Latest Bristol & SW tech news, updates and training dates for your diary.
We catch up with one of our Coding Fellowship Bootcamp graduate’s Kye. He absolutely flew through the Bootcamp; in fact he did so well we then hired him to work for us on graduation! He has since moved on to work for Swoop as a Software Developer.
We are now absolutely delighted to say he accepted our request to come back to Develop Me and teach on our Front End Web Development Course starting February 2020.
It’s always been about the code
For me, my life in code started before I’d found my first proper text editor. I’d been working in financial services for 5 years, from management and sales to project delivery, I was challenged but I wasn’t enjoying myself and I certainly didn’t feel valued.
Time for a change
Fed up with my work, I started soul-searching, is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life? I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t dreaming of working for a poorly-ran high street bank when I was in school, but I was playing with computers – a lot! Throwing around ideas of what I used to enjoy and several career advice questionnaires later, things just kept coming back to programming. I actually remember the National Careers Service suggested I’d become a Vicar, so things could be very different for me if I’d followed their advice. I kept faith in programming and I started to dig deeper into how I could become a developer.
This really shouldn’t have been news to me though. When I was a teenager, I was always “fixing” computers for friends and family. In fact, a friend and I started to build an absolutely terrible website in Dreamweaver as part of setting up a PC repair service – it didn’t really take off. Besides all of that, I enjoyed learning about these things and the challenges that came up. In 2008, I studied an IT course at City of Bristol College and it gave me a light introduction to HTML and CSS, I loved it! I’m still not entirely sure why but instead of following the natural route and completing a Computer Science degree, I decided to play poker for a living instead, I was never one for the straight and narrow…
Self study vs bootcamp
When I started my journey into programming, I decided to study from home. I’d finish work at 5pm, get home for 6pm, quickly eat tea and then turn on my PC. I didn’t really know where to start, there’s an insane amount of things to learn. I found a course on YouTube and started to build a portfolio site in Bootstrap and I seriously enjoyed it. I’d be up way past bedtime adding a new feature to the site or learning something new. I’d wish away my day at work just so I could get back to my personal projects at home.
I studied at home for around a year, but I didn’t really see how I was going to get a job from this and I’d been suffering from burnout for a while. I needed a fast-track, I was willing to take the risk to do something I really enjoy. It was actually my mum who found Develop Me and their coding bootcamp. I met Oli and Pete at the taster evening, everything felt right and I signed up for the Autumn 2017 cohort.
A decision I’ll never regret
I met some amazing people during the bootcamp, people that have changed my life. The course was exactly what I needed and it’s incredible just how much I learned, and gained in self-confidence, during those 12 weeks. Upon graduation I landed a Developer role at Lunar and I also became a Teaching Assistant at Develop Me. I’d never enjoyed my job(s) so much, I had amazing mentors there and these people truly valued me. Coding in itself is great and you learn an awful lot, but trust me when I say that when people ask you to explain what you know, that’s when you really learn. I felt like I had the perfect introduction to the industry.
After a year at Lunar, I started to look for a fresh challenge and applied for a Mid-Level Software Developer role at my current company Swoop. Swoop are an adventure travel company who recently moved their software development in-house. I joined them knowing that there would be lots of new things to learn and in the past 9 months I’ve played a key role in rebuilding our customer portal, feedback system and migrating some of our legacy code to Laravel.
One of the biggest things I’ve had to get used to is making mistakes, as a developer you’ll make plenty and you have to be comfortable with that – these mistakes will help you grow and mature as a developer. I’ve made some blunders of my own, but maybe you can ask me about that later. Basically, don’t edit code directly in production no matter how close the deadline is 🤦♂️.
Code === Fun
Sometimes I have to pinch myself, wondering if what I do for a living is really a job – for me, coding is no different to playing computer games. Despite leaving the bootcamp in 2017, I continue to invest a lot of my time learning new things, I listen to a couple of podcasts a day on my commute and will either use a lunch break or evening to work on a side project, the fun never stops!
Although web development may be all fun and games for me, the one thing I have missed since leaving Develop Me is teaching others, so I’m really excited they have asked me to go back and teach their 6 week part time Front end web development course starting in February! It is going to be so satisfying getting back to the classroom and you never know, perhaps I’ll learn a thing or two as well!
Three places on our Front End Web Development Course are being offered at a subsidised rate of £1,000, down from the usual £1,500, thanks to our hiring partners Swoop Patagonia and Goram and Vincent. After hiring some graduates from our flagship Coding Bootcamp both companies made contributions to our Opportunity Fund. This fund facilitates scholarship places on our part-time courses geared around increasing diversity in the tech industry.
Our first lucky recipient of a £500 scholarship is Hannah – a return to work mum. We had a chat to her about her career and what enrolling on the course means to her.
Student Profile – Hannah
What did you do before taking time out with the family?
I worked in TV for a few years but could barely pay the rent so got a job in a bank.
How has having a family changed your career outlook?
When I was young I used to think it would be fun to travel with work. Now my goal is to have a good job, but still be able to pick the kids up from school.
How long have you been considering learning to code?
Since I had my first son in December 2016 I’ve been trying to work out what I’ll do when I go back to work. I only started considering coding about six months ago but it made sense straight away.
What made you enrol on the Front End Web Development course with Develop Me?
I went along to the taster session and left feeling pretty chuffed that I’d found something I wanted to do that I reckon I can be pretty good at (obviously with a lot of hard work).
What difference has a scholarship place made to you?
I wasn’t exactly sure how I would pay for the course without it. It’s been two and a half years since I had an income so that bit of help made a massive difference.
What do you hope to do once you have finished the course?
Keep learning. My youngest is three in the summer of 2021 and that’s my goal to be back in full time work. I’ve got two years to go from beginner to pro.
How did you discover Develop Me?
A bit of googling. I found the three month bootcamp first and was trying to imagine how I could do that. But without my husband taking a three month sabbatical that would never happen. So I was thrilled when I found the evening course.
We have two more scholarships remaining on this course that are subsidised the course fees by £500. These scholarship places are made possible by our Opportunity Fund. Get in touch to apply firstname.lastname@example.org
Keir Moffatt our talented Front End Web Development Tutor can answer just about any question about Front End Web Development!
1 – What does a Front End Developer actually do?
2 – Freelance Work and the Job Market – how will it benefit your career?
The web industry is an extremely healthy market – it is constantly growing and evolving, and there always seems to be more work than people available to do it. As a result, it pays well and offers a very dependable career path, with plenty of variety and areas of specialty.
3- What online courses/resource would you recommend for learning Front End Web Development if on a budget?
I am largely self-taught and there are plenty of resources online to help you learn, if you are limited on time and budget. A good starting point are the free courses via Codecademy: https://www.codecademy.com/
4- Why pay for a classroom course with an expert tutor?
If you have the time and/or budget, the best approach is definitely a course – learning alongside others is really beneficial, and you can be assured the knowledge you are gaining is based on industry-standard approaches. Develop Me offer both full-time and part-time Web Developer courses, and have an impressive 98% employment rate at graduation.
5 – What kind of lifestyle can you have as a Freelance Front End Web Developer?
I have been a freelance web developer for over 18 years and I love the freedom and flexibility it gives me. I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, I can set my own hours, and I have been able to travel and explore other careers and hobbies. For example, I currently spend my winters teaching snowboarding in Andorra, and my summers travelling and doing web development. It is definitely a skillset that can help you build a good life/work balance.
6 – What can you earn as a Web Developer
Web development pays well – as a freelancer, you can expect a day rate upwards of £300, and even more if you work with London-based clients. In a full-time role, you can be looking at upwards from £35,000. These rates increase with experience and specialisation.
7 – What skills/background you need to become a Web Developer?
You don’t really need any specific background to get into web development – just curiosity and the desire and patience to learn. If you are logically-minded or quite process-driven, or have some experience of Mathematics or code, this will of course be beneficial – but people come to this industry from all walks of life, so anyone can learn. I sometimes think of coding as similar to what our brains do every day – as you make decisions, remember information and complete repetitive tasks; all things you will also learn to do in code!
8 – Why learn Web Development!?
For me, there are so many pros of web development – it is always evolving and presenting new challenges, so I have never grown bored in my 18 year career. There are loads of different technologies and specialties, so the options for growth and change are endless. It is in high demand, pays well and can provide freedom and flexibility. And finally is both challenging and fun – and quite addictive!
The only con is that you obviously spend a fair amount of time looking at a screen – but we all do that in this day and age anyway!
We are currently taking bookings for our Front End Web Development Course with Keir starting in September. More info here.
Why a Coding Bootcamp in Bristol?
How, and why, we started Develop Me is something we talk about often with prospective students and people interested in our business, but it’s never been put down in black and white. So for the record, here it is.
Develop Me has a founding team of three –
Prior to starting the company we all worked in the digital, tech and creative industries in various guises. Oli was a long time Developer and Tech Director, Al owned and managed Creative and Digital agencies, and I worked in Tech Recruitment (bad rep I know, but I did things the right way).
I met Oli in 2012 when helping him to make a move in his career into a new Tech Director role at an advertising agency. We hit it off, became friends and over time I helped him to build his team at that agency. Finding and hiring Developers at that time was becoming increasingly difficult, the growing skills gap was having a noticeable impact – and recruitment had become a game of moving the same pool of people from one company to another. Something needed to be done and it seemed obvious to me that this needed to be tackled from the ground up.
All great ideas start in the pub
Oli and I were at the pub talking about the issues facing the industry from a recruitment perspective. I’d stumbled across the Coding Bootcamp model that was gaining traction in the US and said to Oli: “This is an interesting model, would be great if something like this existed over here.”
His response… “We could do that.”
A few months later, we caught wind of someone else (unbeknownst to us, our future partner Al) making tracks down the same path. On many occasions we seemed to be meeting with the same people, often on the same day, talking about the same idea of setting up a Coding Bootcamp in Bristol. Eventually, our paths crossed with Al – a twitter message, led to a meeting and an almost identical business plan for a Coding Bootcamp.
A coding course leading to a job in tech
It made perfect sense to join forces – Oli had the technical expertise and could develop and deliver the curriculum, Al had business experience and a keen interest in progressive and innovative business models, and I had insight into what the industry needed and could line-up job opportunities for our bootcamp graduates.
We very nearly didn’t make it, encouraging people to part with the best part of £8,000 on an unproven programme is, unsurprisingly, difficult. However, we were confident we could teach people everything they needed to know to land a job as a Junior Developer in 12 weeks. It took a lot of faith from that first cohort to make the leap and invest in both their, and our, future. We ended up running that first cohort short on students and making a financial loss, however, the decision to go ahead rather than jack it all in, has thankfully proved to be an excellent one.
5 years later – thriving Bristol Coding Bootcamp!
So here we are 5 years after that night in the pub with 13 runs of our Coding Bootcamp complete, tons of happy graduates transitioned into tech, an employment rate of 98%, and a growing network of hiring partners that keep coming back to us for more Developers.
Learning about teaching people to code
We have learnt a lot; about ourselves, about each other, about teaching people to code, about business, about risk, about people, about the importance of collaboration, about complacency and about never standing still.
When we started out we were the first Coding Bootcamp in the South West and only the second in the UK. There are a few more around these days, some right on our doorstep. We haven’t stopped moving since the day it all started and can’t see a time when we will. This industry progresses so quickly – we embrace that pace of change and relish the opportunity we have been given to help people looking to accelerate their careers in tech and help companies to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with technology.
Our door is always open
4 places available on our P/T Courses thanks to our amazing Opportunity Fund
We are really keen to ensure that all talented individuals are given an equal opportunity to pursue a career in Tech. To facilitate this we have made available two places on our part-time Front End Course and 2 places on our part time User Experience Course at a reduced rate thanks to our Opportunity Fund.
- Front-End Web Development 7th September – 15th October (x 2 places at a reduced rate of £1000 / usual cost £1500)
- Part Time UX-Design Course 5th September – 7th November (x 2 places at a reduced rate of £1950 / usual cost £2450)
The course is delivered in a flexible schedule to fit around job and child care restrictions.
These subsidised places are being offered to two groups which are heavily under-represented in tech: Women and those who identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic.
The four places on our current scheme has been made possible through our hiring partners Swoop Patagonia and Goram and Vincent who have kindly contributed to this Opportunity Fund, after hiring some graduates from our flagship Coding Bootcamp.
Opportunity Fund for Front End Development and UX Design
The Develop Me ‘Opportunity Fund’ is specifically designed for students who are otherwise unable to afford to pay full price for training. With the UK’s digital sector creating jobs twice as fast as the wider economy, developing digital skills has never been more important. We hope to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry and actively support students who are underrepresented in the tech community, including, but not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, educational background or employment history.
“As the digital revolution increasingly touches every aspect of our lives, the UK needs a technology workforce that reflects the full diversity of the people who use that technology.”
If you are interested in applying for these subsidised places please email email@example.com and outline a bit about your background, current situation and why you would like to attend the course – we look forward to hearing from you.
Deadlines for applications:
— 15th August 2019.
Develop Me offer a comprehensive full-time 12-week coding bootcamp (the 5-star rated Coding Fellowship), a 10-week part-time User Experience Design, a 2 day UX Fundamentals Course & a 6-week part-time Front-End Web Development course.
Live Client Project
As part of the student learning experience on our part time 10 week UX Design course at Develop Me, we work on live projects and we are very proud to have given two Bristol charities a complete UX Design overhaul of their websites. This collaboration has resulted in each organisation receiving highly valuable consultancy services; resulting in several clickable wireframe solutions free of charge which they can implement immediately into their website.
Benefits to the Client
Whichever design they choose will:
– Improve the experience for their website visitors
– Increase the ‘desired actions’ executed on the website
– Improve profits
The students on our course benefit from working alongside a real client from day one by being exposed to real life research, client communication and learning to collaborate and design as part of a team delivering user-centred solutions.
New Client needed!
We are now looking for another local charity to offer this service to and are welcoming applications to be part of this exciting jointly beneficial venture.
Essentially our students, with the involvement and guidance of our outstanding will run a full UX process with you, on your project.
– Unpacking your challenges and what you want to achieve with your website/app
– Defining your audience and their needs
– Audience research
– Website usability testing
– Information architecture (site map)
– User stories and user journey mapping
– Interactive prototypes of new features for your new website
– Final presentation and handover
Past UX Clients
To date we have collaborated with Penny Brohn and The Matthew, both Bristol charities. They have been overwhelmed by the variety of insights, research and applied wireframes they were presented; many already developed and ready to be implemented into their website structure.
‘It really felt like a gift being offered this level of quality work free of charge as we would never have been able to afford to pay for this ourselves’ (Penny Brohn)
Both clients would be happy to discuss with any organisation considering applying for the September project, how they found the process and give advice on how to prepare for the process.
To apply please have this set up, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Requirements for a great UX Design Project Client
You would need to attend 3-4 sessions on a Thursday night, between mid September and November:
1. Discovery workshop
2. Audience research
3. Information architecture workshop
4. Project presentation
We discuss with you how the research will be conducted – this would really best suit a website with a fairly complex structure and/or one that serves multiple audiences. Or a site that has been around for a while and needs to be evolved to keep up with the expectations of today’s website visitors.
Register your interest
The best thing to do is let us know if you are interested and we can discuss this further. You are also welcome you to pop down to our campus at Develop Me to meet the team!
Our part-time User Experience Design (UXD) course teaches all the key skills required to research, define, design and develop digital services based upon user-centred design principles. It has been developed to help anyone looking to up-skill or change career and move into the ever increasing number of roles in UX Design.
For more information please register your interest here.
Hannah Smith is one of our newest instructors at Develop Me. She is an agile technical project manager, WordPress developer and leads Bristol WordPress People. Hannah teaches the WordPress unit of the Develop Me Coding Fellowship, when she’s not snowboarding…
Here’s her story of a life in code.
I’ve been programming since about the age of 15, circa 1998. When I look back I find it hard to recall exactly what attracted me in the first place. It definitely wasn’t one thing that lured me in, but a combination of things. I won’t bore you to death with an analysis of those things but there are definitely two major influences:
Dial-up internet arrived a year or so before. My parents ran a business from home and realised that they were missing out by not having emails so we got connected. At the time I was really into tropical fish — I loved the way they swam around in shoals being all sparkly and pretty. I wanted a way to share that passion with others, and knew that building a website would be a great way to do that. As a teenager with £3 a week pocket money I knew this meant learning to build it myself.
I would wait until my parents had finished working in the office for the evening and would sneak in to code my site with the lights off, hoping the dial-up noises didn’t alert them to the fact that I was yet again running up the bills. I found myself getting a kick from mastering HTML and being able to present my information as I wanted.
Making websites and digital art opened up an entirely new way of being creative to me.
To my amazement, all that work paid off and people actually visited my site and chatted in my forums. I still put that down to my awesome animated gifs!
Another huge influence was The Matrix, which came out in 1999 and totally blew my mind. I saw that the world of computers had almost limitless potential if you could just imagine what to do with them and knew how to use them. Neo and Trinity were so blistering cool.
Suddenly being a geek meant you could actually save the world.
Roll on a few years and at age 18 I went to university to study Computer Science. You might expect me to say I’ve never looked back and I skipped off into coding nirvana….
It didn’t quite go like that.
I loved my degree but I didn’t finish it. I signed up for a 4 year MEng but dropped out a little way into the fourth year. The tutoring and 1:1 help wasn’t great and when I got stuck I didn’t really feel that I had anyone to turn to. It was a case of re-reading the same instructions in my notes or text-book and trial and error until finally something ran. Stack Exchange wasn’t on the scene back then — oh how I love it these days!
My experiences of being left to get on with it during my uni years is one of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much these days. Being able to help and support others as they start their coding journey and retrain their brains to think in the right way is a real privilege.
I always felt very different from most of my class mates. Out of one hundred, five of us were girls, and one of the girls only lasted a term. Most of the fellas seemed scared to talk to me because… well I never really got it, but I suppose it was because I had boobs and the fact I had other interests outside of coding. The whole gender diversity thing is a topic for another blog… but I am immensely chuffed to see how things are changing and how much support there is for women in tech now. Nice one ladies! Anyway, I digress…
I was so saddened by my decision to quit.
I have never quit at anything in my life. Part of me felt like I’d failed, but part of me knew that it was ultimately the right thing to do. Thankfully that feeling of failure didn’t last long as I walked away with a BSc and three weeks after quitting I got my first techy job. I worked at a small digital agency who made websites, games, animations, films and software. Yes all those things. It was mental but I loved it! I worked hard and learned a lot about coding in the real world. It ended up being a brilliant move. I felt like I had finally arrived.
You might be expecting me to say that I’ve been working in tech or coding ever since, but no.
My passion had always been for the environment so after three years I went off to the Environment Agency to do good. I took an eight year detour away from coding and focused all my career energy on getting good at management: people management, programme management, portfolio management, systems management and strategic business change. Decision making, basically.
You might think that knowing how to code had nothing to do with that career sidestep into management, but far from it.
Learning to code trained me to problem solve, think critically and make decisions and those skills were invaluable in my management career.
After the Environment Agency, I felt burnt out by trying to save the planet, especially when we got hit by the government’s austerity programme, so I went travelling for a year with my other half. We went to New Zealand, bought a van and lived like hobos for a while. We did a heck of a lot of surfing, biking and snowboarding out there. It was cool! It gave me space and time to think about what to do next and what my life priorities needed to be.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could get my work life balance to a better place.
I noticed a curious thing start to happen. If it came up in conversation with people we met that I knew a bit of coding and how websites worked, invariably the next part of the conversation would go, “I’ve got a website, can you help me?”. Literally every time. I got offered so much paid work it was crazy, even though my skills were pretty rusty. It even paid for a ten day stay in the Maldives on the way home.
On our return home, I realised just how much I loved coding and that I’d missed it a lot. It was such a refreshing contrast to working in management and business change, where it could take two years or more to see the fruits of your labour. Coding is very instant and those receiving your finished work get the benefits of what you have done almost straight away. I decided to set myself up as a freelance web developer. I used to know a lot and be good at it, how hard could it be?
Answer: much harder than I thought.
The learning curve was immense and whilst I still knew how coding worked and how to think in the right way, my knowledge was seriously archaic. I do love learning, and that’s part of why working in this industry thrills me so much. Every day is a school day. Nonetheless, I got sick of never having heard of all these different tools and feeling like I knew nothing. What the hell was Gulp, Grunt and WebPack? Didn’t they all do the same thing? Why were there so many solutions that solved the same problems? Or did they do the same thing? Argh!
If I was to make that switch again, I would definitely book onto an intensive bootcamp or training course like the Coding Fellowship that DevelopMe offer. Having more guidance from trusted developers to find my way through the possibilities would have accelerated my transition a whole lot. Instead I felt like I was back at uni — billy no mates who learned through getting it wrong a thousand times before figuring it out.
The good news is after about a year, I found myself evening out a bit. I was starting to actually know what these different tools were and how to use them effectively. I also became involved in several tech meet-ups in Bristol which helped enormously. The big moment came for me when rather than saying yes to a project and figuring out how to do it later, I would actually have done it or something like it before. Such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt I could look people in the eye and say “I am a web developer, not a fraud”.
The best bit about coming back to coding? The freedom.
The remote working opportunities are amazing. Right now I’m away in the Italian Dolomites for three months soaking up some of that work life balance I mentioned a while back. Every morning I have breakfast and then head out into the mountains to snowboard, toboggan or just hike. Then I settle down in the afternoon and write some code. Magic really.
I’m sure my journey won’t end here. But one thing that is constant in my story is just how good a decision learning to code has been for me. Whether or not I’ve had jobs as a programmer, the training I got to think critically, break problems down into bite-sized chunks and view feedback as a gift have been skills that have been the backbone of my career to date.
As we conduct more and more of our daily personal and business lives online, it’s never been more critical for digital services to create seamless interactions and user experiences that are both intuitive and effective.
As a result, businesses are recruiting talent to help design interactive services that bridge the gap between people and technology – this is the role of the UX Designer.
In direct response to this demand we’ve created the User Experience (UX) Design Bootcamp – a part-time 10 week, project driven, intensive course developed and delivered by industry experts.
This new course – aimed at beginners with no previous design or technical experience – will teach all the skills required to research, define, design and develop digital services and products – based upon user-centred design principles.
The first Bristol intake starts in September 2018 – applications are open now – please apply here.
If you would like to find out more about the application process please contact us.
I studied Jewellery Design at University and went on to work for a jewellery company in London as their website manager. This involved uploading photos, producing newsletters, helping redesign their eCommerce website and going through a branding change.
Why are you attending the Coding Fellowship?
2 years ago I decided I wanted to change career and started running my own jewellery business. I wanted to learn to code to add more strings to my bow to help my business.
When I worked for the jewellery company our website was built by Meanbee. From my experience of working with them I thought their job sounded really interesting. I’m looking forward to being on the other side of the fence soon!
What role are you looking for after the Coding Fellowship?
I want to work within the Bristol tech scene, and the Coding Fellowship is a great route into that.
I like the creative aspect of web development, and would be very happy working for a company on in-house projects, or working for an agency in a client-facing role.
What was your coding experience before the Coding Fellowship?
I had used Codecademy’s online resources a little, mostly just learning some HTML and CSS is as far as I’d got.
How have you found the Fellowship so far?
Really good! Learning is always satisfying, especially when you’re studying something that a few weeks ago seemed like gobbledegook: incomprehensible, impenetrable & possibly, actually, maybe just magic?
Now I get to revel in being on the opposite side of that equation – I’m really relishing the feeling of ultimate power you get when something starts working correctly!
All the other members of the cohort are sound as a pound, as are the tutors. The workspace is brilliant (especially the pingpong table ) & I’m now completely addicted to caffeine, which I feel can only be a good thing.
What have you enjoyed most?
What have you found hardest?
Interested in becoming a web developer?
Attend a Coding Fellowship Introduction Evening taster workshop.
Download the Coding Fellowship information pack.
Sign up for updates about the course, students and employers.
OUR FIRST STUDENTS HAVE JUST EMBARKED ON THEIR JOURNEY TO BECOMING WEB DEVELOPERS
The Spring Cohort of the Coding Fellowship began on May 9th, based down at Bristol’s Paintworks the fellowship is the South West’s first coding bootcamp. The programme includes a 12 week intensive taught element – teaching the fundamentals of web development – a paid industry work placement and help finding employment as a web developer upon graduation.
The Bristol and Bath region has recently been recognised as the largest regional digital hub in the UK and with predictions that the digital industries will grow faster than any other in the coming decade, it’s a great time to be learning to code and joining the thriving tech sector. You can read more about this in the recent Tech Nation Report.