‘A coding education like no other’: our Northcoders graduates

We became Northcoders’ first curriculum partner last year, and since then, we’ve now welcomed 6 Northcoders graduates to our team through their placement scheme. We caught up with them on life so far as part of the Apadmi family…

Northcoders is the UK’s leading coding school. They offer a continuously evolving curriculum to capture the latest industry developments, in-house career advice and bespoke training. And they do all this so that people from a wide range of backgrounds can enter the digital and tech sector.

As we’ve been on a huge recruitment drive ourselves this year, we’re all too familiar with the digital skills gaps that bodies like Northcoders are trying to tackle. We’re also aware of how much value and the variety of transferable skills are available when you recruit outside of more traditional job specs.

Six months on from their first day with us, we’re letting a few of our own Northcoders graduates chat about why they decided to switch career paths, their journey so far and how Apadmi life is suiting them.

Our Northcoders graduates

Tarik Medjber, Junior Software Engineer

What brought you into this industry?

Before and during my time at university I worked at Asda. I was the (self-proclaimed) number one shelf stacker in all of Warrington! That aside, I’ve always wanted to be able to learn how to code, mainly because it can boost problem-solving and logic skills, and make long-winded tasks a lot less time consuming.

How did the Northcoders programme structure benefit you?

Thanks to the balanced timetables Northcoders created, we knew exactly what we were doing every day, week and block (3 weeks) – the structure was fantastic. 

During sprints, the tutors were always on hand to help if you got stuck and whether they explained the problem instantly or guided you towards finding the answer yourself, they never let any of us struggle. A lot of the tutors are Northcoders graduates themselves so they knew what we were experiencing. 

How have you adapted your existing skill-set to suit the demands of a career in tech?

When I was 19, I designed and developed (through consultants) an e-commerce and social media app which was deployed in the Apple App Store. The skills I coined throughout the process have always stuck with me, but even more so now. Although I’m on the other side of the development process, actually building the apps now, I often look back on my fundamental knowledge of end-to-end app development and use it to think about usability and final stage development.

What advice would you give to someone else starting out in the industry?

Get on Youtube! There are tonnes of useful videos out there. I started looking at the pros and cons of working in the industry, which then led onto ways of getting your foot in the door. Northcoders was the obvious route for me, but apprenticeships and other training-based roles seem to be a good option too.

Rob Clegg, Software Developer

What industry did you work in before tech?

I had most recently been in the plumbing industry, but have a background in environmental services, installations and repairs. I’ve always had a good amount of computer literacy and often made websites when I was younger. After realising that the line of work I was in wasn’t for me anymore, I decided to move into a less high-risk industry, where I could do more work in less time. It’s been a great decision so far and I’ve found that the skills I used in my engineering roles have been transferable in my new role as a software developer. 

What 3 key areas did you learn at Northcoders?

  • Looking behind the scenes: Although I didn’t know how to create all the code we encountered at the start of the course, it was great to delve into the back-end of development projects and gain an understanding and appreciation of how things are built
  • Anything is possible: Using React was really eye-opening – it made me realise how simple some aspects of coding are. I still have an app on my phone from our graduation project; it’s really cool to show others and say I made that
  • Always try new things: Thanks to the regular show and tell presentations that Northcoders run we got an insight into new areas, such as game development. I often came away from the sessions with lots of inspiration and eagerness to go home and have a play around in that area – in just a couple of hours I could find myself deep in a game of battleships that I’d built.

Now that you’ve got your foot in the door, what will your progression look like?

I’ve been at Apadmi for 6 months now and so far I’ve had Scrum Master training, I’ve worked in two different languages, front-end and back-end coding, I’ve even been on training days with Amazon – it’s safe to say my personal development has been great. I’d really like to keep developing my knowledge and experience with hopes to one day move onto systems architecture or dev ops. 

Alex Fullalove, Junior Software Engineer

Alex Fullalove

What industry did you work in before Apadmi and why did you turn to tech?

I was working in hospitality as a bartender and was influenced by friends working in this sector who really enjoy it to make the move into software development. I wanted a kickstart into a career that had plenty of opportunities, yet would constantly challenge me to develop my skills. 

How did the Northcoders structure benefit you?

Having had an insight into the everyday structure at Apadmi now I’m qualified, the Northcoders program has clearly been designed with agency life in mind. During the programme, we learnt what we were about to do in lectures and then worked on intense sprints to reinforce our knowledge to then implement the skills firsthand – this is so similar to the structure we follow with client project planning at Apadmi.

Now you’re one of Northcoders graduates, what gets you excited about working in the UK’s leading app agency?

Manchester is in a massive transformation period right now, which gets me really excited looking towards the future. There are lots of companies moving here and socially the city has lots going on – not just beer fests, but tech meet-ups. These are really valuable for someone new to the industry like me. Working at Apadmi means I get close contact with a variety of projects, each using different technologies and bringing new opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone looking to enter the industry?

It can feel daunting, but also really exciting and eventually rewarding. I’d definitely tell people considering it that there’s absolutely no need to rush into anything – spend some time considering options and plan how you’ll overcome certain issues. There are so many free resources available and Northcoders offer an introduction to programming which gives a really good taster of what it’s all about. Check them out, and if programming really is for you, then go for it – I haven’t regretted it since.

James Clegg, Software Engineer

What was your pathway into software development?

I studied business and marketing at Keele University, but tech has always been an interest of mine and I’d done a small amount of code before. After experiencing life at a tech firm first-hand through a family friend, I fell in love with the atmosphere at the company and instantly started looking at ways to get into the industry myself. I looked at bootcamps, yet London seemed to be the main place for these and I wanted to stay up north, which was why Northcoders stood out to me.

What area did you enjoy the most at Northcoders?

My favourite learning area was the Project block. We were in a project team with around 5 of my coursemates and the idea was to develop a new project from idea through to a finished product which involved demonstrations to some of Northcoder’s partners. I loved working in groups because we used Scrum principles and agile methodologies to simulate what it may be like to work in a real firm – ways of working that I now use today at Apadmi.

Which existing skills helped you to make the move into tech?

The softer skills from my marketing background transferred easily and helped massively with communication across internal teams and people outside of my project teams. I initially had this stereotypical developer image in my head, like someone out of the IT crowd – but I’m still yet to meet anyone like that. Everyone is so passionate about technology and problem-solving, it’s great to be a part of this alongside other Northcoders graduates. 

What advice would you give to someone looking for a career change?

My last exam at Uni was only a week before I started Northcoders bootcamp, so I was fresh out of Uni and ready to focus on my career. Northcoders provide you with a bunch of free learning materials so you can establish whether the course would be suitable for you before enrolling. I would encourage anyone to take the plunge – the team are fantastically supportive and genuinely committed to helping you get into the industry, and into a job that you’ll love. You’ve really got nothing to lose!

 

If you’d like to read more about how we became their first curriculum partner, head over to our earlier blog in this series hereOr, if you’d like to find out more about the process our Northcoders graduates have been through, Northcoders are running Q&A evenings in both Leeds and Manchester, find out more here.