Graduate Stories: Daniel Ellis, Retail to Shopware

Code Institute has many graduates who have changed careers to software development. They’ve worked hard at learning their new skills and are now reaping the benefits of what software development can offer. In this graduate story, we spoke with Daniel Ellis. Daniel hails from the UK and has been based in Berlin for the last three years. Below is an extract from his interview. 

Where are you based? 

I’m from Winchester in the south of England, and I’ve been based in Berlin for the last three years. It’s a great city, it’s really good fun. I’m happy I moved here.

Before code institute, what did you do?

Before Code Institute, I’d worked a couple of jobs. When I finished my A-levels, I did a stint as an international volunteer. I ended up raising funds and then going over to India to do some charity work talking about vector-borne diseases and the importance of mosquito nets, that kind of stuff. 

I never went to uni, but after the charity work, I just applied for any job in my local area and ended up at Aldi. First, as a shelf stocker, and then through hard work, I got selected for a region-wide refurbishment mission as part of setting up the new stores and setting up the new layouts. Then after a few years, I was with Aldi for six years; I made it up to assistant manager with around 40 employees in my building.

Why did you decide to go for software development? 

I had an opportunity present itself to me with Aldi giving out sabbaticals to employees who’d been there for five years. So I jumped at it, and I moved to Berlin to live with my long-distance girlfriend. We’d been together for just over a year at that point. And then obviously there was the language barrier issue because I hadn’t pre-learned any german before moving here – which is fine in Berlin but if you need to get into the nitty-gritty of dealing with customers and all the rest of it then German’s preferable.

But luckily I had some savings to tide me over for a while, and I wasn’t really keen on going back into the retail industry, so I weighed up my options I was even looking at private pilot schools and how much debt that would put me in. It was definitely not the level of savings I had. Then yeah, I kind of looked into web development and software development in general and then that was it.

Why did you choose Code Institute?

Through my looking into different things, I went to the Code Institute open evening in Berlin. I think it was the tail end of 2018, and then I’d done the 5 Day Coding Challenge beforehand. It was an interesting evening because, on that evening, I won or through proxy, I won the raffle, and there was someone’s name called out before mine for the grand prize. I think it was a scooter which is kind of cool, and I won that and then yeah, I finally was enrolled by the end of February 2019, I think. 

Would you recommend doing the 5 Day Coding Challenge before the program? 

Yeah, I did do the 5-Day Coding Challenge before I attended the open evening. I would recommend to potential students not just to do that though but really get into the nitty-gritty of some of the documentation of the languages that Code Institute teaches as it can be quite dry, and you need to know what you’re getting yourself in for.

Did you have any struggles on your journey?

I certainly did. With the course being 100% online, and myself not coming from an academic background meant that in the beginning, I was not managing my time effectively enough. At the start, I would maybe doss around with an hour or so a day, and when I started the course, I gave myself a target of three months and then this is over. You know I wasn’t writing notes, I wasn’t reading the documentation, but you know, when it came time to do the projects, I just hadn’t had the opportunity to really intake it.

So I had to have a look inwards and be like, is this going to be manageable? And then, after a while and being on time off, I was in the library for six-seven hours a day, really making sure to get through all the documentation and making sure I knew what I was doing. 

Were there any high points for you on the course?

The final projects. The sense of achievement and being able to show others your work at the end of it. I started it at the end of September 2019, and I handed it in in November (2020). I also loved when I was explaining my code to others and what the data was doing and exactly what each function’s purpose is. 

What do you currently do right now?   

I’m working fully remote for Shopware as a front end developer. They’re an e-commerce company from a small village in the southwest of Germany. My most recent project was building an infotainment streaming platform (Shopware TV) like Netflix, which was super cool to build with Nuxt and Vue.

Was the course worth it?

Absolutely, but you need to be honest with yourself and really put the work in. It takes a lot of work. Long hours of practice, and going over repetitive dry documentation to get any experience to stay in your head. And I would still say I’m not any kind of master, but it’s a continuous learning process. 

Would you recommend Code Institute’s course?

I would recommend it to people who really do want to change a career if they’ve got the drive and the go to get it. 

Do you feel that the programme helped you professionally?    

Yes. A lot of my interviews immediately after the course were not so successful. But it definitely helped me get a foot in the door. I had to continue learning and increasing my knowledge after the course was over – so it’s not just html, css, and javascript. There’s Webpack. There’s everything else involved that is related to front-end development or other software areas as well. 

Keep practising and learning new things, and someone in the profession will see your work and then you’ll get hired.

Do you feel your software development experience will safeguard your future?

So long as society doesn’t collapse, I feel I have a job in this field for quite a while. And the way things have been for the last couple of years, and you know, moving more and more to remote work, it’s getting easier to get hired remotely so long as you can provide a proven track record of your work. Yeah, I don’t see this changing for a while.

More graduate stories

If you want to read some more stories from Code Institute graduates like this one from Valentina Bedi, then read Kira EstradaAdrian Rus, or Simen Daehlin’s stories in our recent career change whitepaper.

Free Coding Challenge

If you want to see what it’s like to code, we host a free coding challenge that will show you what it is like to use our world-class LMS. After one hour a day over five days, you will learn how to build your first webpage. Register now through the form below this article. 

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