Hi. I’m Nathalie.
I’m one of a small but growing contingent of women over the age of 40, who’ve made significant career changes to break into the UK tech industry. I secured my first developer role at the start of 2018, which was also my first ’employed’ position in 22 years, making me a firm advocate for women returners into tech.
With a strong background in graphics, I started my tech journey working as a freelance web designer from home, running a home business with my husband and raising my two boys. I took a self-directed learning path to begin building websites –
- Initially mastering HTML, CSS and responsive design together with php and WordPress to build bespoke websites for individuals and small businesses.
- I collaborated to bring in additional skills as part of the project management process as and when needed.
Inspired by the BBC Girls Can Code I formed food tech startup TreatOut in September 2015, and applied to the Google Campus for Mums Startup Programme.
The startup gained attention very early on, resulting in an invite to pitch at the Seeds&Chips food summit in Milan. A judge asked “Why is it, that if you can build websites, why are you not building the app?” Unable to answer why not, I decided to put myself through a full-stack coding bootcamp. I picked Le Wagon London and in summer 2016 was part of their first London cohort, batch #36. I became the technical co-founder on the team and this fuelled my ever-growing obsession with startups and web app development.
I spent the next six months building out an MVP.
- I used the Adobe Creative Suite and Sketch to wireframe, adding SASS & HAML to my toolbag. I created the brand guidelines and worked on a pattern library based on the principles of Atomic Design & the BEM methodology.
- I built a functioning MVP in Rails, working through features from ideation to deployment.
- I’m happy working in the terminal with Git and version control.
But I missed being at bootcamp, and decided that the only way to really step up to technical co-founder, was to go get a job as a developer. So I did.
I embraced the daily commute into London and a shiny new job as a full-stack developer at Skills Matter. This was my first (what recruiters would consider) commercial work in over 20 years.
- I started practising TDD writing RSpec tests, troubleshooting failing tests on CircleCI, before deployment to Heroku.
- I’ve helped build a CMS in React to consume API endpoints.
- I’ve thrived as part of an agile team.
It’s 2020 and I’ve entered my third year of working in tech. I’ve stepped away from working full-stack to focus on the Front End and I’m enjoying my new role as a Software Engineer for Zoopla.
The startup journey was not easy and I made the difficult decision to resign from TreatOut in May 2019. I still intend to continue with the project when I’m ready and have rebranded as myFeastOut.
I continue to blog about the difficult journey you take once you become a startup founder with a day job, who’s making the transition from a solo, self-taught coder to professional software engineer.
All views expressed are my own.