Coding Bootcamp to Software Testing.
Sharing Hive’s vision of using code to make a positive difference in the world, Nusrath joined us on the Make Things Better podcast.
- Nusrath Farheen
- 21 mins
Tom: Hello and welcome to Episode 25 of the Make Things Better podcast. Today I'm joined by software tester at Hive IT, Nusrath, welcome come on the show Nusrath.
How are you doing today?
Nusrath: Thank you, Tom. I'm doing well. Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to do my first ever podcast, so thank you.
Tom: Yeah. Thank you so much for joining me. Really glad to have you here. Do you want to start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and how and when you started to think about getting into the tech industry?
Nusrath: Well, after doing a degree in microbiology and being busy with family life, I never had a chance to go into a full time job. I was working as a part time art teacher for a while and then back in August 2020, I saw a program on BBC News where they were talking about a coding bootcamp for women. And one thing that stood out for me during that interview was, one of the women was saying anyone can code, anyone from any educational background, can get trained to become a software developer.
That was mind blowing. I wanted to find out how and that's where I started thinking to get into the tech industry. Also during that interview they were talking about the skills gap and the gender gap in the tech industry and there were reports of how little representation there is of women, often from ethnic minorities and generally in developer roles, there were very few of them.
Yeah. So that's where I got interested.
Tom: Yeah. So do you think for you the lack of ethnic minorities and the lack of women in the tech industry, is that something that sort of attracted you to the industry in a way?
Nusrath: Yes, because I know a lot of women who have got various degrees. They are very talented and if anyone can do coding, why can't them?
So that was my first step to find out if anyone can really do coding. So I wanted to do something about it by first trying it out and it was hard to believe really, to believe that anyone, from any background, any field of education can do coding.
Tom: In a sense, did you kind of want to find out whether what you were being told by like this, like BBC News, whatever it was that you'd you'd seen, in a way were you quite like intrigued to test it out?
Nusrath: Yes, I wanted to sign up for it and I applied for it, but it was for a specific region. It was for women in Birmingham. So I dropped that idea that time and started browsing for opportunities in Sheffield for a similar bootcamp.
Tom: Yeah. And what made you choose doing a boot camp in particular rather than learning online for yourself, perhaps?
Nusrath: To be honest, the first approach was to try it out and during the lockdown there was a lot of time on hand and I was generally searching for online enrichment courses for my daughters and their friends related to certain subjects. And while doing so, I came across this code club program by Raspberry Pi Foundation. I trained myself to do a bit of block based coding and started a code club online.
And after doing this, I got more and more interested in different concepts and started watching videos on YouTube and signing up for courses on future learn to do basic Python and here and there it was, I took up a course but couldn't really progress because I was not sure of how to progress in the field.
Tom: Did the coding bootcamp perhaps provide more of a structured approach? Is that maybe what you were looking for?
Nusrath: Yes, that was the idea I was getting from all my research online and there was a lot of information on Sheffield digital's website at that time where they were explaining about how to teach yourself to code on different websites through self led activities.
And there was an advert regarding this coding bootcamp by the Sheffield City Council and The Developer Academy in Sheffield were delivering it and I applied for it and soon I was on board.
Tom: Yeah. And am I right in thinking you watched or listened to me and Ben Atha's chat from The Developer Academy as well?
Nusrath: Yes. While doing my research and asking those early questions, there were a few podcasts that helped me a lot really. Even during my coding, there were a few podcasts that you did regarding accessibility and data science, I found them quite helpfu really. Yeah.
Tom: Yeah. Thanks for listening to those. Really appreciate that. I loved hearing about the fact you'd listened to them because that's the whole point of them really so it was nice to hear that they actually had had an impact and helped someone learn a bit more about something. So once you signed up for the bootcamp and had got started with that, how did you find it?
Nusrath: Well, the bootcamp was challenging, yet full of excitement. It was the most fabulous 12 weeks we had. It was fully remote from 9am till 4:30pm and we were taught both frontend development and backend development, doing various projects each week and doing presentations. We ended up with a full stack Mern app. Mern is is MongoDB, Express, React and Node.js app.
We learned to work in teams. We did pair programing, remote collaboration, learned about GitHub, but I learned to code in a scarily short space of time I would say. There was a lot to cover in those 12 weeks and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.
Tom: Yeah, it seems like such a short period of time to learn so much. Did you find it quite hard? Was it quite intense to learn so much in such a short timeframe?
So you wanted to create something amazing and there is a lot of examples online. You feel lost in the amount of resources and the knowledge that's available online. You get confused what applies to your specific code. And in the beginning that was quite tricky. But as we went on towards the third or fourth week, I learned how to filter out things and manage my expectations and also problem solve in a different way.
Look for solutions on StackOverflow rather than trying to spend hours fixing that one line of code.
Tom: Yeah, sure. So you learned to kind of find the solutions to problems that already existed. That information already existed somewhere on the Internet. And perhaps that saved you quite a bit of time. But you mentioned there how throughout the bootcamp, you kind of learned how to filter out some of the noise in a way, because it sounds like there is just like a vast amount of information and knowledge and examples and tutorials out there on the Internet.
Do you have any advice on how to do that for someone who is getting into coding and they're a bit a bit lost in a sea of information?
Nusrath: How I worked it out is I paid great attention to the vocabulary. It might sound slightly odd to you, but every time I heard a new word, which you would do tens and thousands of words every week because it's all new vocabulary related to each of the language, or tech stack that we were learning.
Nusrath: I would note down all of that and do a bit of research, try to understand what exactly my project brief is asking me to do, and I would break it down into smaller steps and smaller manageable tasks rather than looking at the whole project.
And that really helped me a lot. And I was able to present projects at the end of every week and there was a lot of encouragement from the tutors and a lot of constructive feedback to me and my projects became better and better towards the end of the course.
In order to filter out I would say pay attention to what applies to your work rather than just typing a generalized word on Google and it's going to confuse you even more.
Tom: Yeah, that's really good advice. Yeah that makes sense. So just kind of narrowing down your search and getting quite specific, but then also learning more about certain words you really do need to learn for the particular projects.
So that that helped me a lot. I asked the right questions at the right time. That saved me a lot of time and effort in figuring out what is it that I need to do.
Tom: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And then once you completed the bootcamp then how hard was it to find a job in the tech industry?
Nusrath: I don't think it was very difficult for me because we were provided a lot of support to attend career sessions, perfect our CV, create a portfolio, an online portfolio with all of the projects that you did during the bootcamp, there was something specific I was looking for.
First of all, during the early weeks and days of my course, I was asking the tutors, what kind of job role would I get at the end of this course?
Because it's a new industry. What are the rules called? What do you look for? What roles would suit me after the bootcamp and what should I be looking for? And I would generally go and browse those roles and read blogs about the entry roles, junior roles, tester roles, internships, apprenticeships and things like that. That helped me a lot to narrow down what is potentially going to be my role after the bootcamp.
So, soon after we finished, we were making a lot of applications on various different platforms like LinkedIn, Reed and various other places for these entry roles and I wanted to work fully remotely so that made it like a niche.
After the Covid that became a normal thing. And there were many, many roles emerging with industries wanting people to work from home.
Nusrath: Yeah. So I think I got an opportunity because of that.
Tom: Yeah. So it sounds like during the bootcamp you were already sort of considering the role that you were going to have next, which must have been quite exciting in a way. And do you think that there was anything other than working remotely, which I know you obviously wanted to do, but was there anything over then that which led to you wanting to work for Hive in particular, obviously we're very lucky that you did choose us.
Nusrath: Yes. What happened is when I was applying, where there were automated applications and where there were recruiters involved, there must have been a checkbox which asked for experience. And I did not have any and my CV wasn't going through to. There were many applications which never got a response. So I changed my strategy for applying and I applied directly to companies.
And when I applied directly, I researched all those companies. There was an advert for Hive IT on Sheffield Digital and it was for a junior tester role. And I went to the website just to see what kind of company it is and where is it based. And I was so impressed to see that the first thing that stood out for me was coding can be done to make the world a better place.
And there were quite a few projects which were, I was very impressed looking at some of the projects I applied straight away and got a reply very quickly and an interview was set up soon. And here I am working at Hive IT.
Tom: Yeah it's awesome that that happened. And I think that is probably one of the main sort of attractions I suppose is that we do some projects which are quite nice, you know, working with local charities and so on. And that's kind of on the website because I guess the goal is to use technology to make a positive difference to our world.
I sort of know that of by heart as our kind of marketing guy, but yeah, anyway, so talking about sort of making the world a better place, what do you think could be done to encourage more women into the tech industry?
Nurath: Well, I think, first of all, women who have succeeded in getting into the tech industry or are doing well in the tech industry, they need to start sharing their experience and all those solutions that they've found for all the problems that they face while entering the industry.
So sharing the knowledge is something that would benefit others. And another thing would be to encourage women to just to have a go to try to attend those taster sessions, those workshops, and also to sign up to those bootcamps.
There are lots of them popping up all around the country. There's a list of them on the gov.uk website. All they need to do is try try to get into one of them and see what happens.
Tom: Yeah. And I guess you're kind of setting the example already as someone who's got into the tech industry and obviously you were saying to me earlier, like, one of the reasons was to inspire your children as well. Is that right?
Nusrath: Yeah, I've got three girls and I want to inspire them. And also all of those live at home mums who have got degrees, they're so talented and who want to do something different and they want to have a good working life balance with caring for small children is not an easy thing.
So this industry provides flexibility. You have a choice to work remotely or maybe hybrid.
A way of working may work out for you, so I would encourage them to give it a go and a step up into the industry and help in shrinking that gender gap that we have in tech roles. So a few other things people can do is to sign up for some voluntary work, maybe through STEM Ambassador program or through a code club and things like that just to get started.
Tom: Yeah Nusrath, so you've been a brilliant guest. Thank you so much for coming on. Very inspiring. My final question for you is, what can people do to make things better?
Nusrath: Well, people can share their knowledge to help others and coders can code to make the world a better place.
Tom: Yeah. It's a brilliant answer. Yeah. I think that's kind of what our mission, our aim is at Hive really is to use code and also a few other things. But yeah, use that to make the world a better place. So it's great to hear that, you've been a brilliant guest. Thank you so much for coming on. Really appreciate your time.
I appreciate you've got the school run now so you better get off and pick your kids up. So yeah, thanks a lot for watching or listening or reading and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day.
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