Yesterday I gave a talk at a local school around going into software development, specifically from a science background. It was a great experience, and I hope to have the opportunity to do it again!
In between the students asking me repeatedly about my salary, I focused mainly on the fact that there are a lot of routes into the tech industry. The students I was speaking to were GCSE age, so just about to pick their A-levels and progress onto the next part of their education. I think it’s great that schools are now offering more computing and programming based A-level (and GCSE) options, but I wanted to emphasise the fact that this isn’t the only option for pursuing a career in software engineering.
I have done a couple of events as a STEM ambassador over the past month, and the message that I keep repeating, is that the logical problem solving which is crucial to all science-based learning is really the single most important tool you need when going into the software industry. That, though obviously the programming patterns and languages are something that you will need to learn, the building up of complex solutions from small logical steps is the fundamental idea behind coding as a whole.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many people here at endjin, and in the industry as a whole, who have a background in computer science and know a lot more about how a computer works than I do (something which at some point I might make some progress towards remedying…). But I wholeheartedly believe that my scientific, experimentation-based background has also set me up very well for a career in this industry.
I guess, crucially, my point is that there isn’t just one route into technology. And for students at 15/16 who may have no idea what they want to do later in life (I know I didn’t!), the idea that you need to go down a computer science route from the offset may discourage a lot of young people from seeing a career in software development as a possibility.
Anyway, that’s my two-pennies. Here’s a picture of me awkwardly smiling in front of a group of 30 teenagers.