Mariam’s story – Developer with Techswitch (13 year break)
My career break started the same way most do, I started a family. What I also did was move countries. When the time came for my daughters to start school and I could return to the goals for my own life, I started looking at returning to my previous career in medicine.
Prior to my career break, I was a French trained medical doctor with a speciality in clinical biology and a masters in biological research. I managed a private French medical laboratory, in charge of a team delivering results to hospitals and GPs. Returning to this field in the UK was complex, I was required to embark on a multi-year, self-funded training programme that would require long hours, night shifts and ultimately place me in a field that was not my interest. The work is rewarding, but with two young daughters, the level of commitment needed did not match the work/life balance that I was looking for so I had to look elsewhere.
I looked at the world around me and made note that everything and everyone is on a computerised device of one form or another. Even my previous field of medicine was becoming more and more enriched by the world of computer science and programming. I thought, why not be a part of this? I researched into job opportunities in tech and discovered that demand is high, salaries are good, there is great work flexibility and a real diversity in what you can do.
I tested the waters with a series of beginner classes on Udemy before looking for a retraining bootcamp. I went with TechSwitch and they have been absolutely amazing. To start with, they didn’t require a massive upfront payment. The training was solid, rapid and covered a range of skills that were in high demand in the market. At the end of the course, they put you forward for jobs and support you through the interview process.
One week after the bootcamp finished, TechSwitch got me an interview with Angel Trains (my current employer) and I got the job! As a non-native English speaker, with a 13-year career break on my CV, and no previous work experience in the UK nor in tech, I am extremely proud to have secured a rewarding job as a software developer.
My advice for women looking to return to work or make a career change is be prepared to commit the time to self-learn and have the perseverance to see it through.
Look for help when you need it. There are tons and tons of courses and documentation online for free and great communities around them. During your journey you will sometimes hit a wall. Don’t worry, those wonderful communities will be there to help you. For example, the developer community is huge, diverse and extremely helpful. There are many forums where you can post questions and someone, somewhere in the world who shares your technical and creative interest in development will leap to your assistance in less than a day.
Be open-minded and flexible towards change. It is very easy to get into a routine and people who have been in the job for a long time often don’t see what could be changed. Especially in the tech sector where technology is forever evolving and the ‘best way’ of doing something is sometimes no longer the ‘best way’ three years later, or even 3 days later in some cases. When something doesn’t feel optimal to you, voice it and propose a solution. Whether that be the use of a different technology, a methodology, or a disagreement between colleagues. Most processes can be improved, mistakes corrected, disagreements cleared.