Graduate Story: Ryan

In 2021, Code Institute interviewed many of our students and graduates regarding their time on our Full Stack programme and their career change journey. One such interviewee was Ryan from Shropshire.

Tell us about yourself.

I am now a developer with Extra Mile Communications in Staffordshire, although I’m actually in Shropshire. I am a career changer. I’m somebody who, for the last ten years before I decided to change and move into software development, has been a teacher, and to be honest, it’s been an exciting journey. It’s been a slightly scary journey at times, but yeah, it’s been absolutely worth it in the long run.

Why did you choose to change your career?

I chose to change my career because, after about eight or nine years of teaching, I’d realised that I wasn’t entirely happy in the job I was in. It would already have been at a point where I was looking to change career, so it wasn’t an instant thing, you know. It took me a bit of time to work out what it was I wanted to do next. But as I say, it was very much. I just needed a change in my life, and I needed to move into something which would make me happy in a way that teaching wasn’t. 

Could you tell me what your fears about changing careers were?

Okay, my main fear with changing careers was that I just didn’t have the experience. I didn’t have the knowledge coming into anything else to be able to do anything but teach. I’d spent 10 years of my life teaching, and before then, I’d been at university. I hadn’t really got any experience doing anything but teaching, and I just felt that I’d be coming up to companies asking them to take a punt on me and having nothing to offer them. That’s, as I said, why it was a scary time when I did decide a career change was in order.

Approximately how long did you think about changing career before you actually did it?

Okay, so in truth, I’d been deciding for about a year or two before I actually took the plunge, if you will. But I suppose what really persuaded me was that I’d had a period of basically having been mentally quite unwell in my last year of teaching and that to me was a sign that, ‘you know what, I can’t just keep pushing through. This isn’t for me, it can’t be for me, I can’t keep being in this position.’ So you know I needed to make a change, and that was where it came from.

Was it difficult to actually make the change?

They are two different mental processes. I mean one was, I was stressed out by teaching to a point where I didn’t want to get up in the morning. That isn’t true about making a career change. To be honest, making a career change, it was exciting. I suppose the scary bit of it was not knowing that there was definitely a job at the end of it. I mean, thankfully, there was, but at the time, I didn’t know. I felt like I was leaping into the unknown, just with nothing behind me. was scary but not stressful in the same way as my previous job.

To be honest with you, the main difficulty I found changing careers was fitting in the training for coding around still having to work. I’m a man with a mortgage I can’t, unfortunately, just drop that and spend a good six to twelve months just career switching. So I had to try and balance the two together. That was probably the more difficult thing.

Did imposter syndrome click in at any stage? 

Definitely. To be honest, in a small way, it slipped in when I was doing some freelance working. You know, just creating small sites for a couple of local businesses. So in a small way, it was there but really where it kicked in the most was when I joined Extra Mile itself because suddenly not only was my work answerable to me, it was now answerable to a company and you know there was a sudden almost in that moment of like ‘oh my god I’m a teacher pretending to be a programmer, and I’ve pretended so well that somebody’s hired me at it.’ And it’s not easy to try and just put that down to the back of your mind and go ‘no no I was a teacher, and I’m now a programmer,’ as opposed to ‘I am a teacher pretending.’

But yeah, it definitely was there, and you know, thankfully the company I’m at is very understanding, and I think it’s got a few career changes, in its ranks already. So I’m not the first, and I doubt I’ll be the last who will come into a new career, new job, and feel a bit like ‘I might just be a fake here’, and no, no you’re not, they’ve hired you for a reason.

Why did you actually opt for software development? 

Over the ten years of me being a teacher, I’d always dabbled a little bit in coding. So it might be that for one school, I’d created a behaviour management bit of software behind the scenes that just meant that it was very very quick and easy for teachers to be able to log behaviour instances, where the current systems didn’t allow it too easily. 

My first job that I ever had was as a data transfer person. Basically, I was moving data from one table to another. I created a program that did it for me, which in some ways was great because, you know, I didn’t have to work quite so hard after I’d done that. In other ways, it was not so great because I didn’t have a job once I’d done that because it did it all for me. So as I said, there was definitely an interest there already, and it was just pursuing a natural interest, really.

More graduate stories

If you want to read some more stories from Code Institute graduates like this one from Liga, then read DanielKiraAdrian, or Simen’s stories in our recent career change whitepaper.

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