motivated. The mentors are also working professionally on client work so you get a feel for what developer employment will involve.

That feeling when you ‘get’ it

The course is geared towards novices and gradually becomes more technical as they build upon your accumulated knowledge.

As you would expect, at times you’ll find things you haven’t quite grasped. At this point your mentors are there, ready with encouragement and experience to guide you to that breakthrough moment when everything makes sense. And it really does feel like a eureka moment, like you just won gold for a Winter Olympics event (that’s another goal of mine).

It's changed how I respond to challenges

It was a real step into the unknown, but the course is structured in a way that can take someone as naive as I was and turn them into a coder. I am currently nearing the end of the advanced section of the course and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned.

In hindsight the course really has three parts to it:

  • Tools. Initially the impetus is on becoming acquainted with and learning to use the tools available to you (though throughout the course you are continually learning new libraries and frameworks that grow in complexity). You’ll be impressed with yourself at how quickly you’ll pass through this stage with the help and support of your mentors.

  • Problem solving. As you progress, the emphasis shifts more towards the problem solving aspect as you now have to think critically about which tools are best to solve a specific problem.

  • Fitting together. As you progress further, and the tasks become bigger projects, you have to think how to structure and architect your work into small, workable and reusable parts so that you can logically piece together the larger, finished product.

I am now using my brain in ways I don't think I was before and it’s been a real confidence boost to learn a skill that is so in demand now. I don't think I could have achieved this anywhere other than in the positive, inclusive, can-do environment that Function Camp offers. It has been a fantastic experience and I look forward to the fun and rewarding career that lies ahead.

Think you can be a developer like Gillian? Apply to Function Camp and change your career in 6 months.

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