Lucy’s Inspiring Journey into Tech

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When I started my coding journey about a year ago, I attended a couple of tech meetups to help me learn. When one of those groups, Codeandstuff, invited me back to speak at an event, ‘Working in Tech’, for National Coding Week, I was more than happy to share my experience.  

Codeandstuff is a group for women and non-binary people looking to get into tech and offers a safe space to learn and support each other. In a male-dominated field, it’s really refreshing to have a group that encourages women to get into tech. 

Digital Era

I wasn’t taught how to code at school and didn’t really know too much about tech until my first job in project management, where all my projects had a digital focus. I conducted a lot of user research, using Google Analytics to understand customer behaviour online and used customer feedback to inform web changes. I came to understand how useful technology can be for businesses and individuals and started to notice the user experience in every app or site I used. What is 404? Why does a website not work on my phone? Why is the menu ordered in this way? Why does the search not work as I expect? 

After a few more roles in the digital arena I needed to know how everything worked, so I decided to make the leap and retrain in software development. I attended the Northcoders Bootcamp in Manchester where I learned JavaScript fundamentals, back end systems and databases, as well as front end tools such as React. 

After graduating, I looked into several roles and was introduced to Hark by Melanie at Graft. I knew Hark was the company I wanted to work for when I attended my interview and learned about their exciting environmental monitoring system used across several industries. I was delighted when I received an offer and got stuck in straight away – I even had some code on production after 3 days! I’ve been here for six months now and I’ve learned a huge amount!  

Life at Hark

Here is a typical working day for me: 

9:00am – Arrive, drink coffee, going through code reviews and project admin 

10:00am – Daily stand-up where the team discuss all work on our kanban board 

10:30am – 12:00pm – Coding! 

12:00am – 12:30pm – Lunch 

12:30pm – 5:00pm – More coding and project meetings 

One of the things I love about Hark is that we take part in a lot of regional events as well as hosting our own, which I really enjoy being part of.  We held the Energy Innovation Summit earlier this year which saw several industry experts come together to discuss the future of energy, and we even hosted an IoT hackathon where I was able to draw from my own experience of hackathons to help plan it!  

Community Involvement

Outside of my engineering role, I am also the social secretary at Hark, and I’ve brought the team together for paintballing and escape games. This helps us exercise our communication skills, lateral team thinking and problem-solving.  

Hark Socials

I really love my new career but of course there are some challenges. The dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ creeps up from time to time, and sometimes I’m overwhelmed by how much I don’t know. However, it’s important for me to remember that everyone’s journey is different and that mistakes are actually learning opportunities. Customers are using features that I’ve built and that’s something I’m proud of! 

There are some other things I do to take ownership of my own learning in this fast-paced industry. I love attending tech events in the north such as meetups and taster sessions, where I get exposure to languages I haven’t used before. Some of my tribes include: CodeandStuff, Women in Leeds Digital (WiLD), Lean in Leeds, Code First: Girls, Code Up, Sky Coding Club, and Free Code Camp. Through the Empowering Women with Tech scheme, I also have a female mentor from the technology industry who provides me with advice. All the above coupled together means I have a fantastic support network to learn from and grow with as a developer. 

I’m also lucky at Hark because I have exceptional colleagues who help me to understand new concepts and work through examples with me. I came in with basic knowledge but with the support of my team, I have explored lots of technologies.  

It was a pleasure to speak during National Coding Week and I do hope I have inspired others (especially women!) to explore a career in tech. 

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Lucy Woodhead
Lucy Woodhead

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