Tech is right for you and for me.

Words by Engie Matene and Maddy King

I te taha o toku matua,
Ko Ngati Rangi raua ko Ngati Moerewa oku hapu,
Ko Ngapuhi nui tonu te iwi.

I te taha o toku whaea,
Ko Rarotonga ratou ko Tongareva, ko Atiu, ko Tahiti oku motu,
No Tautoro me Kuki Airani au.
Ko Engie Matene ahau.

Women in tech dev academy new zealand
Engie Matene, Dev Academy graduate and TradeMe developer

“I’ll be honest, I grew up thinking technology wasn’t for me. I wasn’t any good at science so automatically in my mind that cancelled me out for doing anything tech related in the future. Or so I thought. Now as a graduate of Enspiral Dev Academy and a teaching assistant on the JavaScript, React and Redux course, it’s important that I share where I came from so you might find your feet heading in this direction too.

In my whānau, I was the first to finish school and the first to qualify for University. At that point, I enrolled twice for University and both times I failed to complete my studies. I didn’t recognise then that learning success for me is more than having just the theory, I need both the practical experience and theory. So off into the customer service industry I went. Over the span of 12 years I started from the frontline of organisations and grew — across the organisation, across sectors, upwards and backwards again — first in NZ and then Australia. Always working with and for people, he tāngata.

All this time I was searching. I have dreams of financial freedom and work flexibility that extend beyond the walls of an office. It’s all good to have a dream and ideas, but how was I going to make this a reality? This is what led me to start reading any books that I could about business, self development and people from different walks of life. I realised I wanted to find a way to take my ideas and the ideas of others and bring them into reality. I knew I was capable and there was potential for growth but I had no real clear direction because I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to be. So I counteracted this by throwing my energy into learning new things. For example, I learned: how to lead, manage and develop teams (large and small) and individuals in a team to success — consistently; how to communicate effectively with empathy; to be relentless and resourceful in lifting my knowledge of the intricate systems and processes specific to my organisation at the time and how to think strategically and execute strategy across an organisation, to name a few. I was always on the lookout for the next skill to add to my kete, always learning, being curious and getting ready.

“I chose being comfortable with the uncomfortable. I would never have expected this but my change in perspective has completely changed my life.”

Now, I’m not sure if it was me who found Dev Academy or Dev Academy who found me, but one day my friend Katie tagged me in a Facebook post about their work. The more I looked into the work Dev Academy do, the more interested I became. I was sceptical too. It sounded too good. But I liked the style of learning and teaching Dev Academy use. It was practical and hands-on: my favourite way of learning. I eventually emailed my interest, happened to be flying back to Wellington from Melbourne at the time and locked in interviews with Jack and Rohan. I submitted my application for the course, was accepted, and never looked back.

It wasn’t an easy road to boot camp. I was living in Melbourne at the time and so I had to save to pay for the fees, and for living costs once I moved back to Wellington. The personal and financial commitment and sacrifices I had to make to get to boot camp and graduate from boot camp were some of the most challenging times I’ve ever had. Yet, it was all worth it!

Across 9 weeks I got to build 10 different web development projects from scratch. I got to work as part of a development team. Everyday I got the chance to put agile methods into practice, working in project groups big and small to build full stack web applications. As a final project my team of 6 built ShopBro, an app that I proposed. It is a shopping companion that helps you track your savings when you’re shopping, that I wanted to build to help my family with their budgeting. I even taught myself how to use React-Native, a mobile application framework that I used to convert our ShopBro app to a mobile application for Android and iOS.

With the financial support from Dev Academy’s Te Ururangi Scholarship, and with the love and support of my partner, whanau and friends, I was able to take the leap and follow what I knew in my gut was what I wanted. Let me write this again — it is what I want and have chosen to do. To become a web developer.

“Being a web developer has lifted my pursuit for knowledge to another level where I relish problem solving because of the learning opportunities it brings and this excites me.”

I knew it was what I wanted because there was a moment in boot camp where I had to make a choice. The life of a web developer I’ve come to learn is a life of learning. A life of living in the uncomfortable space of never knowing everything and learning to be at peace with that. I had to choose to be at peace with this discomfort or keep resisting it. Being in conflict with it was a continuous amount of stress for me at the time. So I chose being comfortable with the uncomfortable. I would never have expected this but my change in perspective has completely changed my life. Being a web developer has lifted my pursuit for knowledge to another level where I relish problem solving because of the learning opportunities it brings and this excites me. Everyday. I now have the means, as a web developer, to build digital solutions. To bring my ideas and the ideas of others into reality.

It was my love for learning that brought me to the tech space and it is what will keep me here. There is something new to learn in this tech industry ALL THE TIME! It doesn’t stop. What is industry standard today can be ripped apart and put back together again better tomorrow and we as developers will need to be able learn and re-learn, question it, change or adjust and then go again.

This process is what Dev Academy will expose you to, educate you on and help guide you through as you navigate this continuous improvement environment armed with your unique strengths and talents.

It’s taken a long time for me to get here but with all I have learnt so far I am incredibly grateful to have found a place for me in te ao hangarau mamati — the world of digital technology. And if you want it, you can find yours too!”

Engie is now a developer at TradeMe, and has also worked as a developer for Arataki Cultural Trails.


If you too would like to shape your future, apply now to join Dev Academy .

Engie would love for you to get in touch. Connect with her on LinkedIn.