Last week CodeClan contacted me and asked if I would write them an article for their website. Of course I would be delighted to. Apparently someone had been in touch and was looking to change career, they hated their job and would like to study coding. However they thought at 46 they were too old. Well I am 46 (old?) and I did it (I actually started at CodeClan when I was 45, but thats splitting hairs)
So almost a year ago my work life took a turn for the worse and came crashing down. My "position was put at risk". Redundancy was inevitable. I was caught up in a failing Oil and Gas industry, failing department and failing management.
With some dubious ethics I was forced into a no win situation, I walked out. (Silence....)
There I was 46, wife and kids to support, poor job market (Aberdeen) and lots of free time. I was tired having busted a gut for the same company for the past 22. I needed a change.
A few chance meetings and a conversation lead me to look up CodeClan. A small education facility in Edinburgh offering a software coding boot camp. It sounded interesting. I'd heard about boot camps, it's all about coding, pizza and table tennis.
The CodeClan course was 16 weeks full time study and when (if) you finish you would have a new qualification in a software development. A chance for me to get out of Oil and Gas, change industry and get into Tech.
I love Tech, and 30 years ago I had learnt some coding at university (pascal and assembly language) as part of my BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. However I have never had any proper code training. Things have moved on a lot. Being able to retrain would great and possibly a chance for a rest (I wish!).
I applied and was asked down for an interview at the CodeClan office in Edinburgh. I found a super friendly bunch of people, a real buzz, the atmosphere was exciting. There were discussions of employee partners doing new things with code. As I looked about II could imagine I was in Silicon Valley.
I was offered a place in cohort 7 and I was lucky to be granted funding from the Transition Training Fund (woo hoo! Go me). This is a fund setup to help oil and gas workers retrain having been made redundant. That's me so I applied. It paid for the bulk of my course fees.
I discussed it with my family if they would they survive without me during the week for the next 16. Happily we all agreed and if there was a chance to improve my prospects in Aberdeen why not.
So I accepted the place and my start date was set at a few months away. I had the whole summer school holidays with my boys to enjoy first (how many people can do that?).
Of course summer rushed by, and before I knew it I was on a train to Edinburgh to meet the rest of my cohort and pick up my Mac Book Pro (you get one to borrow for the duration of the course). There I met 20 other cohorts all eager to get started. It was a half day warmup session to make sure your Mac is working and meet each other. Back on the train home I had my first chance to work on the 3 weeks of homework before the real start (that takes the course to 19 weeks in total, plus I had two weeks break at Christmas... So I guess it was 21 weeks for us).
The three weeks whizzed by and I was back down to Edinburgh to start for real. This time I was a commuter, up at 4am on a Monday morning, drive or train to Edinburgh and head home to Aberdeen on a Friday afternoon. It was hard. I stayed with friends, some weeks in Edinburgh and some weeks in Stirling. I was now a student so keeping costs down was super important, I had no income.
I met up again with my cohorts and we had a day of induction and team building before we were thrown headlong into code.
16 weeks of intense study took over my life. I had to eat sleep and breath code. The commuting was a pain but I got comfortable in my new routine.
Coding is also hard! It's mentally exhausting. It's a journey of peaks and troughs. Peaks when you spend ages trying to get something working and it finally clicks. Troughs when you spend ages trying to get something working.
But I gradually became familiar with the format of the boot camp and coding became easier.
Lectures and code alongs in the morning, then paired programming in the afternoon, and finally joy of joys more coding as homework. Thursday nights were a chance to cry into your beer with your cohorts, or to discuss how brilliant your code was. Thursday night was social night and homework free.
The rest is a bit of a blur and thankfully I did a weekly blog (encouraged by CodeClan) to record my time -->
Before I knew it I was graduating and had a new SQA qualification in software development. More important than that I'd had a ball and I'd gained 20 brilliant new friends. This was a surprise but so glad, and it alone made it all worth while.
Back home in Aberdeen at the end of January and it was all over and I was back to having lots of free time and spending time with my family.
I had my new bit of paper with my SQA on it.
It was time to start thinking about working again. I was refreshed and ready to get back to it.
I was keen on web development so applied for some jobs in Aberdeen and at the same time started putting myself forward for some freelance work under the guise of www.udnysolutions.co.uk
I'd say my friends in Edinburgh had it easier (don't tell them) as there is a tech boom down there and plenty of CodeClan employer partners to choose from.
Aberdeen doesn't yet, but it's trying. I expected a long wait and many rejections.
While I applied for a few jobs I received a freelance contract to update and refresh a local business website. That kept me busy. Udny Solutions had its first job.
I was then thrilled to be invited for an interview with Aberdeen City Council as a Web Developer (perfect!). Suit and tie on I went for interview with some super nice people and it must have went well as I was offered the position the following day.
I was chuffed to bits to accept. I am now a Web Developer and I have a shiny new badge with my picture and big bold letters "Web Developer" on it.
Im loving my new job.
So do I miss my old job? Not really, I miss some of the people. It ended up being more about faff than engineering.
Was being made redundant a bad thing? For me I'd have to say in hindsight, No, I was needing a change. I was stuck in a rut. I had spent too long with one company and got little back for it.
Was going to CodeClan worth it? Definitely. Well worth it in fact. I now have a qualification, I had a great experience and gained lots of new friends, and now a new job in tech.
So yea I'm a Web Developer with a new found passion for tech.
Big thanks to CodeClan and my fellow cohorts. I miss you guys.