I made my first website when I was 15. Although I took a more ‘typical’ route into tech, the reasons behind this route weren’t so typical.
When I was around 15, I sang as a hobby. I wanted to create my own website, but had no idea about how to start. I ended up having a really basic website which I made without having a real idea as to how it happened. This was actually my first experience with coding, and it was SUPER confusing. I remember my Grandad’s neighbour trying to explain html to me – a 15-year old girl with little appreciation or understanding of the words he was using, let alone the concepts! At that point, my Grandad printed me off a huge copy of an SEO guide to help, and again I had no clue about what this meant, or where to start.
I remember the background of the website being baby pink; something like: #ffc0cb. I had a small centred image of my face with some text below (in Times New Roman!) basically explaining a little bit about me and what I was doing.
This was my first ever website, and as you may be able to tell, I really didn’t know what I was doing. From there, my interest in tech only grew: I just wanted to make a website and understand what was going on behind the scenes. My Grandparents had sparked and supported my interest in tech right from the start! My Grandma worked in IT generally; my Grandad worked in printing, having a good understanding about early websites/SEO; and my uncle was an engineer. However, I had no real understanding about the day-to-day of their roles and what they really did though.
When the final year of high school came around for me, it was time to give some thought about what I want to do, not just with further education, but also, by extension, the rest of my life! I was completely stumped about what to do: I enjoyed music but I was worried because it was a passion that this might spoil it for me. (Plus, I didn’t do amazing in my music GCSE, performing = cool. Theory != cool).
When I got to College, I chose IT Software Development as it sounded pretty cool, and since I had already made one website, I thought I already understood the basics, right?
I started out with basic HTML and CSS, and loved it! I ended up getting the one of the highest marks in my class and my tutors pushed me to go on to university. This wasn’t a hard push as I loved the coding, and all techy stuff. Building computers was probably the most challenging part of the course for me looking back.
‘It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though’
After College I went on to study BSc Computing at Leeds Beckett University, and breezed through my first year, however, when it came to my final year I kind of had a meltdown (I will leave that for another blog post) and ended up failing a module. I was given two options: 1) redo the module, don’t pay anything extra and be capped at the lowest grade that would pass; OR 2) resit the year and when the module comes along within that year to just study that module with no cap on the mark. I decided to move out of student accommodation, out of Leeds, rent a room near my music studio and do the module again the next year with no cap. This time, my grade in Ethical Hacking- which was my most challenging topic throughout the whole of my University career, was 70% (a first). This showed me that, with the right environment, anything is possible.
‘This showed me, with the right environment anything is possible.’
When I landed my first junior role, it turned out that the working world was VERY different to University. I tend to describe my course as an umbrella of topics. A lot of people ask my opinion on whether they should go to University to learn to code or do a bootcamp/self-teach? Honestly, I believe the reason that self-teaching development is on the rise is down to the desire to be self-taught requires a whole different level of passion. I discovered this for myself after University when I went home and worked on side projects for fun, and building things just because it interested me and I’d learn something. Realistically, I believe that no one is in tech to get comfortable, there is ALWAYS new things to learn, and that’s what I love most about the tech world.
I think I have learnt more out of University than in it, but maybe this is down to my tech passion growing constantly, and my need to look to new technologies and keep my knowledge current.
Let me know in the comments, did you go to University, self-teach or other?