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Work from home – My Time is Now

Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Zac Allen, a Code Institute-trained developer. We caught up with Zac during June 2020 as Ireland was still on lockdown. He talks about his work from home, his love for Cork, and how he found the Code Institute programme. 

Tell us who you are and where are you from? 

Hi, I’m Zac Allen, and I live in Ballinhassig in County Cork. 

What do you like about living where you live? 

I love living in Cork because it is really nice and compact. In the city, there’s a really nice vibe, and everything is close by. But if you get in the car and drive for half an hour, you have some really nice coastal scenery as well. So, it’s like an all-in-one package. 

Now that you are a software developer, is it a good thing that you didn’t have to move closer to the city centre to work? 

Yeah. Being a software developer means that I can live anywhere I want to. So, I don’t have to get up at 6.30 in the morning and join the 9 am traffic going into the city. I can just get up and walk into the study, and that’s my office. That’s where I work for the day. So it definitely saves a lot of time, and a lot of money on travel expenses as well. 

What did you do before the programme? 

Before Code Institute, I was a Navigation Officer in the Merchant Navy. So, I worked on oil and gas carriers all around the world for an American company. I was based in Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and Asia. I worked there for about five years. 

Did you have any coding experience?

Before starting with Code Institute, I had absolutely no experience in programming or coding. I was a complete newbie. I only ever used my laptop for watching videos! 

Why did you choose to become a software developer? 

I think I chose to become a software developer because it allowed me to take the logic side of things and the creativity side of things and put them together. It appealed to me as well because of the remote working. So, I wanted to be able to work from home when I needed to, and I didn’t want to go away and spend five months away and then come back. So it kind of gave me everything in one. 

Why did you choose Code Institute? 

I chose the Code Institute based off all the testimonials. I went to an open night as well in Cork while I was doing the 5-Day Coding Challenge. There was a student there who had just graduated. He kept on talking about all the support levels that you have from the tutors and the Slack community. I was really, really impressed by all of that. It seemed to be a really efficient way to get from where I was to where I wanted to be – which was a qualified full-stack developer. 

How did you find the 5 Day Coding Challenge? 

The challenge was really good. It was a really nice introduction into what you would be doing, especially early on in the course. I went in with absolutely zero knowledge of CSS, HTML or JavaScript. At the end of 5 days, you have a little responsive website, and it was really nice to see a week’s worth of work at the very end. It certainly made me even more interested in pursuing software development. 

Did you find the course to be difficult? 

The course was challenging, it wasn’t difficult. There were parts in it where you needed to reach out to the Slack community, or to the tutor support. I think one of the best things about it was that a lot of people had already been in your position and a lot of people had difficulty in similar areas. Like when from CSS and HTML into JavaScript, it’s a completely different language. Stuff like that was hard, but when you have the support of Code Institute, it made it a lot easier. The tutors don’t tell you what you’ve done wrong, they point you in the right direction, and when you figure it out by yourself, it’s another little win at the end of the day, which is really important. 

Work from home – Do you think a learning experience like this is good for prepping for it? 

Yeah, I mean, learning remotely with Code Institute was really beneficial. It was actually something that came up in my interview for my job. It was about how I would cope with working remotely. And because I had all those months experience of learning remotely with the Code Institute, I was able to prove that I could work from home, by myself. I could get through the work, and I had the discipline to go and do that. 

Did you use the career function in Code Institute? Were they helpful?

The careers team in the Code Institute were fantastic. When I first started applying for jobs, I put up on Slack that I was looking for a bit of advice, and Jane Gormley reached out to me. She was so helpful and prepped me for interviews. Jane told me what kind of questions might be coming up. She walked me through the different stages and purely because of the careers section in Code Institute, the career support, I was able to secure my first job as a developer. 

What do you do now? 

I am now a software developer for Crua Outdoors. Crua Outdoors is based in Tralee in Kerry.

How are you finding the remote work? 

I work in Tralee once a week, and from home four times a week – depending on the need, but it is mostly remote work. Being able to work remotely, especially during COVID-19, is really important. You know, with the company based in Kerry, and me being based in Cork. Having the flexibility to work from home is really important. It saves me having to travel there every day. I still go there maybe once or twice a week (outside of national emergencies!). It’s a very important function of the job, being able to work remotely. 

I don’t think I would have like to have moved to a city to work. I really like living out towards the countryside. There’s beautiful scenery, and it’s beautiful to walk around. The city is just down the road if I ever need to go there. It’s only 20/25 minutes away. So, I kind of have the best of both worlds. I would 100% prefer to live outside the city like I’m doing now. On top of that, it is a money-saver, being able to work remotely and live remotely.

Has the programme helped to open more opportunities for you? 

Absolutely, yeah. Since doing the course, there is a whole lot of opportunities in Cork and Kerry, and to work remotely. It’s given me a lot more work opportunities. I’m looking forward to the next few years and seeing what happens. 

Would you recommend the programme? 

I would 100% recommend the Code Institute programme. If you’re looking to restart your career or move to a different one, or even just upskill, it’s a really good way to do it. The support is fantastic. The career prospects are really good. And it’s really enjoyable as well, you learn a lot of new skills, and you really get to develop your logical side and your creativity as well. 

The 5 Day Coding Challenge

Want to sample what it’s like to be a software developer? Try our free 5 Day Coding Challenge. Over five days, it will teach you the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Register now through the form below.