A late career route into tech

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post, Abby Xiaotong Su, graduate software engineer at a large e-commerce company, talks about her unexpected route into tech, and discusses the many roads into the tech sector. 

Although I have always been interested in technology, fascinated by how it can improve and accelerate the way we work and live, whenever I was asked the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years” – I never considered tech an option for me. My family were determined that, because of my gender, a technical or creative career was not an option.

Previously, I worked for an international bank, which provided me with stability and job security throughout the pandemic. During this time, I started coding with friends, developing a number of mini applications. It was just for fun at first, but it eventually turned into something I felt passionate about and wanted to turn into a career.

Many people thought it was crazy to leave a stable job and enter a completely new industry, all amid a global pandemic. It was a risky move, but despite the fact I had no previous tech experience or related degree, I knew it was right for me.

My partner recommended I investigate QA’s offering. I enrolled on one of its DevOps Engineering bootcamps, and this has been the most crucial step forward in my career to date. QA’s bootcamps show that a career for tech is accessible to people from all backgrounds.

The experience was very rewarding and allowed me to gain extensive knowledge and experience in DevOps Engineering. Through the tutors and guest speakers, we had the opportunity to learn from industry experts working for organisations such as AWS at Amazon and Deutsche Bank. This continued to inspire me, as I saw their ambition and capabilities, and it added further fuel to my desire to be successful in tech.

During the bootcamp, we were given the autonomy to finish two independent projects and one group project. This was my favourite part, I gained vital experience using both Python and Flask, building CI/CD pipelines in Jenkins, implementing infrastructure as code (Terraform), and using various cloud technologies and DevOps tools on platforms including Google Cloud Platform and Azure.

I was also given the opportunity to lead a team of five female programmers to deliver a DevOps project on AWS. To work on a successful project with other intelligent and ambitious females who have all experienced different struggles in their quest for a career in technology, was a positive experience to be a part of. And with women making up only 17% of IT specialsts in the UK, it was a project I felt extremely passionate about.

The bootcamp allowed me to develop the skills and knowledge needed to be work ready when entering the technology industry. Since then, I have received several offers from prestigious firms within the sector, such as Accenture, but accepted the role of Graduate Software Engineer at one of the largest e-commerce companies in the north. Without QA, my career change would not have been possible. Now I’m just excited to continue my journey in technology and see where my new career takes me.

Recent research from QA showed that there are a lot of misconceptions about what is required for a career in tech. 77% of young people believe that you need to be really good at Maths and Science and over a third think that you need to have studied computing at school or college. I’d like to encourage everybody to believe that they can have a career in technology. And that it is a rewarding and exciting career opportunity.

I believe that technology is the way forward for many industries, it constantly transforms the way businesses operate, I want to be at the centre of that change and to help deliver improvements to people’s lives through technology, and I’m thrilled the bootcamp gave me the necessary skills to do so.

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