At the start of last year, I was a solicitor working in construction and engineering law, a job I had been doing for nearly seven years. I am now a few weeks into a new role and a whole new industry - a Junior Web Developer at Conscious Solutions. This was a career move I definitely did not anticipate when I decided to take a break from the law in January last year.
Whilst it’s still early days in my new role, I’m excited that I now get to spend my working days doing something that I’ve been trying to squeeze into my spare time for the last 18 months, and to do it in an environment where I can still put my years of legal experience to good use. I just wish my friends and family would get better at hiding their surprise when I tell them what I’m up to…
Why I made the switch - sorry law, it’s not personal
A lot of people have asked me why I wanted to move from law to web development. I wish I had a clear moment of inspiration I could point to, but the process was a fairly organic one for me. I decided to take a career break at the start of 2020 to spend some time with my daughter, but the goalposts moved fairly drastically when England went into its first lockdown, and nurseries closed, a mere few weeks later. After accepting that I wouldn’t be rushing back to work, I felt I needed a lockdown project. Like many other people in the UK at the time, I started with banana bread, moved on to sourdough, before ultimately deciding to have a go at web development. Many YouTube tutorials and a part-time course in software development later, here I am!
The things that drew me into coding are probably the same things that drew me into law many years ago. I love the combination of creativity, logic and problem solving (and it’s nice that the answer isn’t ‘it depends’ quite as often as it is in law). I also love that I am just scraping the surface in terms of what I could learn.
Thinking about taking the plunge?
The decision to step away from my previous career didn’t come easily to me but was in a way made easier by me separating my decision to leave my last job and my decision as to what to do next. But if that’s not an option, the great thing about learning to code is that it really can be done in your spare time alongside another job or commitment. You can have a go and see whether you still enjoy it once you’re knee-deep in bugs, without having to give up an existing job first!
It is also very accessible - there are so many resources available online for free for people starting out in web development. I made use of those for about a year before ultimately deciding to sign up for a part-time software development course. I appreciated the structure and regularity of a course, but I don’t think that’s the only way to do it.
Finding the right role
Having gone through this process, the big doubt I still had was whether I would be able to find a job with so many good developers out there. Luckily for me, Conscious look for potential and what you can be taught, not what you know now. And while it’s early days, I’m not looking back yet!