Why I changed fields and became a software engineer

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Amsterdam) has a 1-year Software Engineering course called “Make IT Work”. I’m finishing up the final stages of that course right now – mostly waiting for some final grades and a nice certificate. I’ve also been working as a developer at Randstad Group for about 6 months, and I’m enjoying the job.

This has been a major change for me: I originally earned an MSc in Science Communication. So why have I changed fields and become a software engineer?

One reason is that it’s hard to make a living as a science communicator. Finding open positions was a challenge: there are temporary projects in my field, or jobs as a teaching assistant, but little else. Well, there are jobs as a high school teacher – but I’d prefer to reach a wider public, so I specifically decided not to train for that.

I heard about Make IT Work while I was grappling with this problem. It’s a tough course to join: there are online intelligence & personality tests, and then you must convince an associated business to hire you after the first half of the course. I’m extremely grateful to iSense, an IT-focused employment agency, for recognising my potential and making it possible for me to become a software engineer.

IT has been an interest for me since childhood, so the course seemed like a great chance to turn a hobby not just into a job, but into a career. I started the course feeling dedicated and focused, which turned out to be a necessity. The course covers a lot of material quickly, so my classmates and I learned a lot in little time. The more code I wrote and the more I learned about the wider world of software engineering, the more excited I got. Some of the most exciting parts were the agile way of working, working with stakeholders to find out what they really need, and finding a technical solution to complex problems. I achieved a lot on the programme: my average test score is 93% and I passed an examination for which I received the PeopleCert “Quality Software Developer Foundation Certificate in Maintainability”.

Now that the programme is over and I’ve got some working experience, I realize that there’s still much more to learn. I plan to keep working on my personal development, and have already started to prepare for the OCA Java SE 8 Programmer examination. Furthermore, I’m working on gaining a better understanding of the business (the reasoning behind every user story) at my job.

And of course, I’ll make sure to read about the progress and discoveries in the science fields I’ve left behind. I won’t be writing books about it, but I’ll do my best to explain these things to anyone who asks.

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