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Four ways to break into software development

by Ed Chan14 September 2021 3 Min Read

When the pandemic put life on pause, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who began considering their career options. Looking around, I saw that after healthcare, the tech sector had the highest number of vacancies, what with so many businesses growing their online presence. And whilst many outside the tech industry think that the developer’s role would be boring and repetitive, this is far from true. 

At Planes, our dev team gets to work on a huge variety of projects across a broad range of sectors, from finance and FMCG to education and beauty. With job stability and flexible working also par for the course, being a developer has many advantages. And, skillset aside, there are a bunch of different ways to break into the industry. Below are just some of the routes that the team at Planes took on their journeys to becoming devs.

1. Dive right in with a coding boot camp

No prior coding experience but want to dive headfirst into the deep end? Coding boot camps are an excellent way to get started. Generally three months long, they are designed to take you from zero to getting that first developer job in the shortest possible time. But watch out–boot camps can be expensive, costing anywhere from £4000 to £10,000 (or even more), not to mention the fact that you won’t have time to earn an income during that time. 

“Before becoming a developer, I was teaching English in China and Turkey. When the pandemic hit, teaching went online, and it wasn’t the same for me. I decided it was a good time for a career change and decided to do a coding boot camp. After a few intense months of coding, and with a few projects in my portfolio, I joined Planes to kick-off a new chapter in my career!”

Edward, Developer

2. Double down and get a degree 

Studying a computer-related subject at university remains a popular way to break into the tech industry. Computer science degrees are 3-4 years long and cover in-depth theoretical material as well as hands-on coding. Compared to boot camps and self-teaching, it is generally easier to find your first job with a degree, given the huge number of graduate jobs on the market.

I started working with Planes as part of my journey to becoming a full-time software engineer again. With a degree in computer science, I had already experimented with different career paths, such as product manager and start-up founder, but I finally decided software development was my passion because I enjoy helping bring apps to life.

Dale, Senior Software Engineer

3. Save cash with self-teaching

There are tons of online courses available that are comparatively cheaper than boot camps to help you get started. Learning alone can get a bit tedious, but self-teaching is an excellent way to save money if you are highly motivated. It may also take longer than a boot camp to become job-ready, but you can go at the comfort of your own pace.

In 2017, I had graduated with a Masters in Science, but quickly became trapped working countless hours in a busy London bar; I needed an escape. I planned a trip to Australia, where I worked on an island in the Torres Strait. Being out in the middle of nowhere made slipping in 10-20 hours a week of self-learning and coding easy. Within nine months, I had grasped all of the essentials and made my own little web app game! I was ready. On my last week living on the island, I noticed a job advert for a developer based in Hoxton, London. It was a small digital product agency, started by two friends my age, and they were keen to hire a new junior. Ten weeks later, I started at Planes.

Seamus, Software Engineer

“With a background in fashion design, I used to work as a fashion assistant in London. When the pandemic started in March 2020, like many, I found myself stuck at home. I decided to start taking a Udemy web development course online and discovered how enjoyable coding was, especially when it came to web design. A few months later, I began working for Planes!” 

Jinjin, Front-End Developer

4. Mould your existing skills with a mentor 

Perhaps, you have friends or family who are developers? Or maybe someone in your extended network has a contact? However you find them, a friend in the biz can lay out a roadmap for you to follow and help whenever you run into blocks. It’s also a great way to stay motivated and on the right track. They may even be able to put you in touch with people in the industry to help you get that first junior job!  

Finding a job

Development is a broad field, ranging from front-end mobile development to data science and AI. Web development is generally the easiest field to break into, given its huge demand. Some basic requirements and musts on any portfolio include:

  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript

  • Examples of previous website development

  • Understanding version control, such as Github

  • API competency

  • Websites demonstrating the use of popular libraries such as React are a bonus

Once you have a portfolio of small jobs, you can start applying to jobs with bigger agencies and clients, all the while building up new skills. And remember, a positive attitude goes a long way, too!

Fancy a chat about what your developer career could look like at Planes, or just want some advice about how to break into the industry? I’d love to chat. Drop me a line via

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