Why we love career-changers

Categories: Recruitment & Hiring

If you are even slightly experienced in tech, you are probably aware of the ever-growing movement of career-changers joining the software and tech industry. You might also have heard of ‘coding bootcamps’ which attract (amongst other cross-sections) a huge number of these career-changers.

This is me. Phil Walton. I shamelessly jumped on the tech bandwagon after a 13-year career in teaching. And what I’ve learnt and seen so far seems important to say… at least in a you-wont-be-here-again-so-capture-the-moment type of way.

Today, I’ll be giving you the inside scoop on why companies like GlobalLogic love to hire us career-changers. Perhaps you might even find yourself considering a career in tech…

So, I arrived at GlobalLogic one morning (with my ‘soft skills’ and my ‘github portfolio’) ready to begin a new challenge in the GlobalLogic academy: whose aim it is to transform skilled but ‘green’ coders into competent, fee-earning software consultants. Upon arriving, I assumed that current techies were thinking one of two things: either “here comes a brilliant, fresh-headed outside-the-box thinker with the untainted energy this company needs”, or, “who’s this bottom-rung muggle I’m going to have to babysit who doesn’t know his apk from his AWS”.

Given the huge amount of knowledge, skill and professional judgement even junior engineers are required to exercise as their daily bread-and-butter, it may seem obvious that the timescale for up-skilling us newbies is measured in months, not days.

So far, GlobalLogic’s Academy has taken us through a host of topics in a well-organised (but challenging) schedule: full-stack programming using javascript; end-to-end testing including cypress; Agile methodology; presentation skills; CI/CD tools like Jenkins; Infrastructure and Cloud Services like AWS and Terraform … These last two were completely new territory to me, but being delivered in clear, concrete terms as they were, I’m definitely feeling like a more rounded engineer, ready to commit these newfound skills to muscle memory in the upcoming ‘DevOps’ project week (at least that’s what I hope).

To deliver all this content, senior consultants within GlobalLogic have been joining us in the newly opened Engineering Centre in Manchester One, Portland Street. As new-starters, it’s totally mind-blowing to have this opportunity, and we spend just as much time asking them about their experiences in real client-facing situations as we do about the technical skills in hand.

So, fortunate enough as I am to be offered a place on this academy, what’s the problem? I’ll be ready in no time, right?

Well, it certainly doesn’t feel like that. And it’s got me thinking…

What does GlobalLogic see in us career-changers? What’s in it for them? Why do they love to hire us?

Now, your mind may have jumped right to the cynical answer. But even a moment to consider the financial outlay for our three-month training period, and the potential un-billed damage work we will most likely do on our first few client projects after that, seems to imply there is a far more honest strategy here.

I’m very aware that I’m sticking my neck out here, but I’ll try my best to tell you my top three reasons why I think someone like me (a career-changer) is such a good investment for a company like GlobalLogic.

  1. Career-changers have chosen tech!

Seriously, I sat down with a pen and paper one day thinking I’d make a list of new careers I would seriously consider leaving my job for and software was the only one that made it onto the lines.

There are many reasons for this: demand, pay, image… but the one that can’t be ignored is being (slightly or majorly) nerdy. It sounds obvious but believe me that most young people are actively repulsed by the idea of working with computers, the web, numbers and [shiver] … code. (They all* want to be footballers, singers, actors, and influencers).

So, consider this: by definition, career-changers in tech are immediately invested in this. We want to learn. We are happy to sit all day with a laptop and solve outwardly inconsequential problems in pursuit of a dopamine hit. And it’s worth remembering that not all people have that intrinsic motivation in their job.

  1. Hard-earned ‘soft skills’.

When there’s already so much to learn tech-wise, it’s easy to overlook the importance of skills like patience, endurance, presence, and influence. It’s even easier to throw these words around in a job interview, broad as their definitions are.

A few good examples of working in a team, or overcoming a negative outcome, and who’s to say you can’t put these words into action. In my own experience, I actually was nervous about these types of questions at my interview – not because I didn’t have the experiences to back up my answers, but because I was sure a hundred other candidates had given extremely similar and convincing answers, too.

But, career-changers have worked in dozens of teams and lived through a thousand negative outcomes. They’ve been forged in the fires of staff-meetings, deadlines, policy changes, overtime requests and salary reviews. So, when faced with the inevitable strains of the right-side-of brain tech challenges, drawing on previous experiences will leave their emotional and cognitive left-side capacities with room to spare!

  1. This is the way.

Having no previous real-world coding experience can give someone a unique blank-slate perspective and make them less likely to have bad habits. I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but I instinctively leave comments-blocks in my code: if it took me this much thinking to solve the problem, I can’t possibly expect the next person to grasp it (smug face).

I also find myself going ‘deep’ when picking up any new bit of tech for the first time: why should I use this? What advantage does it actually offer? Why is that syntax different here? What’s this package actually doing under the hood? It’s probably classic imposter-syndrome that makes me feel the need to understand new things as I make up for lost time. But, the more I learn about working in software, the more I get the feeling that life-long learning is simply ‘the way’.

Closing thoughts

So, I’ve well and truly flogged the message that career-changers are good for tech companies. GlobalLogic already knows this, and the high-quality training they’re currently providing for me (before doing any fee-earning work) is testament to this belief.

If you’re reading this blog five years from now, you could do some LinkedIn searching on me to either confirm or completely obliterate my point: will my career-changing experience and temperament get me there, or will I be found out for the primary-school teacher I am/was?

Either way, that would be a laugh! If it’s the former, and you’re in management and/or recruitment, I hope you (continue to) give career-changers the time they deserve in your searches. And if you’re thinking of changing career and ‘going tech’, I hope you make that incredibly courageous leap. Big tech needs you.

Make sure to watch out for our next GlobalLogic Academy which takes on us newbies twice a year!

About The Author

Phil Walton, Delivery Consultant at GlobalLogic. I’m a life-long learner with a strong belief in the benefits of ‘struggle’. I made the move from teaching to tech early 2022 by completing the ‘NorthCoders’ coding bootcamp before accepting the position here. Outside academy hours, I’m broadening my skill-set by learning more about infrastructure.

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