This week I got a chance to connect with Rich on Twitter. He moved the country, was a scaffolder and made his way into the tech industry. I hope you enjoy reading!
Please introduce yourself
What was your background before learning to code?
So I moved from England to Sweden in 2010 having finished university in London (where i studied Film and Broadcast Production and majored in Script Writing), I was finding it hard to find work in the industry and my at the time girlfriend was pregnant with our first child.
After moving to Sweden I had to get a job where I didn’t have to know the language, so I became a scaffolder, something I’d never done before. I ended up living in Stockholm for 8 months and travelling back up to the north of Sweden (where we lived) at the weekends. It was pretty tough as my wife was pregnant and i didnt know the language. I finally got a job in the city we moved to (Örnsköldsvik) as a scaffolder and things were pretty steady for a while.
After a couple of years I began to get restless as I needed a creative outlet in my life. So I decided to start my own company on the side, long story short, I started a wooden sunglasses company, designed the glasses, outsourcing production to China, made the website in shopify (which was my first taste of making websites) and conducted all the marketing myself. After a year we had the glasses selling in shops in Stockholm and Örnsköldsvik as well as some other online retailers. I also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign where we were funded by 249%!
A couple more years past and the financial toll of marketing the company to grow was just too much so i decided to sell up. I ended up selling the company at a profit. But I was back to square one, without the creative outlet I needed so badly in my life.
What got you interested in coding and how did you learn to code?
My wife had seen a local adult course advertised in the local paper, to study to become a C# .NET developer. I had no interest and thought it would be too hard for me anyway but the thought of never doing anything else with my life scared the shit out of me so i decided to check it out. Unfortunately there were a couple of stumbling blocks, the course was in Swedish (which i didn’t speak) and i need to have better Maths grades than i currently had.
The solution was to commit to the idea of doing that coding course by enrolling in night classes to learn Swedish. After a while I took tjänstledighet which is kind of like leaving work to try something new. So my work agreed to let me study Swedish full time at a local adult college. I did that for 2 years while also completing my Maths and an initial Programming 1 course which was in C++.
I then applied for the C# course and got in! The course lasted 2 years, during that time i realized that even i could do this, and more than that, i actually really enjoyed and was quite good at it. I studied harder than I had at both school and university and passed all of my courses with top grades. I say this not to brag but to point out that sometimes when we take on studying something when we are grownups we do so with a renewed sense of vigour and focus, knowing it’s the thing that you want to do allows you to focus all of your energy in realising that dream.
During the course I fell in love with the web side of things and when it came time to do our work experience I got a place at a local network security company. I got to design a full stack application for the local council which helped show the competences a company needs for certain roles.
How did you get your first job in tech?
How did you prepare for an interview?
I gathered together previous projects I had done and any relevant things that i thought would impress, this happened to include the sunglasses company.
Any obstacles that you have to overcome in learning coding?
Not so much an obstacle but perseverance is key, I had to learn a new language to get on the course I took to learn to code. That was my journey though, you can just as well learn online yourself too.
Tips for newbies?
Don’t give up when things are tough. None of it is magic, everything can be learnt. The people who you think know it all have just practiced what they do. And most important of all, read the docs!
What are your plans in the future?
Around a year ago I started doing freelance technical content writing for various companies, that was the direction I wanted to take my career. I love to experiment with different things and write about how to do it, what problems I had and how to navigate them. That directly led to me now working at Prisma as a Tech Writer. I still code all the time and still do freelance writing.
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