At 26, I was a Window Fitter

When I was 26, I worked as a window fitter – I enjoyed the work, but I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t a career I’d chosen. I’d always done well at school but lost motivation during my A-levels. At the time, I didn’t have a plan for any future education or real career aspirations, so I quit school and moved between a few jobs in the building trade.

I started to feel like I needed a new challenge, preferably in a different industry. But on reflection, there weren’t many opportunities available, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do. As we entered the 2008 recession, it felt like the ideal time to make some drastic changes – my work was quietening down and I had a young family to support.

So, I quit my job and enrolled on an Access to Higher Education course, which upon completion would give me the entry requirements to study for a degree. I settled on Business Studies because it covered a broad range of disciplines, and I could later decide on an area to focus on career-wise. But when I looked into it, the only Access to Higher Education course available was a Business and Computing Diploma with only two modules of business and eight for computing! To cut a long story short – I loved the computing side of it and on completion, enrolled on a Computing and Information Systems degree at UCP Peterborough.

During a second-year lesson, we had guest speakers from Compare the Market come and talk to our class. They explained how they take a feature from an idea through the software development life cycle and how it eventually ends up in front of their customers. I’d started to wonder what would be next after university and at the end of their talk, they told us that they would offer two summer work placements – not only could we gain some first-hand experience, but we’d get paid too! They held an interview day, and I was successful.

The placement lasted for three months. I was part of a team that developed an iOS app that could read a QR code on an electricity bill and then provide quotes for the customer to switch to and save money from. It was a great experience!

I was a peer from day one, ideas I had were listened to and sometimes actioned. I wrote code, I paired with other developers, I released features to production and resources were provided to me to allow me to learn. After this placement, I knew two things:

1. I had made the right decision to choose a computing degree and
2. I wanted to work at Compare the Market.

Fortunately, they offered me a position as a Junior Software Engineer to start once I had completed my degree the following summer. I finished my degree eight years ago and I’ve worked at Compare the Market ever since, and I’m now a Senior Software Engineer. I have been given so many opportunities, continued support and resources to learn and grow as a developer. In software, there’s always something new to learn or a problem to solve and I love the challenge.

As Compare the Market has evolved, new technologies have been adopted and there’s always opportunities to move between teams to learn something new – it never gets boring. And as well as developing code, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the development of features, allowing me to improve soft skills.

At Compare the Market, I’ve learnt that a career isn’t set – you can move roles, learn different languages, make a wrong choice, recover and continue to progress. Now I, along with many of my colleagues, help to support our newer developers who are just starting their career in software engineering.


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