Starting a career in coding can come at a young age for some whilst for others it can be a change in career that happens further into their professional working life. If you’re looking to become a Junior Developer there is valuable advice available online to help prepare you for the role.
At Claritas, we have developers at different levels working on clients of varying sizes and industries. James Cooke is one of them and we recently caught up with our junior developer to talk coding.
James Cooke – Junior Developer
When did you first become interested in coding?
When I worked in the private healthcare sector to get some experience to improve a medical school application, I realised that the field wasn’t actually for me. I knew I wanted a career, and not just a job, so I turned towards my life-long interest in technology for inspiration. My role as a care assistant saw me working in a rapidly changing environment.
One of my frustrations was that a solution to a problem one day may be completely ineffective the next day. This is when I realised that coding could be appealing as this issue doesn’t really occur (at least at a basic level), so I took a look online to see what coding was all about and have a go at it myself. That’s when I got hooked, and enrolled on a 1 year Master’s Degree in Computing (after doing a 3yr Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science!).
What is your career background?
My career is still in its infancy, but I have worked for 2 large multinational corporations as a junior developer prior to my position at Claritas. My initial placement was only for a very short time, but involved enhancing a system that supported the processes around organising and supporting clinical trials. I got this job right off the back of my Master’s Degree. In my second role, I took on a variety of tasks to enhance a long standing pensions administration system, whether it be everyday bug fixes, developing reports, or the addition of new/client-specific functionality.
What is your role at Claritas?
As a Junior Developer, my job is to help the development team develop software solutions as per client requirements. Typically, developers with less experience handle the development of the simpler tasks, whilst the more difficult tasks are handled by senior developers, with anything in between being handled by both. At Claritas however, any developer can take on any piece of work, simple or complex. As a junior, one day I could be adding some text and a button to a form, and the next day be making changes to complex algorithms that affect the core business logic of an application. The more difficult tasks do require more time and guidance to complete to the high standards we work to, but this type of development poses the best opportunity to learn and enhance my skillset, which in the long run is the best thing for both me and the business.
What do you enjoy about coding?
Developing software that other people are going to use to increase productivity, or to streamline a process is quite rewarding. This may sound boring when summed up in a generic manner like this, but when this concept is applied to the real world, it can mean patients can get access to the medical equipment they need faster, or police can collaborate more effectively to catch criminals sooner. That’s something to be proud of, and that’s just in my line of work at the moment. When you consider other fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Computer Aided Design, Simulation, Banking, Embedded Systems, Gaming, Music… there are endless opportunities to explore.
I also like the detective style work that is coupled with software development. At some stage something goes wrong, and I’ll have to figure out what’s gone wrong and try to fix it. Sometimes it can take minutes, sometimes it can take days! But when I’ve solved the puzzle it’s a great feeling. So many times I’ve gone home thinking I’ll never be able to solve the problem I encountered that day, but the day (or few days) after I always figure it out and I surprise myself.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about a career in coding?
Try at it out and see what you think. There are so many online resources to look at, for people who have never written a line of code, right through to content relevant to industry experts. If you try coding and get excited about what you could build if you got better, then I’d say go for it. If I’d have known what is was like sooner, I would have started sooner. It can seem quite intimidating thinking about it at first, but when you try it you soon get into the swing of things. It’s not the wizardry and witchcraft you might think it is where you have to make sense of a computer screen packed full of rainbow coloured numbers and symbols that look like digital hieroglyphics, nor do you have to be a whizz at maths. There’s plenty of scope for the more creative person to get involved as well. Coding isn’t exclusive to a certain type or group of people, and it can be quite fun when coding with other people of a similar mind-set too.
If you enjoy logical thinking and solving lots of simple problems to solve a big problem, try your hand at coding.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I never had any exposure to coding when I was young. It was always portrayed by my friends as being boring, and dull, that only introverted types like to do. Hearing this put me off from the start (as well as not having the opportunity to learn it at school), but it simply isn’t true. My advice is to try it for yourself so you can make your own judgement what it’s like (don’t even rely on what your close friends say). As a software developer I’ve learnt loads of new skills, and met some great people. I’m constantly in collaboration with members of my own team as well as other teams. It’s actually a very sociable job, and one that is in high demand so you’ll never be out of work. It ticks a lot of boxes!
I really like the video below. It’s very inspiring and it’s one I watched when I was thinking about becoming a software developer
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