Rewind to February 2019: I had just qualified as a solicitor after 3 years studying law at university, 2 years of post-graduate study at law school, topped off with a further 2 years of training. I had invested so much time, brain power and money into law. All of this meant that quitting was not an easy decision. However, in the same month that I qualified, I did just that. I left the firm and I left the law, with the aim of completely pivoting my career path to becoming a software developer. As I write this now, I’m currently sat in the offices of Doctor Care Anywhere, proud to say that I have the job title ‘Developer’ (that still feels very surreal to me!), working alongside some truly talented people for a company which strives to improve people’s lives. I wanted to write about my personal experience of switching my career to tech to prove that a career change isn’t impossible, in the hope that it encourages anyone who wishes to do the same to go for it!
Many people thought (and maybe still think!) I was crazy to leave a legal career after so much hard work. The likes of Suits and Legally Blonde have glamorised the profession into something it isn’t (at least, not in my case!) The truth is, I really didn’t enjoy being a lawyer. Don’t get me wrong, the firm and my colleagues were great and I’m sure lots of people love working in law but being a solicitor was just not “me”. I had had enough of the culture, the content of the work, and the poor work-life balance. For these reasons, a career change to technology didn’t feel like a reckless decision in my mind. I have experienced just how easy it is to end up on a career path and feel trapped there. I was 21 when I graduated and was desperate to get any graduate job, fuelled by pressure of not wanting to leave university unemployed and without a plan. Getting a job in the same discipline that I had studied was the obvious next step. I blindly followed this safe, steady path. This sounds ridiculous to me now — how could I have allowed myself to pursue a career I didn’t want? I was in my early twenties… I didn’t really know what I wanted. You’re told to pick a career path in your penultimate year of school, take the appropriate A-Levels and that’s that. I have noticed that there is a lot of stigma attached to doing a career 180 and I’ll never really understand why — no one’s ever encouraged me to stay living in one place, or stick with the same boyfriend I had in school, yet everyone tried their best to make me stick to the career path I had started out on.
So, how did I manage to switch my career to tech, and why tech? As for why, I have always loved technology — I know that sounds like a cliché that everyone who works in tech will tell you, but seriously, I genuinely have, look at 3 year old me.
I love tinkering with new gadgets and have done ever since I was a kid. I used to spend my evenings on the computer building websites about my pets (I was — and still am — a complete nerd) and I love logic games, puzzles, crosswords and problem solving in general (I am actually a fun person I promise!). In the months leading up to quitting my job, I had been spending my evenings on Codecademy, learning the very basics of Python. My dad had been a software engineer and encouraged me to give it a go as a hobby, giving me something to do in the evenings to take my mind off the law. I fell in love with it immediately. It dawned on me that I wanted to make this my career. But how?
I spent those 16 weeks working hard and completely threw myself into tech. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I learnt so many things that I had never even heard of before — object oriented programming, CI/CD, MVC, Git etc. I was overwhelmed — every day felt like my brain was about to explode — but in a good way because I absolutely loved it.
When the 16 weeks were up and after showcasing our final projects, I met Doctor Care Anywhere’s very own Ben Rose and Li Chien at a Careers Fair. Having researched the companies that were going to be there I made a beeline for Doctor Care Anywhere as I loved the sound of the product and the company values. Ben and Li were so friendly and enthusiastic about the work they were doing that I applied that same day. Anyway, we know the ending of that story as I’m here.
To be honest, there is still so much I don’t know and I’m very much in the early days of my career — before working here I had never written a line of C# or even used a Windows computer since my school days. However, I remind myself that each day is an opportunity to learn and I am grateful that I am now in a career where the learning never stops and thankful that Doctor Care Anywhere took a chance on a career-changing developer.
Circling back to the topic of this article, I thought I’d share some of my tips if you’re also thinking of a career switch into tech:
1. Know your transferrable skills
I was struck with imposter syndrome when I first started the job hunt — I’d only been coding for 4 months, who would hire me? I have zero career experience in tech. However, I realised having a career in a different background could be an advantage. A previous career can give you plenty of transferrable skills, such as an analytical mindset and attention to detail. Even having experience working with other people in an office environment is something that adds value. Basically — know your worth (whilst remaining humble of course).
2. Don’t let yourself be persuaded by yourself or others.
Loads of people thought I was crazy to give up a career I had worked so long and hard for and offered all sorts of opinions. Ignore those people and do what you think is right — life’s too short to be unhappy!
3. You don’t have to have it all figured out
When I made the decision to leave, I had no concrete plan. I was unsure of when I would get hired, if I would get hired…it was terrifying! But it’s ok not to have everything in life set in stone — if you don’t like something, try and change it.
4. Utilise the tech support network
The tech industry has one of the best communities I have ever experienced and I found that there is a lot of support available, with a high emphasis on knowledge sharing. Places such as Twitter and MeetUp are really helpful. I enjoy attending meet ups as it’s a great opportunity to talk to people, learn from them, share knowledge and get inspired.
5. Don’t compare
Admittedly this one’s easier said than done. I still feel like I don’t know much when I compare myself to other people in my field — but comparing gets you nowhere, and everybody starts somewhere!