“Dev Academy teaches development, ComSci teaches science.”

George Hardy, left, with fellow web development students and teachers at Enspiral Dev Academy, Auckland

After discovering that Computer Science didn’t teach him how to be a developer, George Hardy found himself in an unrelated field, until the need to return to his passion overwhelmed him. He researched his options and found Enspiral Dev Academy to be the best choice. 6 weeks after graduating, he signed a contract for his first full time developer role. We talked to him to learn more.

“I’m from Rotorua, I studied at Waikato Uni, did Computer Science. I did that degree and then out of uni I went into a job. I was there for about 5 years, but it wasn’t really related to my degree, so I didn’t need my degree to do that job. Coming out of uni I wasn’t really confident. You do a computer science degree but it’s not really teaching you to be a programmer necessarily. I didn’t feel confident to go straight into that kind of work.

My degree was more maths and theory, there’s a lot of the background of Computer Science. It’s not programming. I just came out of school and had an interest in computers and it’s kind of what I wanted to do, so I went into it. And there is some programming stuff in there for sure, but the goal of the Computer Science degree isn’t to create programmers. A lot of people do the degree and then they go into grad programmes and that’s where they learn how to properly programme and go into those jobs.

“The goal of the Computer Science degree isn’t to create programmers.”

But in my job I used some of those concepts, and for some problems I could code something up to solve it. Over time I found that this was the part of the job I liked the most. But there was no way I could do development full time at the company. There wasn’t a senior developer to help me learn, I was on my own. That’s why I ended up coming to Dev Academy. I thought ‘I do actually want to do this, and I can do this.’ And I thought Dev Academy would be a good way to go.

George at Dev Academy

I loved it. I’m not the most social person so I was a bit anxious going in. But on the first day everyone just got along really well. It’s quite cool how there were only ten people in our cohort, we were pretty close. It’s not like uni where classes are 300 people and you don’t know anyone and things go wrong and you just have to deal with it. I felt like I was more engaged with what was going on because it was easy to talk to the teachers at Dev Academy. The staff like Dougal and Marion were great support too. It wasn’t like at uni where it’s a huge deal to go to their office hours or wait after a lecture and then you have to rush to another lecture. I don’t think I ever would have done that at uni. I mean some people would, but with my personality, I don’t think I ever did. At Dev Academy it was easy to talk to them.

“I loved it.”

I really enjoyed working with other people on my team too, I found it really fun. I didn’t think I would enjoy pair programming but I really liked that part of it. I was the only one in the cohort with a Computer Science background, so some people were thinking that I was just going to leave them behind. And I definitely could have done that at times. But instead I used the pair programming to explain what I was doing, and it gave me a different perspective which helped me understand that if I actually slow down and think about a problem and verbalise it, and explain it in a different way, then I could come up with different solutions. Which in the end was a better skill for becoming a real world developer.

After graduating I’ve been coming into Dev Academy quite regularly, three or four times a week, looking for jobs online, doing a bit of coding, talking to people, helping out the other students. For me it’s good because I know if I was at home I wouldn’t have got as much done. Coming in here just gave me a place to focus on what I needed to do.

“I really enjoyed my time at Dev Academy and I feel like it prepared me really well for going in to my first dev job.”

During Careers Week we had Spark and a few other companies come in here, and a couple of their reps, and they asked for our CVs. I think they were quite interested in how Dev Academy works, in diversity and what the values are and what kind of grads are coming out of the place. So I put my CV in, interviewed, and I didn’t get the position but it was good practice. I submitted a few more CVs online, 6 or 7, and I found for most of them I didn’t get any response whatsoever. That was disheartening. We heard a lot that it was the time of year, just the shut down over Christmas, try again next year.

And then I found a job. I only signed a contract yesterday, six weeks after graduating, so I’m pretty stoked. And I actually found it on Student Job Search, which surprised me. There were a couple of full time dev positions advertised on there. It’s a full stack developer role for a small business. They do map based visualisation of big datasets, and a lot around water quality and education for councils, iwi and government departments. Understanding big data sets will be a key skill in the future of technology, so I’m excited to be learning more in that area. I quite like that it’s full stack, it’s React and Node — exactly what we learn at Dev Academy, which is pretty cool. Seems like a chill environment, a good team. I’ll be joining that team as a junior, working on an existing product, which is a data visualisation tool. It’s a small but experienced dev team and I’m hoping to learn a lot from them. The salary is on the upper end of what I was expecting coming out of Dev Academy for a junior position, so I’m very happy with that.

I really enjoyed my time at Dev Academy and I feel like it prepared me really well for going in to my first dev job. I still have a lot to learn but it has given me the confidence I needed to get my foot in the door.

Dev Academy — Now with Student Loans! If you love technology, have a passion for learning and the tenacity to work hard, this is for you. Our upcoming cohorts in Auckland and Wellington are filling fast. Don’t miss out — Apply now: https://www.devacademy.co.nz/apply-now.

A Day in the Life is a one-day Intro to Dev Academy on Friday, 8th February. It’s the best way to see why web development is right for you. Sign up now for Auckland or Wellington.