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Dafydd Archard: Code Institute Graduate

Sound Engineer to Software Engineer

After working in a totally different industry for twelve years, Dafydd Archard, a recent Code Institute graduate, felt as though he had not only reached, but exceeded his professional expectations and ambitions.

To uncover new challenges, Dafydd graduated from Code Institute in November and began his career as a software developer in the very same month. Six months into his new career as a Full Stack Software Engineer, Dafydd kindly spoke to us, his alma mater, to let us know how he’s finding life in his new job.

Please Introduce Yourself

My name is Dafydd Archard, I am 34, and I live in London.

Before Code Institute, what did you do?

I was a Sound Engineer for 12 years working in the Film Industry.

Personally, what drew you towards Code Institute?

The opportunity to study remotely and manage my own time.
I wanted to transition into Web Development, but I would not have been able to quit my job and undertake a full-time Full-Stack bootcamp. Finding a reputable Full Stack course that I could commit to in my own time was really the only way I could do this.

The initial contact I had with Code Institute over the phone gave me the confidence that this course was legitimate, and not just another coding course out there.

Why did you decide to change your career to Software Development?

After 12 years in one industry, I felt like I had reached a point where I had achieved everything I set out to achieve in my first career. I managed to accrue around 60 screen credits on some really really big projects, I won awards for my work and even attended the Oscars and Baftas. But all that said, I didn’t feel like the job I was doing day to day could sustain my interest for another 20+ years. I’d always followed tech quite closely and attempted to learn how to code a couple of times, but it never stuck. I made the decision to do a course like this to push myself into making a significant change.

How did your portfolio of projects help secure your career change?

I think it went some way actually. I know in the company I work for now, for every candidate we interview our engineers look at the candidates GitHub and code to ascertain how capable they are and what experience they have. I was even asked in my third round interview with the CTO to show him one of my projects. Without projects, I don’t think there would have been a chance.

What is your current role?

I work as a Junior Full Stack Software Engineer at Tails.com.

When you sit down at your new desk, is there a cup of tea or a cup of coffee on it?

Coffee

Now that you’ve changed career, what is a typical workday like for you?

We have core hours so I can get in anytime between 7 & 10 am and leave anytime between 4 & 7 pm. We also have a dog-friendly office, so I walk to work for around 9:30 with my dog. I get in, if there is something I need to deploy, I’ll get that ball rolling first thing, starting a build on staging. I take a look at what stories (tickets) we have for this sprint for our squad. Depending on what’s happening I may pick a new one, continue with the one I’ve been working on, or review someone else’s work. (We all review each other’s work all the time) at 10 am every day we have standup.

After that, it’s back to the task at hand. Throughout the sprint, we have other meetings, sprint planning, refinement sessions and retrospectives where we plan our upcoming sprints but not every day.

We do a lot of pairing and collaborative work which I get a lot out of. Also sometimes I may work from home but can still attend all meetings remotely.

Every day is different!

What part of Code Institute’s Full Stack Software Developer Course, would you say you draw upon most often in your new career?

Learning how to figure stuff out on your own. That skill doesn’t end. Even though I’m a Junior, no-one gives me the answer to a problem. I am helped along the way, but you still have to be very resourceful. Our stack is a Python-based Flask Stack on Docker. So having experience with Flask has been really useful.

Since starting your new job, what’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

That building software is not just about writing code. It’s about working in a team and meticulously planning the tasks at hand. We plan every piece of work we do before we do it.

How has your career change impacted your life?

It’s given me a real sense of purpose and motivation to continuously learn. I love what I do, and just want to keep learning. Apart from a temporary pay cut, I really don’t have anything negative to say about changing careers. It’s opened up a whole new set of doors and is really exciting!

When coding; do you listen to music or podcasts?

Music.

Does your town/city suit your life as a Software Developer?

Absolutely. I live in Richmond Upon Thames in London and luckily work in Richmond too. There are other tech companies in the area. eBay, PayPal, Not on the High St, Gumtree, PowWowNow. It’s a little hub outside the silicon roundabout. The city is 30 min away, so there are tons of opportunities, meet-ups etc.

Do you find that hobbies/activities outside of coding help with your work?

I like to build little tools and applications in my spare time so that helps! I play the guitar, walk the dog, like cooking and have a mild obsession with motorcycles. With such an emphasis on continuous learning, I think it’s important to have some activities in your life that take your mind off coding and learning. Sometimes the weight of topics to learn can be quite a drain, being pragmatic about what is actually achievable and learning to step away is really important. It is quite easy to overload your brain at times, and nothing sticks when you’re in that frame of mind. So in a sense, hobbies that have nothing to do with coding, will actuality help you to code by enabling you to have time away and hit the reset button.

How has the ICT sector changed since you’ve begun working in it?

I’ve been in it for 6 months so not a lot!

Since changing career/upskilling, what do you enjoy most about your new role?

Collaborating. Challenging myself. And learning every day.

Knowing what you know now; what would piece of advice would you like to give yourself before starting your career change journey?

You should have done this earlier! Accept you will never know everything. Accept that there is always someone who will know more. And realise that no matter how Junior you are, you can bring knowledge and experience to the table.

Dafydd Archard, Junior Software Developer

Working as part of a vibrant and exciting team, having only graduated six months ago, we can’t wait to see how Dafydd is doing after another six months.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Dafydd, always great to hear from one of our Alumni.

If you’d like to share your journey since graduating from Code Institute, get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.