11 February 2018
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Name: Jacquie Steele
Job Title: Junior Software Developer at Evoke
Location: Liverpool
Social handle: @HolaJacquie / @Evoke_Creative

What’s the story of ‘you’?

My childhood was filled with adventure. Ever read the Jacqueline Wilson book, The Suitcase Kid? Well, my life sort of resembled Andy West. I was privileged enough to explore some fascinating places in Europe and the Middle East. After exploring I decided to go to university to study Events Management, which has led me into a different but very interesting career path. I moved to Liverpool 18 months ago, and I haven’t looked back since, even though it’s a small city it has so much to offer.  My hobbies include travelling, yoga and knitting, you can quite often find me exploring parts of the UK.

What is that you do now?

Junior Software Developer

Tell us about your day-to-day...

It’s such a cliché but no two days are ever the same at Evoke! The Software team consists of passionate, talented individuals who work on a variety of exciting projects. One thing we do religiously is starting the day with a stand-up, to catch up on what we’re up to and prepare for the day ahead. I love that I’m able to get involved with all aspects of Software Development, from the wireframing and UX to looking under the hood and building applications.

My favourite part of the week is the Dev Workshop, which runs every Wednesday. I’m always eager to learn as much as possible, and this is a great opportunity for us to discuss new libraries, future projects, and for us to share our knowledge on both front and back-end technologies.

What skills are essential for your role?

If you look at any job spec for a Junior Developer it’ll tell you that you need HTML, CSS and JavaScript knowledge, these are some key skills which will help you get into a Junior role.

I’ve learned that it’s important to nail the fundamentals and to understand how programming languages work. I’ve found that connecting with other Developers and finding a mentor has helped, most are happy to help and pass on their knowledge.

Did you always want to be what you’re doing now or was there something before this?

When graduating university, I wanted to get into Events Management, I found it to be quite difficult to get into the industry and after speaking to individuals within the industry, and volunteering I soon found that career wasn’t the right fit for me. As I’d studied a lot about Marketing during my time at university, I decided to apply for graduate programs.

Before graduating from university, I worked in my brother’s bakery looking after the social media and marketing, to get some experience under my belt. After the bakery closed down, I got into a graduate program with a large tableware manufacturing company in Stoke-on-Trent where I learned a lot about design and the commercial aspect of a business. I decided I wanted to learn more about marketing so I worked for a Students’ Union, as their Marketing Assistant, I learnt a lot about email marketing, event management and social media marketing. This is where I found I had a passion for building websites, I would look under the hood of webpages and explore how they were built, improving the layout and testing the designs.

After a year I decided to move into a CRM role, where I got to know about how important data is to companies, improving customer conversions and increasing sales. I worked in a CRM role for three years, and found that I enjoyed the technical side of the role, to which I decided to pursue a different path into Software Development, and here I am today, chasing my dream of becoming a Full Stack Developer!

How did you get your foot in the door?

I started out by building a basic bare HTML page for a BBC news article, to get to understand the syntax, structure and making sure the code was accurately written. Once I understood what each tag did, I moved onto building my own CV website, and websites for friends using CSS and basic JavaScript. One thing I found that helped was that in previous roles I had tinkered around with email HTML, and taught myself how to build emails by pulling apart existing templates, improving the structure and making them responsive.

Over the course of 6 months I taught myself using Pluralsight, Udemy and Codecademy, I found the #100DaysOfCode challenge on Twitter and started to invest an hour of my day to learn to code. I’ll be starting my second round soon, and focusing on an area relevant to my role.

I asked for help, and my mentor took time to teach me, as well as answer all of my questions. One thing I have learnt is not to be afraid to ask questions, I’m always curious! Finding someone who is just as excited about coding as me helped me to pick up languages quickly, we regularly take part in ‘code-offs’, which is a great way for me to learn to write code accurately under pressure. Taking part in the #100DaysOfCode challenge and discovering new languages, libraries and getting to know developers around the world.

Biggest lesson you've learned along the way - what is it?

Never ever give up, or lose faith in yourself. Now, this is easier said than done, I’ve nearly given up several times. Perseverance pays off if you’re passionate about something it’ll come through in your work, and people will notice!

Secondly, always be curious, I ask so many questions (maybe too many) being curious helps to open more doors, and you may be surprised with what you’ll find.

Has there been anything that has surprised you about the industry?

Unfortunately, the biggest surprise I have found is that a small number of male developers think it’s ok to tell you that ‘girl’ developers don’t deserve to work in tech, or that “girls can’t code”, and in all honestly as upsetting as this is, their words only push me (and other girl coders) to code like a girl! Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do something, if you really want something, you’ll make it happen!

On the flipside, I have found the majority of developers are happy to help, whenever, wherever and however they can help. I have connections across the globe and it really does feel like a little community. Tech is growing, and it’s important for the code community to work together to help the next generation of developers.

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

Don’t ever stop being YOU, work hard, and then work even harder. Network even if you feel it’s out of your comfort zone, I have made so many connections through networking, Liverpool and Manchester have some great networking events. Reach out to companies and see what they have to offer, go for a coffee with CEOs, Technical Leads or Senior Developers. You’ll learn about companies, roles, processes and what they’re looking for in candidates.

Where can people find you?

If anybody is interested in becoming a Software Developer, I’d be more than happy to help them get started! You can find me on Twitter, @HolaJacquie, so please come and say hello!

Article by
Robyn Dooley
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