Career Change: Sales to Full-stack Development

July 05, 2020

I spoke to Jack Bridger, a contracting full-stack developer. Jack is the co-founder of Code At Uni, a company that runs code workshops for University students. After helping others to learn to code, he completed Founders & Coders himself in 2019.

Why did you want to learn to code?

“I did a startup when I was 19 or 20 and it didn’t go too well. I felt the primary reason it failed was that it was a product-focused technology business but I couldn’t code. So I had limited influence on the product and how it worked. I felt powerless over the product.”

“I started Code At Uni because I wanted to learn to write code myself. But as that grew I spent more time managing the business than learning to code. I only went back to coding when I studied a master’s, which was in Computer Science.”

“During my undergraduate, I had started looking at General Assembly but I didn’t have much money and LSE didn’t have any options for coding. I did all the courses on Codecademy, but I wanted to do more. I ran the entrepreneurship club and I could see that other students felt the same, which is why we started Code at Uni. I ended up organising coding events, rather than learning to code myself but I always knew I wanted to come back to it.”

When did you consider a Bootcamp?

“I was at Stack Overflow (the largest developer Q&A website); surrounded by code but not coding myself and I got itchy feet. I started coding again in my own time again, but to get to the next level, I knew I needed to work with others on projects that I actually cared about.”

“That’s what Bootcamps provide more than anything else - the experience of working on technical projects with others.”

Why did you choose Founders & Coders?

“I came across Founders & Coders and of course a big benefit is that its free. It also has this really interesting model of learning from your classmates. Having started Code At Uni and helping people to learn, I was really curious to see how that worked. There were also a lot of entry requirements, so I felt like it would be a good motivator to improve my skills anyway, even if I didn’t get in.”

How was your experience of the Bootcamp? Did you enjoy it?

“I couldn’t speak more highly of Founders & Coders. I’m very grateful for Founders & Coders. I think it would be very tough to find someone who has anything negative to say about it.”

“You do have to be self motivated to do Founders & Coders . But that’s why there are entry requirements and tests before, which act as both a filter and a motivator. Founders & Coders really want to make sure you have the right attitude and willingness to learn but they’ll also help you get there. They offer lots of free pre-courses so that they can get to know Founders & Coders and build learn from current/former students.”

“A lot of those who went through Founders & Coders stay very actively involved.”

What’s been the hardest part about learning to code?

“Before the Bootcamp, it can be hard to stay motivated so it’s hard to get to that magic point where you are coding with others. It might be a reluctance to pay the money or maybe you don’t have the money, or you find the pre-requisites very difficult.”

“Once you’re on a Bootcamp, in my opinion, it gets easier because your friends will pull you through.”

What’s been the biggest surprise about learning to code?

“Before doing Founders & Coders, I believed the most valuable developers were those who wrote code as fast as possible.”

“Now I know that’s not necessarily the case. As a developer, you also need to have empathy for users. You need to be able to communicate well. There are many other non-technical skills that are really valuable to a team.”

What are you most excited to do with your coding skills?

“When you learn to code, you learn a lot of different tools and frameworks but it’s important to remember who the end-user is. Who are you actually trying to help? Ultimately, you want to be useful to that person and make something that improves their life or their organisation.”

“I’ve built tools in the past which where fun for me to learn but pretty much useless. Now I want to focus on building things that will be as useful as possible to real people.”

What tip would you give to others learning to code?

“Start coding with others as soon as possible. Go to Codebar, Founders and Coders (or Code at Uni if we work with your university). Find friends who also want to code. It’s hard to say exactly why it’s so important, but it is.”

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Written by Stevan Popovic, creator of Code With Bootcamps, software developer and coding Bootcamp alum.

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