From customer service job to career as a developer

December 6, 2022 | Employment, Graduate Profile

Goretti Alani first noticed she had an interest in coding while in a customer service role over a decade ago. Fast forward to a series of chance encounters and global events, and Goretti has finally realised her dream of being a developer.
“Part of my customer service background was working on the help desk for a software company. So people would contact me if they had issues with the software. If it was a bug, I'd have to pass it on to the development team. That was 10 years ago…ever since then, I was like, 'ah I'm interested in what the team is doing to fix the bug'.

"I'd rather be the one trying to fix the bug, than answering phone calls and emails. I wish I could be on that team.”

Goretti Alani, Horoeka 2021

This nugget of an idea took some time to materialise. Self doubt crept in, it was expensive to retrain and the timing was never right. Overcoming self-doubt was the first big hurdle. Then one day, a conversation prompted Goretti to challenge her assumption that math was key to becoming a developer.
“My understanding at the time was that you had to be good at math. You know, you have to be super intelligent to be a developer. That was the myth that I told myself, that I could never do it.

"Then I asked someone who was a developer and they were like 'no, man, you just have to be good at Googling!' — oh ok, maybe I'll give it a shot."

The next hurdle to overcome was the cost to retrain. Luckily, the New Zealand Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) was introduced in 2020 to provide fee-free learning for select tertiary courses. At the same time, the travel industry had taken a nose dive (Goretti was working as a flight attendant in 2020), meaning it finally made sense for Goretti to move home to Aotearoa New Zealand and commit to a web development course.
Goretti at the Countdown X office
Goretti graduated from Dev Academy Aotearoa in 2021. Within 4 months, she landed a role as junior Full Stack Developer at Countdown X, the digital arm of Countdown Supermarkets.
A friend at Countdown X referred Goretti for a developer role. Here the self doubt snuck in again — the job description and tech stack had Goretti worried she might not have what it took for this particular role. But she persisted and got an interview. The hiring team's feedback was that they loved her attitude and knew she’d pick up new skills fast.
Having to learn a completely new tech stack has been a challenge, but Goretti is enjoying continuing her learning journey. While she didn't learn C Sharp at Dev Academy, she had a great base from which to learn new programming languages. Her team also uses the Agile framework, which she did learn and experience with on the course. Working in a squad with daily standups is a familiar routine.
So, what was attractive about studying with Dev Academy Aotearoa? For Goretti, it was the breadth of the programme: practical coding and soft skills. She also liked that the team screens applicants to ensure the right group of people are working together in a holistic way. Working online and remotely with her cohort was tough during Covid-19 lockdowns, but it was such a great group of tutors and students, that group work was surprisingly easy. Working with genuine people helped too.
One of the best lessons Goretti learned during her course time was that she was a visual learner, and the concept of a growth mindset.
“[I learned] that the reward is the struggle, and not the result of your learning. So like, taking on board the effort that you're putting into your learning, that that in itself is the reward. Once I learned that, I realised I shouldn't be so hard on myself.”
What surprised Goretti about her learning journey was that she would learn more than just how to code. She discovered that she’s a creative person, with an interest in UX design. She also found she could lean on her previous work experience in customer service roles to bring a human centred approach to her technical role. The other surprise was the pathways the course has opened up for her, and just how broad the world of tech is.

"There's something for everyone in tech.”

For anyone considering a career in programming, Goretti is full of enthusiasm to just give it a go. Goretti felt it was her human skills rather than technical skills that landed her current job, so it's important to understand your strengths and how others approach problems and solutions. What’s more, your cohort could end up being lifelong friends - an added bonus of being a Dev Academy alumni!

Ready to follow your dreams with a career in tech?

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