Anamaria’s Story: From Journalist to Developer

Author: Anamaria Shyam

My name is Anamaria and I am a journalism graduate.

I decided to move to England right after my graduation. With English not being my first language, I started to realise that I needed to look into other career options if I was going to stay in the UK.

That’s when I decided that rather than focusing on writing articles for my blog, I would try to learn how to build a blog from scratch.

I learned how to code from the internet: tutorials, free coding platforms etc. After working on these for a while, I applied for an internship scheme at Substrakt, a digital agency that builds websites for organisations in the arts and culture sector.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected. But that didn’t stop me, but just pushed me to learn more. One year later I applied for the same scheme and got one of the 3 spots available. Since then, I have learned a lot (and am now a full-time member of the team) and every day I am amazed by the technologies that are out there.

What was the feedback from Substrakt in the year you didn’t get the internship opportunity?

I was simply not ready yet. On the online courses I learned the basics, created static websites where everything is hard-coded, meanwhile Substrakt – as any other web agency – was focusing on dynamic websites, working with APIs and delivering more complex websites than my humble “Hello world” and the calculator I created with some basic JS.

I was disappointed, obviously, but I asked if we could keep in touch and if they could let me know when they ran the internship scheme again.

I started an online bootcamp that promised “real-life projects” and when I finished the course, I emailed Substrakt with my new portfolio. Later that year, I was siting in the same office having a feeling of deja-vu, but this time hoping to get a place. And I did! Then, at the end of the 4 months internship, they offered me a permanent job as a Junior Developer and that’s how my tech journey started.

Valuable soft skills

As a journalism student, I was taught to be curious, to always question everything around me, and to ensure I verify my sources and my information.

I developed my soft skills: effective communication, teamwork, flexibility and adaptability. Moving into programming, all those skills were incredibly helpful!

I definitely had a technical skill gap so I had to learn the most basic things, like how the computer works and what is behind all those weird acronyms that I saw every time I googled “programming”.

But I am now confident and everyday I work with: WordPress and ticketing systems, Git and version control, CSS and CSS pre-processors, HTML and PHP.

I am currently working as a developer at Substrakt, entirely self-taught, with two years of professional experience and counting!

A day in the life

I work in the Clients Services team and in this team, no two days are the same. I start with a short meeting with my team where we discuss what we have done the day before, what we are planning to work on that day and if we have anything that needs further discussion.

Once all it’s settled, I check my emails and my tickets and ensure I am aware of any high priorities, reply to any of time-sensitive ones and then start working on my to-do list.

Sometimes, as with any job, things don’t go as you expect – maybe a client needs immediate assistance or one tiny thing that should have taken only half an hour has ended up becoming a several hour long task!  And for me it could include debugging the issue, updating the code, QA and testing of the code and deployment of the code.

So sometimes I end the day proud that I resolved all my tasks, and other times I finish with a whole list of items to continue in the morning! I think that’s the beauty of web development though: it’s challenging, keeps you on your toes and pushes you to learn more, to find out more and more with every line of code, every little bug fix, every intricate new feature. The journey wasn’t always easy, but definitely rewarding and I would do it again without hesitation.