Live and Breathe Code
Finn Francis: Case Study
Finn had no experience in the tech industry and very little coding experience before he found We Got Coders.
After leaving college, Finn spent 4 years working as a session guitarist with a pop group, travelling around the UK, America and Europe. When that career path did not work out, he returned home and fell into general labouring jobs to pay the bills. However, Finn knew he wanted more out of his career.
During Finn’s time in the band he was always really interested in the part social media had to play in the music industry. He was fascinated by how quickly music was heard and shared, especially the influential role technology had played.
Like many others, Finn decided to do some online tutorials, learning the basics of coding and he immediately enjoyed it. Having a very logical mind and having spent many hours of his youth building binary computers in Minecraft, he had some understanding of the basics of code.
When Finn signed up for the WGC Immersive Bootcamp course he was understandably nervous about whether he could cope with a coding job as he had spent most of working life outdoors, not sitting at a desk on a computer.
Finn tells us, "However after the first day it became clear it was the correct decision. I was in one of the larger cohorts (8 people), and we all got on very well. Living onsite was a major benefit (it was one of the deciding factors that made me pick WGC over other courses), and really helped us all immerse ourselves in the course material. The pacing of the course is really good. I was always challenged, but very rarely felt like I was too out of my depth. And when I was really stuck there would always be other students or a instructor close at hand to help me out.”
Finn worked hard in the house and dedicated himself to his coding, making the most of every hour and all the support readily available to him. As is the WGC way, there were a group of potential employers there to witness final presentations and meet the students, who were looking for new career opportunities. Upon delivering his final presentation, Finn was talented enough to receive a job that day.
Finn started in a remote position with a small start-up in London, working on an HR orientated SAAS app build using sinatra, mongodb and backbone.js. Finn described this experience - “Moving from the learning environment to a professional one was probably one of the biggest hurdles of my coding career so far. I was used to working on small projects that I'd built myself, then suddenly I was thrown into a much larger project, with new technologies that I'd never used before, and thousands of lines of code written by other people. Thanks to the mentorship scheme I got over it fairly quickly though. Dan was there to get me through any difficulty spots, and I had regular Skype calls with one of the other developers who lived in Germany.”
Breathe HR is an established company, making millions of pounds a year with a customer base of well over 100,000. Finn works in a team with around 6 other developers, and has been fortunate to be able to continue learning whilst building large scale applications.
Finn even designed his own open source projects. A co-worker and Finn are big fans of a design pattern in Ruby called the Presenter Pattern, which provides an intermediary presentation layer to your standard MVC application, sitting between the controllers and the views. They decided to build a Ruby gem so they didn't have to write the same presenter code in every new app they built. Since it's release it's had nearly 550 downloads, and is now part of their standard gemset. Finn said, “Writing this gem is some of the most fun I've had in my coding career so far. So I'm now in the process of writing another (much bigger) one, which I'm hoping to collaborate with a lot more people on.”
Finn has some advice for aspiring developers: “Firstly go and do some of the courses on CodeAcademy. That's always a good start, and if you don't like it then coding is definitely not for you. The biggest hurdle I had to deal with was not knowing if I was clever enough to make it. But really you don't need to be clever to be a developer. It's not an elitist career and there are plenty of people (myself included) with poor academic records and no qualifications that do really well. The best thing you can do is throw yourself into it and put lots of effort in and I believe anyone can learn to code at a decent level. I came from a farming background and didn't have internet until I was 16, so if I can do it anyone can!"
Finn gives us his view on the benefits of job placement at WGC: “One of the other deciding factors in choosing WGC was the job placement scheme. This was such a useful part of the course because it's very hard to get an interview for a position when your CV shows 3 months of learning experience and nothing else. Dan has got a reputation for delivering highly skilled new developers into jobs, so there is often a good selection of companies attending the final presentations. It means they get to see your work and get to know you, which obviously massively increases your chances of getting hired by them. The other big advantage of the job placements is the mentoring. For my first 3 months of work I had Dan on hand to offer guidance when I really needed it, so I wasn't just thrown into the deep end and left to fend for myself.”