17 Feb 2022
Being from a nontraditional background in tech has more benefits than you think!
I have a background in economics and finance and before my transition, I was tailor made for a career in investment banking or consulting. I studied economics and then went on to complete my Master’s in International Finance at a Chinese university gaining an expert level understanding of exchange rates, especially between the West and West Africa.
Being from a non-traditional (non-trad) background before starting my first role in tech I often wondered whether I had wasted my time studying economics and finance for 5 years. Now I know that I haven’t. Studying was great for allowing me to realise what I like and what I love. I liked economics. A lot. But I love technology. In addition, my understanding of the financial system helps me understand what company needs are far quicker as a Software Engineer and helps me to see potential needs before they have arisen!
Life as a Junior Engineer means a lot of learning, but you’ll be well supported!
Starting as a Junior Engineer has been a humbling experience! Working with people who are not only clearly very smart, but also very experienced can be intimidating. I had just completed a 4 month bootcamp, and whilst I had a good foundational understanding of coding standards, how to solve certain issues and writing tests, my knowledge was minuscule in comparison to many of my peers.
My time at COT started with 2 weeks of working through a C# transition course. Following that we (the other two juniors and myself) went into working on our own mini project. This was eye opening and helpful as it helped to put what we’d learnt into real context. Speaking to senior developers and people who have been in the industry, it’s encouraging to know the discomfort I often feel is normal. In software development you learn something new everyday!
What is it like working at Capital on Tap?
Finding a job that you like can be really tough. Either you dislike the role you’re in or you dislike the company you are a part of - I feel very lucky to be part of a company where I love the role and company! Capital on Tap is a company that makes life easier for SMEs and seeing the positive effect of our work is great! We’ve recently expanded to the USA, and seeing the codebase expand to accommodate has been extremely interesting and is a valuable experience that can’t be bought!
The culture in the company is also great. COT hires a wide range of people from different backgrounds and as a Mandarin speaker it’s been great to speak to my Chinese colleagues. There are also lots of opportunities to hang out with people, be it through work football matches, quiz nights or company escape room days out!
What sort of things have I been working on?
For the past few months, I’ve been a member of our internal and urgent systems team. Our remit covers all our internal systems which are used by many stakeholders across the organisation, be it customer operations to compliance to our underwriting team!
A few of the features I’ve worked on have helped to improve our systems to allow our teams to be more efficient. Most of the features seem small but have a big impact! For example, two colleagues and I worked to improve a search bar within one of our systems to show a customer's primary account. This saved our operators time by seeing quickly which account to click.
In a separate project, I am currently working to help improve our deployment process (moving our code from our code base to the cloud) alongside two other developers.
While these examples seem small they require testing, UX alterations and excellent organisation. Working as part of a team on all of these projects is another example of the strong collaboration element of engineering that is often under recognised!
What does a typical day look like for you at Capital on Tap?
Work from Home?
If I’m working from home I tend to get out of bed around 8:00 and will start work around 8:30. As an early riser, I feel more productive in the morning and I like clearing my emails and messages before I start any code.
Next, I tend to look at the tickets that I’m working on. If they are complete then I'll look at potential upcoming tickets that I can pick up or that I would like to pair with someone else. My stand up is at 10:15 where as a team we have the chance to see where everyone’s at, make a plan for the day and see where we can help each other. Following this, I tend to work through to 12:30 at which point I’ll take my lunch and head to the gym for a quick 45-minute workout and aim to be back at my desk by around 14:00. In the afternoon I’ll carry on working through till around 18:00/18:30 at which point I quite literally shut my laptop down for the evening and chill out by going out for a meal with a friend or just catching up on shows that I like!
Working in the office?
I love getting up early, so if I’m going into the office, I aim to get out of bed around 6:45 and get the train into work and arrive around 08:15/08:30. I then tend to follow the same routine, where I go to the kitchen and make some breakfast (usually cereal but there are lots of snacks here!) and then head back to my desk and work through my emails and catch up on the news. By 09:00 I’m working on some code and at 10:15 join our morning stand up again. Then I tend to work through to around 13:00 where I then head to Boxpark with a few colleagues to grab lunch. I usually head back to my desk by 14:00 and will work through to 18:00-18:30 at which point I may join one of the after work socials (football, netball etc) or head home!