Laura from Civica

Laura currently a Software Engineer in the Civica Digital Belfast office, working on a range of projects.
 
Hear Laura’s story about how she went from owning her own retail business to now working in the IT sector and what pathway she took:

That’s a bit of a long story!  My route into the tech industry was definitely not a traditional one.
 
I had been running my own retail business for just under 10 years when the economic downturn came.  Couple that with some political issues in the area my shop was in and I had to call in the administrators which resulted in a forced career break. During the break, I cared for my Mum who had MS until she passed away, that, and spent some quality time with my daughter who was 2 at the time.
 
I am not a person who ‘idles’ well so, even during as busy a time that it was, I tried to figure out what I wanted to do next.
 
My brother (and most of the rest of my extended family) work in the tech sector in some form or another, and the idea of building and creating software had always piqued my interest, so I decided to use my free time to study the basics of coding and building using free online resources. Those courses helped me to figure out that this was definitely a career path I wanted to try so I started looking for opportunities that would allow me to work in tech whist studying as I couldn’t afford to take time out to follow a full time degree pathway.
 
My research led me to an apprenticeship scheme run by Belfast Metropolitan College in collaboration with various tech companies in Belfast, after a couple of grueling rounds of aptitude tests I was invited to apply the participating companies. Given I wasn’t the stereotypical apprentice (I was mid 30’s at the time) I didn’t hold out much hope of success, but thankfully I was offered interviews for 2 of the companies, Civica being one of them.
 
Right from the outset, I was impressed with Civica, it was a warm welcome and a friendly interview process and they must have felt the same as I was offered the Apprenticeship post, and the rest is pretty much history!

Laura has spoken about how she used her free time to study and how this helped her to decided that IT was where her career was heading, so lets hear exactly what route Laura took to get into her current job role:
 

    • Where did you study

The apprenticeship started off with a 6 week boot camp at Belfast Met learning the basics of the Software Development Lifecycle, then for 18 months I worked 4 days a week and had classes one day a week at college.
 

    • Previous work experience / jobs

 
Ha! How long have we got!  I started working part time jobs when I was 15, everything from cloakroom attendant in a nightclub, to a pizza chef in a takeaway and an administrator within the health service, and whilst I don’t put all of that stuff on my CV, those jobs, coupled with travel and education shaped me into the person I am.  They allowed me the confidence and ability to have a go at running my own business in my mid 20’s, and whilst it ultimately failed, it wasn’t because I couldn’t do it, it came down to economics.
 
Every job I have had has led me to this point in my life, where I have finally found the career I want and a company that will invest in me to make sure I follow the path I want in the industry.

    • Additional training/qualifications

 
The apprenticeship included several Microsoft exams and Civica have been excellent when it comes to supporting my training needs.  They have funded my ITIL Foundation course, provide us with Pluralsight licences and are definitely open and approachable when it comes to requesting courses or experiences that you believe with help your learning and development.

If Laura’s story has inspired you to get into the IT sector it is never too late, see how your local College can help you make the first steps. For more information contact the Bring It On team via email: bringiton@belfastmet.ac.uk