How Cornwall’s tech communities can help you switch career

If you’ve seen how much fun we have in the digital industries, switching to a tech career has probably crossed your mind. A baseline of skills is needed before you have a realistic chance of landing that junior role. You’ll be best placed to decide whether college, University or home study is the right way to gain those skills. Some people thrive in a structured university setting whilst others need to put family first, fitting learning time around family commitments.

Regardless of the route chosen, getting involved with the local community will undoubtedly help. People already doing the job you’re aiming for are the best ones to give advice. What’s the best framework to begin developing with? Is focusing on learning a single language deeply or trying a few the way to go? How do I set myself apart from all the other candidates?

Meetups and social events offer the perfect opportunity to ask these questions. Cornwall Geeks is a regular social evening on the last Thursday of the month, attended be freelancers and people working in the counties software companies. They’re super friendly, and anyone with geeky interests will always be welcome to pop in for a drink. In a similar vein, Kernow DAT is an event with a few speakers from the counties tech community. Its irregular schedule is made up for by the drinks and nibbles sponsored by local companies. Both are great places to meet the counties community and to get a broader range of ideas on routes to follow from people within the industry.

As soon as you have a few basic coding skills, helping the next generation is a great way to cement those skills. Code Clubs and the Cornwall Tech Jams are the perfect places to pass your knowledge on. Typically, the focus at these activities is on the logical thought process, rather than diving into a specific technology. Once a participant has an understanding of that thought process it becomes an exploration of technology. Mentors often learn just as much as the participants. They are a low barrier to entry volunteering opportunity and ones which can help build up your confidence at the same time as logging some STEM Ambassador activities.

If you’ve yet to take your first step into a coding career….. now’s the time. Whenever I meet a new participant (college age upwards) to our education program I typically recommend Codecademy as a starting point. It’s got a great range of free sessions to complete in the browser. It affords an opportunity to get a feel for what code technologies are a good fit for you. Personally, I’d recommend JavaScript and Python (although opinions will vary). After all, the cool kids’ code in JavaScript.

If you are just starting out and have something cool to share, let us know on social media. We’d love to see what you’ve been building. Make sure you add it to your GitHub profile and include it in your CV, which you can submit to our members.

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This post was written by Tony Edwards, who is part of Software Cornwall’s Education Outreach team. You can follow Tony on Twitter, Instagram, and his website plus catch him at events around the South West.