interview with software development graduate

Level Up Your Skills: An Interview with Developer Niamh Doyle, CodeOp Alumna

The software development industry thrives on innovation, but that spark can only truly ignite with diverse perspectives. Recognising this, Zartis is proud to have partnered with CodeOp, a leading social venture dedicated to empowering women, trans, and non-binary individuals in tech. 

This year marks the 5th round of our Level Up program and we had the chance to start a collaboration with CodeOp and support their mission to address the gender disparity in tech through technical training and game-changing partnerships with local and regional governments as well as NGOs and corporates. 

And thus, a new scholarship track called ‘Level Up: Diversity in Tech’ was born – helping aspiring developers across the whole spectrum with the skills and support needed to launch successful careers in tech.

Headquartered in Barcelona, CodeOp is dedicated to changing the culture of tech. The team focuses on providing a comprehensive and supportive educational experience to help its students thrive in the industry through a safe space approach, rigorous training, partnerships, and a global tech community of over 21,000 individuals.They’ve supported women, trans and nonbinary people from over 80 different countries worldwide, and their training courses are taught in Catalan, Spanish, English and Portuguese.

Recently, we had the opportunity to catch up with Niamh Carolin Doyle, one of our most promising CodeOp alumni, as she graduated from the programme and is now ready to dive into the job market. We sat down with Niamh to hear about her experience in the Level Up program and more specifically, the CodeOp Fullstack Web Development Bootcamp. Niamh’s journey to tech is an inspiring one, and her insights offer valuable guidance for aspiring developers.

 

Niamh Carolin Doyle – A Passionate Frontend & Full-stack Web Developer

 

  1. Can you share a little about your professional background and what motivated you to apply for Level Up and join the CodeOp coding bootcamp?

I previously worked in the anti-money laundering compliance department of a financial technology company and before that as a highschool languages teacher and a proofreader. I also have a PhD in linguistics.

I had always been curious about programming but never thought of myself as a “tech person” – rather a “languages person” – and didn’t have the self-confidence to pursue a computer science degree upon finishing school and believed, incorrectly, that strong skills in maths were needed to become a programmer. In my previous role in compliance, I worked closely with engineers and whenever I saw their screens with colourful and pretty-looking code, I used to say to myself “I wish I could do that”.

When I saw colleagues without a CS degree transition into engineering after doing bootcamps, including women, it got me thinking whether I too could transition into tech. And in fact, I was previously told by colleagues I would be a good fit for a tech role and should pursue it. (I have since learned that code tickles the same part of my brain that delights in studying the morphosyntax of human languages.)

One day while browsing social media, I came across the Level Up programme and I applied. And I am very happy I did.

 

  1. What were your initial expectations of the bootcamp and how did the reality compare?

I was initially hesitant to apply as I didn’t know whether I would be good enough. But, with my prior skills I need not have worried. I had already satisfied the pre-course materials, other than GIT, which didn’t take me long to pick up the basics of. Most people on the course had entered without any prior knowledge.

My goal with the course was to learn and become comfortable with backend web development. And I achieved that for the most part.

 

  1. Can you describe your skill level in coding and technology before starting the bootcamp and how it has evolved since completing the program?

I started to teach myself how to code in 2020, by following tutorials on Udemy, starting with Python and then moving on to Javascript, CSS, React and a little Next.js.

Before the bootcamp I was able to build basic console and GUI programs in Python on my local machine, including integrating with SMS and email. I could build responsive web pages with CSS and web apps with vanilla JS, and I was reasonably familiar with React and the VSCode IDE. However, I was stuck in what is known as “tutorial hell”, meaning I wasn’t building projects from scratch on my own, but instead was largely following code-along tutorials.

The bootcamp gave me the confidence to build my own apps from scratch on my own, and not only frontend applications with React, but fullstack applications using Express and MySQL. The programme also taught me the basics of data structures, unit testing, and databases, and how to work with Vue, SQL, NPM, Git and GitHub. Because of going through the course and undertaking the assignments and project work, I am now confident in React, TailwindCSS, Git and GitHub.

Since finishing the course I have further explored Next.js, TypeScript, and furthered my skills in data, particularly SQL, PostgreSQL, and NoSQL.

 

  1. The coding program emphasKodōizes hands-on learning. Could you share a project or an assignment that was particularly impactful for you?

My personal (solo) project – KØdo – (which is WIP) was intended as an app to help parents manage home life with children by collating information on their children and sharing this information with other trusted guardians on a need-to-know basis. It is built with React, TailwindCSS, Express, and MySQL. It taught me a lot about working with state management and state updates in React and setting up a REST API. In later applications, I incorporated authentication, password hashing and file upload capabilities.

Another recent project I am very happy with is an image gallery app made with Next.js, TypeScript, and Vercel Postgres. What made this project particularly cool was that it was deployed to the web and I got to play with Drizzle and Vercel, which made building and deploying a full stack application with Next.js both fun and painless. It started out as a tutorial and I added additional features of my own.

 

Check out Niamh’s GitHub profile here: 

Check out the KØdo project here: https://github.com/niamh-d/refactored-pancake  

 

  1. As I understand, projects were developed collaboratively with other students. I’d call it an early version of a software squad – how did you find that experience? Any learnings?

The (4-week-long) team project was hands down the best part of the course. I really enjoyed working with the two other students on our project, from conceptualisation and design – user stories, wireframes, relationship diagrams and endpoints – right through code merges and conflicts to completion and everything in between. I was the PM for the project and I really enjoyed the challenge of keeping the project on track, reviewing PRs, assigning and combing tickets and generally the process of working in a team all contributing code to a shared repo, with all the pros and cons that entails. I wouldn’t complain if there were even more opportunities for workgroups and collaboration during the course.

 

  1. What aspects of the bootcamp’s curriculum did you find most challenging, and how did you overcome these challenges?

The pace of the camp was quick. There was always an assignment to work on. Even though I did the part time course – morning classes 3 times a week over 6 months – the continuous coursework kept me busy in-between classes. I have a perfectionist mindset, which has its pros and cons, so in this case, it meant keeping myself very busy, beyond what the course required. 

In terms of topics, I found the data structure lessons to be tricky at times. It was a marathon and I was exhausted at the end, but also very proud of what I had learned and achieved and how my skills and confidence had developed.

 

  1. How well do you think the bootcamp prepared you for the job market, especially in Europe?

Now that I have gone through the bootcamp I feel ready to jump into my first role in tech. I feel confident I would be able to deliver, but the job market is unfortunately very challenging right now, especially for new developers trying to secure their first role. Employers want 1–3 years of professional experience at a minimum, and for roles that don’t require experience, such as internships, a computer science or similar degree is requested. Furthermore, internships are geared to current or recent graduates, which thus excludes career switchers, like myself. That is besides the challenge that certain geographies see less of a demand for skills in React and Node/Express, but rather require technologies outside of the Javascript/ECMAScript ecosystem.

 

  1. CodeOp is dedicated to creating a supportive community for women, trans, and nonbinary individuals entering or upskilling in the tech industry. How has being part of this community impacted your experience in the bootcamp and your confidence in entering the tech industry?

It was great to be able to study alongside other women and nonbinary persons in a supportive environment. We looked out for one another and became a little family over the course of the 6 months together. I made a number of good friends through the bootcamp. There were some tearful eyes on the last day.

 

  1. Lastly, for someone considering joining a coding bootcamp, especially if they are changing career paths like you did, what advice would you give based on your own experiences?

Embrace the imposter syndrome, being bad at new things, not knowing, and being outside your comfort zone. Before signing up for a bootcamp I would suggest following a few free tutorials online and playing with code on your own to see if it’s really for you, i.e. whether the joy of finally getting it to work outweighs the frustration of learning hard things and debugging. You have to have a genuine passion for programming, as that passion will get you through the inevitably more frustrating days.

But if you do indeed find it is for you, then jump and get stuck in. Web development can be immensely fun, exciting and fulfilling. And a bootcamp is a great way to build up your confidence developing applications from scratch on your own.

 

Calling All Tech Innovators: Hire the Future

Niamh Doyle’s story is a testament to the power of programs like Level Up. Her talent and dedication, honed by CodeOp’s exceptional training, make her a valuable asset to any tech team. But Niamh isn’t alone. The Level Up program is brimming with graduates like her, eager to contribute their unique skills and perspectives to the industry.

Here’s your chance to be a part of the future. Explore the Level Up: Diversity in Tech program and reach out to us to connect with talented individuals ready to revolutionise the tech landscape.

 

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