I went quite a roundabout route to get to where I am today. My parents moved to South Africa when I was about 10 and I went to uni there, studying photography. I worked freelance for a couple of years, doing photography and a bit of graphic design.
But when I moved back to the UK I lost all my connections and struggled to get that going again. I did bartending for a while and then managed to get a job doing photo retouching at a modelling agency. That wasn’t the best time. It didn’t sit well with me from a moral standpoint, and the work was incredibly tedious. I was comfortable though, and honestly, probably a little uncertain of my own abilities at that point, so I didn’t have the confidence to leave. Luckily, (in retrospect) I got made redundant, so that decision was made for me.
I got back into pub work and started learning how to code in my spare time. It can be quite isolating learning to code, there’s a lot of sitting and frowning at error messages, and feeling a bit stupid. Finding the Brighton Codebar community and attending their free workshops really helped to build my confidence.
A year or so later I had my first job at an ad agency, I found my love for web animation there, as I was making a lot of banner ads and jazzy landing pages.
There’s only so long you can focus your energy on building things that everybody hides with ad-blocking software. I wanted to build things that were more useful, and had a bit more impact, so I started job hunting, luckily Clearleft were on the hunt for a Junior at the same time.
It was someone, rather than something that caught my imagination and got me into coding. Around the time I got made redundant, I went to a house party, and met a woman who’d just finished a coding bootcamp. She was spectacular, loud, excitable, brimming with enthusiasm for everything she’d learnt. We talked drunkenly at each other for hours.
Her enthusiasm reminded me of the excitement I felt back in the early 2000’s, making custom myspace profiles and neopets pages for friends. I hadn’t thought about that for years.
On her recommendation I went to a free coding workshop at Le wagon. I felt pretty out of my depth, but I met another wonderful woman there, Jen. She introduced me to Codebar Brighton and took the time to give me guidance and advice. We sadly lost Jen to depression late last year.
I’m forever grateful to Jen. You never know how much a conversation or small act of kindness is going to have on someone’s life. I try to emulate that whenever possible.
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