Careers at Compare the Market

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Feb 16 · 6 min read

Ahead of our career panel, we sat down with our 4 panelists from Compare the Market to get to know them a little more.

Sarah Vandervliet — Junior Software Engineer

  1. What did you want to be growing up?
    I have never only wanted to be one thing. Growing up I had dreams of
    becoming an actor, a translator, and a social worker. A career in software
    engineering didn’t even occur to me! But surprisingly, every opportunity
    I wanted from those roles I have as a software developer. I can perform
    by presenting the knowledge gained in my work. I can play with the
    building blocks of language when writing code. And I can improve
    people’s lives with the products I help to create.
  2. When did your interest in tech start?
    My partner Ivy works in the industry. I could see her working from home
    and I was intrigued. I assumed I wasn’t a ‘technical’ person, but Ivy
    encouraged me to study. I did a couple of online courses and challenges
    and realised how writing software is useful to any field. I was working in
    care at the time and I thought about programs that could be written that
    would make day-to-day tasks easier for my clients. That’s where my
    interest solidified, and I committed to finding myself a role in tech.
  3. What was your first “tech” job?
    More than 2 years after I completed my first online coding course, I was
    offered an apprenticeship at comparethemarket.com. I have been
    blessed with a supportive team of colleagues where I feel encouraged to
    ask those ‘stupid’ questions (there are no stupid questions), make
    mistakes, and question the status quo. It has been a wonderful place to
    grow and learn.
  4. What were the key steps that lead you to be where you are today?
    Getting used to failure was the biggest. I applied to numerous roles
    without getting an interview and failed 4 at the interview stage. This was so important because it made me understand what employers were looking for. I could take notes about the interview questions and use the
    feedback to improve my skills each time. I would strongly encourage
    anyone to apply straight away rather than holding back. Each application will bring you closer to your goal.
  5. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in tech? Don’t let self-doubt stand in the way. It hasn’t gone for me now that I’ve been working in tech for a year. Senior colleagues, I look up to the most tell me it hasn’t gone for them either! It’s completely natural and doesn’t reflect on your ability or your potential. Keep challenging yourself and don’t be disheartened when things get difficult. This is where the biggest gains in your knowledge and confidence are to be made. Finally, make sure you pick projects to work on that are meaningful for you. This will keep you motivated and the more you try, the more you’ll improve. I wish you the best of luck!

Jordan Adedeji — Junior Software Engineer

  1. What did you want to be growing up?
    Growing up, I wanted to become a scientist. It was one of my favourite subjects throughout my time in education. For me, it was fun collecting data and testing theories. When I think back, it makes so much sense why I chose the career path I did — it was problem-solving I always enjoyed doing most.
  2. When did your interest in tech start?
    My interest in tech started as a teenager when I took an IT course during the summer holidays and learned how to design websites with Windows Dreamweaver. At 14 years old, I learned basic HTML just to glamour my Myspace page. As novel as these experiences were, they shaped my interest in tech and created an aptitude for working with code and building sites.
  3. What were the key steps that lead you to be where you are today?
    Some of the key steps I took was first identifying what area of tech I enjoyed most. Now, one thing you will discover is that there are a lot of tools to play with. For instance, you can get lost in choosing a programming language which can hinder your progress. Once you have narrowed your focus, try to build consistency by working with the tools you have chosen regularly and even building projects.
  4. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in tech?
    Looking back, I can honestly say that building a thirst for learning got me to where I am today. In tech, there are so many different pathways and interesting tools to learn. If you love tech and you love to learn then this industry is your oyster.

Muireann Gorton — Application Architect

  1. What did you want to be growing up?
    A teacher! I had actually planned to get into social studies or teaching but, luckily for the children of Ireland, I changed my mind last minute and applied for engineering related university courses instead. With home-schooling in full swing, I think my kids would probably agree that I made the right career choice.
  2. When did your interest in tech start?
    Both my older brothers are engineers too — so having computers and tech ‘stuff’ around at home probably sparked an initial interest. I used to take out the odd ‘teach yourself HTML’ type books from the library when I was young, but I wasn’t massively interested in software engineering until later when I went to university
  3. What was your first “tech” job?
    I love traveling, so when I saw a graduate scheme with a year’s placement in a software consultancy in India I jumped at the chance. There were a few bumps along the way, but it was great fun, I learned a lot and it was definitely a memorable experience. There are a lot of different routes into tech — and I’d recommend people chase after what they think they might enjoy; not just follow the path they think they ought to take.
  4. What were the key steps that lead you to be where you are today?
    I didn’t take a particularly linear path — more of a circuitous route to where I am now. I have a constant internal battle between my love of leadership and my love of being hands-on coding. During my career, I’ve tended to toggle back and forth between the two roles. I think this time I may have wandered too far from the code to meander back, but you never know!
  5. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in tech?
    Never get disheartened by what other people know — there will always be people that know more than you — that doesn’t mean that they are any better or worse engineers, just different. We all have different skillsets and there’s no single personality type or set of skills to make the perfect engineer. The best teams have a wide mix of expertise and skills.

Alan Richards — AD for Platform and Operations

  1. What did you want to be growing up?
    My mum says I originally wanted to be a ‘fire engine’. I first recall wanting to work in biology or tech.
  2. When did your interest in tech start?
    Around the age of 11, I became interested in tech and that rapidly developed into a strong interest in how the internet worked and cybersecurity.
  3. What was your first “tech” job?
    Systems engineer working with HTTP, DNS, Email, etc for an Internet Service Provider.
  4. What were the key steps that lead you to be where you are today?
    Key transitions for me were moving from start-ups to big organisations, from individual contributor to management, and from the technical elements of engineering challenges to the human elements. All of these got me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to adapt and build on my previous experiences.
  5. What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in tech?
    Find subjects that are intrinsically exciting, that make you want to go deeper and learn more. Open-Source projects are a great way to be involved in software engineering without making a career commitment.

Got a question for one of our panelists, then RSVP to our event with them on Tuesday 23rd February from 6:30PM (GMT).

the codelog

Welcome to the codelog, the official codebar blog

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Written by

codebar

codebar is a non-profit initiative that facilitates the growth of a diverse tech community by running free weekly programming workshops.

the codelog

Welcome to the codelog, the official codebar blog

codebar

Written by

codebar

codebar is a non-profit initiative that facilitates the growth of a diverse tech community by running free weekly programming workshops.

the codelog

Welcome to the codelog, the official codebar blog

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