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So you want to work in tech? (Here’s how to get started)




8 minutes

The Great Resignation is still in full swing in 2022. A Microsoft survey of 300,000 workers around the world found that 41% were considering quitting, retiring early, taking a sabbatical, or changing their career. 

Workers are taking advantage of the hiring crisis to leave their current role for one with better benefits, higher pay, or one that they simply enjoy more. With companies facing vital skill shortages, it’s a worker's market.  

During the first lockdown in the UK, CWJobs found that 22% of all workers pursued online tech training. In fact, the tech industry was one of the few that boomed rather than suffered due to the high demand for skilled workers, the enticing starting salaries and rapid career progression. However, skilled workers were in short supply for the increased demand prompted by the pandemic.   

But what does it take to work in these roles and how can you make the transition?  

This week we’ll be focussing on how to take those first steps into the tech world and become a Software Engineer.


What does a Software Engineer do?  

Every role will vary, but here are the general responsibilities of a software engineer in a nutshell: 

  • Building products, through programming and coding, that deliver value to users. 

  • This includes a lot of problem solving and communication with other teams like product and design. 

  • Although you might be writing code behind the scenes, the features you create will be seen and used by potentially millions of people. Pretty exciting, right? 

What makes a good Software Engineer? 

There are a few qualifications and skills that could give you a head start. Traditionally an education or background in the following areas can be helpful:  

  • Computer science 

  • STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) 

But, and we can’t stress this enough, you don’t need to have a degree to get your foot in the door. With bootcamps or short courses to build your skills, if you’re committed to becoming a software engineer you can do it.  

Some traits that can be helpful in this type of role are:  

  • Being pragmatic and enjoying problem-solving  

  • Having structured thought processes and communication style  

  • Understanding business and user needs (with an ability to see beyond just the technical aspects)  

  • Balancing quality and attention to detail with delivery  

Obviously, it also helps if you genuinely enjoy coding too!   


How to get into this role   

If you choose to pursue a software engineering role it’s vital that you become proficient in at least one in-demand programming language (like Python and JavaScript). Some people start out with a language that’s easier to learn, like Ruby, and transition over.  

Once you understand these technical aspects you can begin to build your portfolio by creating your own projects and sharing them on platforms like GitHub or Stack Overflow. Not only will this help you gain exposure, but you could also gain feedback on how to improve.  

If you’re looking for some courses on how to learn those languages and skills, these companies offer great classes and bootcamps: 


SkillCrush offers a free 10-day Coding Bootcamp to give you a taste. They’re focused on empowering individuals from all varying backgrounds including women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ community members and more to help diversify the tech industry.  


Code First Girls 

Code First Girls provides free online classes for women to help get them into the tech industry. With women representing only 17% of tech workers, Code First Girls is working to grow the number of female coders and offers courses made for university students as well as women without experience looking to change their career.  



Codebar.io hosts free weekly coding workshops for underrepresented communities. In addition to workshops across the UK, Europe and more, they also have free online tutorials for programming languages and a Slack group where you can get help from other coders.  


General Assembly  

General Assembly offer a massive range of courses to build your skills as a software engineer both online or at one of their global campuses. The costs of courses vary depending on length and hours, but they do offer payment plans as well as the option to pay after you get hired for some courses.  

You can find more courses and resources here. Most importantly, don’t forget to use your network – talk to people already in this role to find out how to get started. You never know where those connections could take you.  

What Software Engineers have to say... 

We chatted with Full Stack Engineers Josh Farrant and Bella Dear to get their opinions on what it takes to get into tech. 


Josh’s story 

Josh didn’t take the “typical” path of studying Computer Science at university (as he says, “in my experience that’s not really the typical path as most of the engineers I know didn’t study CS”), although he did start writing code while at uni. 

He was studying Astrophysics of all things when, halfway through his second year, he started realising that a career in astrophysics probably wasn’t going to be for him. 

He started learning some basic HTML, CSS, and JS after a relative asked me him to make a website for their band as he was “techy”. He managed to cobble something together and realised he really enjoyed it. You can read more about Josh’s transition into the world of tech, here 

Here’s a quickfire Q&A with Josh:  

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role? 

A: “My answer to this would probably change quite frequently, but at the moment the biggest challenge is balancing code quality with the need to ship features.” 


Q: What are the best parts about your role? 

A: “I love that I get to use my creative and problem-solving skills together to create tangible (ok, virtually tangible) products that people actually use. I love creating components that work well with one-another and can be composed into larger, more complex pieces of UI. Lastly, I love that it’s (contrary to popular belief!) quite a social industry where the vast majority of people just want to see others succeed.” 


Q: Anything else people should know about the role/industry? 

A: “You get out what you put into a software engineering role. The more time you spend learning and, most importantly, practising what you’ve learnt the more effective you’ll be, the better equipped you’ll feel to solve the problems that will be thrown at you, and the more you’ll enjoy it!” 

Bella’s story 

Bella didn’t follow the traditional path to become a software engineer. After working in sales she wanted a change of career and was interested in becoming a software engineer. 

She didn’t have any specific qualifications around this new role but found that didn’t matter after spending three months learning about programming. After the three months of taking online courses and reading up on software engineering, Bella landed her first role.  

Here’s a quickfire Q&A with Bella:  

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role? 

A: “The fact that there is never ending technologies/methods to know - you simply can’t know it all.”  


Q: What are the best parts about your role? 

A: “The logical, puzzle solving aspect – it's generally satisfying work, constantly learning new things.”  


Q: Anything else people should know about the role/industry? 

A: “It’s not for everyone. I feel like it is a bit like Marmite you either love it or hate it.”  


Find a job!  

Once you have the skills and are committed, it’s time to find a job!  

LinkedIn and Indeed might be two of the most well-known job boards and will definitely have software engineering roles listed, but don’t forget some of the smaller job boards. Take a look at our blog post on the 10 best places to find start-up jobs to get started. 

Be sure to keep an eye on our LinkedInTwitter, and website where we have new roles waiting for you to apply. Also change your LinkedIn profile to open to work status as well as your profile so recruiters can find you, and make sure your new skills have been added to your profile.  

When you look at roles’ advertised benefits, bear in mind that the average salary for Software Engineering is £25,000 to £50,000 depending on the sector and your industry. If you stick with it and make it to senior-level or management, you could easily earn upwards of £75-£90k as a senior and £85-100k as a lead.  


In conclusion, to become a software engineer, you need to:  

  • Clearly understand why you want to move into tech 

  • Make an informed decision to start pivoting your career 

  • Commit and invest in training/qualifications 

  • Build a portfolio to show you're serious 

  • Seek out roles suited for your skillset (bonus if they will add to your training) 


So, what’s stopping you? 

 Keep your eyes peeled, next time we’ll be looking at what it takes to become a Product Manager. 

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