Case study

Web developer — Chloe Donegan

Chloe taught herself to code before signing up for a developer boot camp and launching her new career in web development

How did you get your job?

Following my degree in philosophy, I started my career at Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf where I worked as an equity analyst. Towards the end of the graduate scheme I decided I wanted to go and explore the world of start-ups. I spent the next two years helping early stage companies to get off the ground as part of the Accelerator programme at Entrepreneur First.

That was the first time I had ever interacted with developers. I was fascinated by their ability to build things overnight and frustrated that I wasn't able to make my own ideas a reality.

I began to teach myself to code in the evenings. Doing CodeFirst:Girls really accelerated my learning and I went on to commit myself fully to this new career path by signing up to do a three-month developer boot camp with Makers Academy.

I now work as a developer at Lyst, a fashion technology company.

Technologies develop very quickly so if you want to stay relevant you need to always be learning on the side

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Philosophy teaches you to be logical and that is an essential part of my day-to-day job, but really there isn't much of a link between my degree and my current profession.

What are your main work activities?

We start each morning with a 'stand-up'. This is an agile practice where the team each says what they worked on the day before and what they intend to do today. The discomfort of standing for long periods is intended to keep the meetings short.

I then go off to work on my current ticket. 'Enable the user to sign up to a newsletter on the home page' or 'enable the user to receive an email when the item they have been looking for comes back in stock' are typical examples. Once I'm ready, I submit my ticket for peer review via GitHub. I need to have two colleagues approve my code before I am able to deploy my change.

While I am waiting I may review someone else's code, read up on a technology or go and pair program with a colleague. At Lyst we work in cross functional teams. My day also involves discussions with my team's product manager and designer about the potential upside and technical feasibility of ideas.

There are a lot of extracurricular activities going on in the office so I can attend yoga or meditation sessions at lunch time, a boot camp workout before work or netball, football or rock climbing training in the evenings.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

My first ambition is to work hard at Lyst and learn as much as possible from the experienced developers there.

I would then like to use my business understanding and technical knowledge to solve problems in areas that have so far been overlooked.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I find my job fun. I enjoy thinking creatively about how to solve problems every day and I love that I am always learning. I find it hugely satisfying to have something appear in front of me as I work. Intellectually it's interesting to see how our users interact with a change once it has been released and then spend time thinking about how we might be able to iterate and improve things further.

There is an amazing culture of generosity in tech. People are committed to making it the best that it can be. You can see manifestations of this in the open source movement, on Stack Overflow and by looking at the plethora of meet-up events that are going on every night of the week.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Technologies develop very quickly so if you want to stay relevant you need to always be learning on the side. Brain ache is an occupational hazard. At work, whenever you make any change to the code base it's imperative that you think hard about what else could be affected. The last thing you want is for the site to break when your deploy goes live.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

My advice is to 'start making' right away. Coding is a craft. Like horse riding, playing an instrument or painting, the longer you do it for, the better you will become. There is a wealth of free resources available online so this path is open to anyone with enough determination.

In my experience, the most effective way to learn is to think of something that you want to exist in the world, then go and make it a reality.

Find out more