Community Stories: Fiona’s Story


Below is an extract from Code Institute’s recent e-Book entitled, “Community: your key to career change success -Tips from students who have worn your shoes and from employers that want to hire you”. In this story, we read about Fiona. Fiona had a successful career in the pensions industry but knew she did not want to be doing this for the rest of her life. Here’s her story.

Fiona’s Story

After working in the pensions industry, Fiona returned to college part-time to do graphic design. She dreaded the module on web design because she’d have to learn basic HTML and CSS, which held no interest to her at all. As it turned out, it was this part of her degree she liked best, and the next step was the Code Institute diploma. It was a leap in the dark because she knew nothing about the industry where she wanted to forge her new career. This drove her to use all the community resources available to her – with great results, as she explains here.

“I wanted to go further in coding, but it took me a while to decide because the Code Institute is an investment. There are other courses out there, of course, but I liked CI because it had the career support I needed. When you’re changing from one career to another, you need that guidance. 

The mentoring was immensely helpful.

For each project, you get three sessions with the Mentor at sensible intervals. They’re invaluable because, first, you know you’re on track. Second, the Mentor will tell you if you’re doing too much and risk not getting it all done within the project timeframe or if you’re not hitting everything that’s on the brief. It’s not like they’re telling you what to do, but it’s guidance from someone with industry experience, and that’s especially indispensable for the first project.


I used Slack for two almost opposite reasons. If I got stuck on something, I would search Slack for the answer because, more often than not, someone before you has come up against the same problem. If I had time, I also liked to answer questions posed by other people about subjects I had done already. 

This is a great way of deepening your knowledge because explaining something clearly tests the limits of your understanding. I learned a lot from helping other people.

Careers Hub

I attended all the webinars but didn’t have the headspace to start doing my CV. I had worked at the same company for almost two decades, so I hadn’t done a CV in years. Same with LinkedIn.

I was working full-time for most of the course, but when I had the time, I attended the careers webinars, which are saved in the Careers Hub, so you can re-watch them anytime. I also regularly dialled into the Code Institute hiring partners talking about the industry and what they were looking for and sometimes actively recruiting. I also learned a lot from alumni talking about their experiences on the course and then out in the real world.

What I know about the industry is what came from Code Institute – from those webinars and from the careers fair Elevate. This is a mixture of talks by the Careers team and hiring partners. You can book a slot to talk to the recruiters and pick their brains about what the industry is looking for. All that knowledge would have been unavailable to me if I had not done the Code Institute course.

Imposter syndrome is a huge thing; there is a Slack channel dedicated to that. I don’t think I ever posted in that channel but even reading the testimonies of other people had a huge effect on me. ‘Okay, I’m not on my own. Everyone seems to be in the same boat.’


As I said, it took me a while to redo my CV. I worked through the CV webinar in my own time but also attended a master class on this before writing a draft CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn post. This is what I took with me into my one-to-one with Jade [McMeekin-Quinn].

I ended up with the first page of the CV focusing on tech, with my employment history further down – just the opposite of how I had done it! The CV flagged up my resolve to change careers, you could say, with that emphasis on my tech learning and profile.

It was Jade who put me in touch with Version 1, a large provider of digital services here in Dublin. On offer was a prestigious 18-month graduate traineeship, so the process was quite involved. I had a chat with a Version 1 recruiter. The next stage was psychometric testing, followed by a problem-solving session around reasoning and logic. After that, you had to submit a recorded personal statement which you could complete in your own time.

The last phase was an actual interview with the person from HR and then a technical person, and that was detailed, although there wasn’t an actual technical test. They did ask some technical questions, but they were more general, mostly about my projects.

I was confident because I had prepped this with Jane and the session with her was remarkably like the real thing.

I got in. It’s an amazing opportunity.

For the first three months, I’ll be learning and getting certifications for things like Java, which I haven’t done. Then at some point, you get put into a specialisation depending on where you’re going, and you will end up going on a particular team. What they do is build solutions for other companies, so the opportunities are varied.

Before I embarked on this journey, I knew very little about programming and nothing about the industry. And here I am at one of Ireland’s biggest tech companies!

I worked hard for this, and Code Institute supported me every step of the way. Without the course learning, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today; but the same is true for the community and the support around the course.

Read more community stories

Want to read more stories like this one from Fiona? Download our latest eBook and read more stories from the amazing Code Institute community. Remember, if you’re thinking of a career change to software development, these amazing people wore the same shoes as you. Download the eBook through the form below.

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