How I Retrained As A Junior Developer While Working At Solid State Group

4 Min Read

Matt initially joined us as a project manager, but realised his true vocation lay in building technology, not managing trello boards. So he retrained as a developer while working with us at Solid State Group. Here’s why he decided to change careers, his advice for other aspiring developers, and how SSG supported his transition.

How did you end up at Solid State Group?

I studied Mathematics at the University of Southampton and my first role was a technical project management job in Reading. For my next move, I wanted to be in London so I was hired by Solid State Group and continued in a project management role.

When and why did you know you wanted to be a developer?

I’ve always been more interested in the technical side of things and I liked to get hands-on to learn the actual technical side of the projects I was working on. It meant I could cover the two bases of talking to clients on the one hand and understanding the technical requirements on the other.

I started doing more development in my free time, and I discovered I really enjoyed it, which coincided with a quarter life crisis! I did things like write a portfolio website for my girlfriend at the time, build a holiday-request app for Solid State Group, take some online learning courses, dabble in different languages.

What are you learning now?

Mainly learning more around the fundamentals of Python and the general fundamentals of computer science. I decided to learn Python because my best friend was a Python programmer and he gave me stuff to learn from the ground up.

Most of 2018 up until the summer I was doing class after class which generally involved doing small discrete projects, but since then my learning has been dedicated to working on a tool SSG made called Bullet Train, and even small bits of client work.

How did SSG support you in this?

They’ve been great. When I first spoke to them in December last year, my boss was on board and kicked off speaking to the directors, who were even more encouraging. They thought it was a great idea and gave me a day a week for personal development - and even more importantly they actively encouraged me to switch off, to get out the office so I wasn’t distracted by my main work.

What are good resources to learn programming?

Edx is a brilliant resource, it’s a consortium of universities around the world that make their course content available online with a freemium option. You can “audit” a course for free, which means access to lectures, or you can also pay for certain additional features so you can submit your work to be marked, and some of the marking is automated. You can get a certificate too if you pay, which is like $100. I recommend it because the content is true university-level content.

Word of encouragement to aspiring developers?

If you’ve got an interest in it you will succeed. It’s just a matter of the learning curve.

It helps having a logical, mathematical background. Likewise, some experience working with technology is always helpful. But it’s not hard, it’s just learning another language.

Matt is also spending the last three months of 2018 fulfilling another life dream of his, which is travelling around South America. Everyone at SSG is looking forward to his return.

For more on life at Solid State Group check out our blog, like the time the whole company went to SXSW.