From designer to developer: Why I changed roles

Jan 08, 2019
hackajob Staff

When Francesco held his university prospectus in his hands, he felt confident that he had made the right decision in choosing to study graphic design. Now four years on and with almost two years of experience as a software developer under his belt, here’s why he decided to completely change his career trajectory.

At university, I was naive about the opportunities around me. Vaguely aware of the concept of computer science and web development, there was a similar course offered at my university but it seemed boring and it didn’t even cross my mind to apply. After I gained my degree in graphics, I was so pumped for my first job. What I didn’t know however was that my first role wasn’t quite ready for me.

One of the few problems with higher education is that at the end of your studies, you aren’t prepared for the prospect of how hard it can be to find a job. Instead, you’re encouraged. ‘Have an extensive portfolio and you’ll be fine’, they say. As it turns out, there’s a hell of a lot of graphic design graduates out there, and it’s a competitive industry. That in turn with the little jobs available make for a hard sell, and even when I eventually found my role, I didn’t feel… excited. It felt ‘fine’, but was that all I wanted from a role?

Not quite feeling fulfilled, eventually I began to wonder ‘is this career for me?’ I loved the design aspect and enjoyed creating digital concepts, yet something was still missing. One day, whilst scanning my computer for news, I came across a coding boot camp advertised online. Intrigued and with no idea about coding, I clicked through and entered an entirely digital space that I don’t think I’ve ever found my way out of since. I was astonished. It was exactly what I was looking for. By learning to code, I could transfer my design skills and put them to good use. I’d still be designing, yet in an entirely different way. What’s more, I could learn from home. I can’t lie, it was absolutely terrifying to quit my first ever job and go back to square one and retrain, yet I knew that it was what I wanted to do, and so I did.

Was it tough? Absolutely. I’ll make myself completely plain, I’d obviously heard of HTML and was vaguely familiar with CSS but ruby? Python? Javascript? My course tutors may as well have been speaking in a completely different language (in retrospect, they were), I was so lost. This course was intensive and promised that I would be able to be a fully-fledged developer in just four short months. I worked hard, picked up as much as I could and made sure to study outside of working hours. With everything from pair-programming to mini boot camps and more (even yoga and the odd meditation session came into it at one stage) it was a whirlwind of trying to cram my learning in, yet being aware that I knew barely anything at all.

By the time my course had ended, I didn’t feel the slightest bit ready to become a software developer. And again, the same promises were being made, that it would be easy to find a job and I wouldn’t have to worry. Whilst I will say that I didn’t become a developer overnight, it did take far less time to become one than it did a junior designer and this time, the job satisfaction hit me immediately. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s all about listening to your inner self, and not doing something ‘just because’. I’m now a fully-fledged software developer working for an amazing company, and I can honestly say that I’m lucky enough to really enjoy my job.

If I could go back in time when looking for a technical role, I can honestly say that I would use hackajob to help aid my search. Instead, I ended up being bombarded with messages by so many different recruitment agencies that I felt overwhelmed and it really wasn’t a positive experience. These people would call me on the fly, insist that they had the right role for me and then offer me something entirely different from my skillset, and with no clue as to why I couldn’t go forward for an interview. It was confusing and irritating. After all, wasn’t it these people’s jobs to know me? To read my CV? Instead, hackajob does the hard work for you so that you don’t have too. What’s more, their whole ethos revolves around skills, not CVs and they have loads of technical challenges to complete – the gamification element makes them even slicker.

At the end of the day, it’s like hackajob say: it’s all about getting a job that really ‘gets’ you. If you’re struggling with the hiring process, I recommend signing up to their site and looking at their blog – they have some excellent interview advice.