Moonpig Tech Blog
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Moonpig Tech Blog

Pandemic Panic to Software Developer

In January I was an online English teacher, teaching students from all over China. When the Coronavirus hit Wuhan I saw the pandemic unfold through daily updates from my students, but I felt safe in my Manchester living room in a good (2m+) distance from the virus. Little did I know the effect that the coronavirus would have on me and that I’d actually be thanking it for pushing me to become a software engineer.

A screenshot from one of my classes with Dora (who is wearing all of her dad’s PPE)

The online english teaching industry changed over night. As one by one countries closed their schools, more and more new teachers applied for jobs in an already over saturated market, a lot of teachers were worried.

I wasn’t worried, I had a new venture on the horizon, I had a plan in place and the wheels were almost in motion. I was going to become a software developer. In the months leading up to lockdown I had applied for a free coding course in Manchester with the promise of great job opportunities after three months of training.

Then, due to the pandemic, my course was cancelled. My plans to change career had been put on hold and any new ventures seemed difficult or even impossible. Like a lot of people the pandemic robbed me of a great opportunity, or so I thought.

Photo of dog for attention

After a few weeks of binge watching Tiger King and walking my dog so much he became scared of his lead, I decided (along with a few tough words from my friends) that it was time to get moving again. I was on the hunt for an opportunity to become a software engineer and one that wouldn’t cost me £3,000+ (not the easiest thing to find).

I reached out to a few different companies and CodeNation replied. They were recruiting apprentice software engineers. The offer: a 3 month software engineering bootcamp with Code Nation and a job after graduation at a total cost of £0 and 0p. My eyes lit up. With a few email exchanges and CV updates I had an interview with Moonpig in my calendar.

After some intense interview prep and a friendly interview, I was offered a position in the Tech Foundations Team in Manchester. I would be a backend Developer working in C#, with AWS, Terraform, and a whole host of other technologies that I had never heard of. Before I could say “What’s a Terraform?” my BCS membership card sat next to me on the sofa and I was writing my first Javascript function.

The list of technologies we covered on the Codenation bootcamp was extensive, starting with the basics: CSS, HTML, JS and slowly progressing to the more difficult languages: Express, HandleBars, React, Mongo DB, SQL and C#.

Alongside all the learning I was included in loads of Moonpig socials. , I hadn’t even started in my role yet, but in Moonpig’s eyes I was already part of the team. We did paint-a-long socials, associate-learning-lunches and a Manchester women’s social every Friday. I was so grateful to be included before my official start date, all those first day jitters and the feeling of being a new starter faded away before my first day came around. The only concern I had left was that I wouldn’t be ready after 3 months of training. How could I possibly know enough after only 3 months at CodeNation?

The answer was pretty simple: you never know enough. Part of being at an associate/apprentice/junior level is that you have to be able to teach yourself, you have to get comfortable being in a constant state of learning and rely on your team to support you in your development. (Actually, that’s not quite true, i’ve been told that as a software developer you’re always in a constant state of learning, no matter how much experience you have.)

I have now been working at Moonpig for over a month and I am exceptionally lucky to work here. I have had a lot of support, my manager and I set objectives and have regular catch-ups where we discuss my progress and I receive feedback. 121’s, I often pair with senior developers on coding Kata’s (bite-sized coding challenges), and I have also joined the LGBTQ+ committee.

So far I have paired on a piece of work surrounding authenticating users on Moonpig’s new platform. For this I learnt about O-auth and authentication vs authorization which was super interesting. I’ve also helped push new releases to production and have been learning some graphQL to help with a project that is in the pipeline. I never thought I would be able to say that at the start of this year.

In a year where the world stood still, Tech, Moonpig and I certainly didn’t. When disaster hits there is always opportunity for growth and I’m so grateful that applied to me. So if you’re thinking of a career change, or you’re interested in becoming a software developer I would say now is a great time to do it. Don’t let fear or coronavirus get in your way. There are many great coding bootcamps out there (check out CodeNation, North Coders or Tech Returners to name a few!) oh and watch this space to hear about some Moonpig code-alongs and a LGBTQ+ focused hackathon in January! If you are fresh from bootcamp or an experienced developer and looking for a job, reach out to me or go to Moonpig’s Recruitment page.

To conclude I would like to say a big thank you to the Coronavirus for pushing me in the direction of CodeNation and to give a round of applause to Moonpig for not dropping me into the deep end before I could swim!



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