Recently Huddle took on a new web development intern named Stefanie. Here, she tells her story of the chain of events leading her to the UK and what motivated her to pursue a career in digital.

Moving to the UK

In the spring of 2019, I got the sudden inspiration to move from Canada to the UK. I had no commitments at home, so it seemed like the perfect time for an adventure! Two of my oldest friends had ended up in Leeds, so that’s where I decided to go.

I officially started settling in in late September, after a couple of months of travelling. Being in my late 20s, I felt that the days of working in a bar or shop were behind me and I was motivated to make career advancements.

I wanted to take advantage of the cheap flights around Europe, so I wanted a set schedule that I could plan my life around.

The first few months

I spent my first six weeks here applying for jobs in photography and communications nonstop. I also sent speculative emails to every digital marketing agency in Leeds, as I was really drawn to all the creative possibilities that seemed to exist in that industry.

I didn’t have any luck, so I gave up and applied for a bunch of restaurants. I got a job in no time, and while it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing, I appreciated the money and I loved the people I was working with!

Over the following few months, I was so exhausted by work that I didn’t have the energy to look for other jobs or improve upon my photography. I spent all my time either working, recovering from work, or seeing my boyfriend, who lived in Manchester.

I did have the chance to take quite a long trip in January (and thank goodness I did!!), but I wasn’t doing as much travelling as I had wanted to do.

COVID


Image by Nathan W. Pyle

When the COVID lockdown started and I was furloughed, I was actually quite grateful for the time to rest and to spend more than a rushed 12 hours at a time with my boyfriend (about four months more–that’s one way to get to know someone!).

About a month in I started doing some research on what technical skills I could learn from home that would make me more employable. Someone suggested I learn Python, and that sent me down the coding rabbit hole!

I started researching all the different types of coding one could do and the different jobs that were associated with each. I thought front end web development seemed just like my sort of thing, so I started focusing on that and became absolutely obsessed!

Learning to code

I was really excited to find out how accessible all the online learning tools were for coding courses in general. There’s such a wonderful community out there of people willing to share technical knowledge and industry knowledge through blogs, videos, and even one-on-one conversations.

The courses I found were affordable and thorough. I could almost always find answers if I was stuck, whether from other students or elsewhere online. Every day I surprised myself with how much I was managing to learn on my own.

I was doing courses, working on personal projects, listening to podcasts, and doing research all day every day.  Something I never thought I was smart enough to do became something I really loved.

The more I looked into it, the more I realized just how common it was for self-taught developers to find work within quite a reasonable amount of time.

Knowing I only had limited time before I was un-furloughed, which would mean losing the freedom I had to study, I quite literally could not stop building my web development knowledge. I didn’t want to work at a restaurant during a pandemic for long!

Applying for jobs

When I got a return-to-work date, I figured that it was time to take some action and try to get a job or an internship using my new skills. I started spending about half my time working on web development and half my time applying for jobs.

I applied for jobs that were a little more technical than I would have previously thought myself capable of doing, and I also started emailing digital marketing agencies in Manchester to see if any of them would be willing to take me on for an internship.

I posted in a local Facebook group to see if anyone could suggest any agencies I may have missed that would consider taking on an intern, and someone referred me to Huddle, so I added them to the list of companies to contact.

This time around, I got so many more responses! I got four interviews, and even a ton of places that couldn’t interview me were kind enough to send really positive feedback and words of encouragement. Some even invited me to apply for junior developer roles once I picked up more skills.

I was really surprised that I had a significantly higher response rate during the pandemic than I had before it! I’m quite sure that the skills I learned are what helped push that forward, because I don’t believe my way of approaching companies changed very much, if at all.

Landing the job(s)

I was extremely lucky in my second week of being back at the restaurant to first be offered a part-time role as a marketing assistant for a web hosting company. This role requires some knowledge of web development, as I have to write social media and blog posts about it.

A few days later, I was also offered a web development internship with Huddle! I was lucky that they were willing to be extremely flexible and let me come on part time so I could do both jobs.

I’ve had jobs I’ve enjoyed before, but I’ve never had a job that I’ve enjoyed AND that I want to do long term and actually grow into. I’ve never had the opportunity to learn and move forward as much as I have now in both my roles. It’s amazing to be in environments that are so supportive and that are contributing to my professional growth.

I still can’t believe that I’m getting paid now to do what I was doing over lockdown out of interest and for fun!

Stefanie Lis

Written by our Web Development Intern, Stefanie.

A former theatre nerd and a photojournalism graduate, Stefanie discovered her passion for web development over the COVID lockdown. She’s always interested in learning more about design and cool coding hacks! In her spare time, Stefanie loves travelling, eating, and trying to see how quickly she can complete the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Read more by Stefanie