Fortune favours the brave

With a bit of determination, enthusiasm and self teaching, you too could be a developer. Danny shares his story.

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Becky Rock-Evans

20th November 2020

Software Developer Danny Williamson had a very unconventional start to his career in tech.

“I just kept turning up at Rocketmakers until they gave me a job,” he joked.

Danny had been stocking shelves at a local Sainsbury’s for a few years, but was increasingly keen to try something new. He had always been interested in technology, especially game development, but assumed he would need qualifications to pursue it as a career. ​​​​​​​

Danny from Rocketmakers headshot with Rocketmakers logo

Where do you start if you want to learn to code?

A chance encounter in 2011 changed everything.

Danny’s step-father met one of the founders of Rocketmakers at his work, and Danny asked for an introduction. He wanted to know what Rocketmakers would suggest he do to try getting a career in technology, specifically what college courses they would recommend.

Danny met with one of the Rocketmakers’ co-founders and with a developer. To his surprise, both recommended learning to code on his own rather than a university or college course.

“I don’t know if this is still the case,” Danny explained, “but software changes so quickly it is really hard for most courses to stay current. They suggested some resources and tutorials I could work on on my own, and I so that’s what I did.

Being eager and willing does he trick

But it was one more step Danny took which may have made an even bigger difference.

“Wednesdays were my day off at Sainsbury’s and I asked if I could come sit in their office every week to do my tutorials. I thought being surrounded by super-clever people would help.

“I came every Wednesday, and I guess they just got used to having me around. After about a year, CEO Richard Godfrey took me aside and offered me a job as a junior developer. I was thrilled. I gave my notice at Sainsbury’s immediately.”

Four people around a table at Rocketmakers HQ

Working at Rocketmakers

Danny’s first job at Rocketmakers was working on the community-project funding site Neighbourly. A year later he began working full time on backend development for PDMS, the medical record system used by Olympic and Paralympic athletes which later won a Queen’s Award.

“The first language I taught myself was C#, and since that is primarily a backend language I’ve been mostly working on backend development since I started.

“I know it was game development which first made me interested in a tech career, but backend work is surprisingly creative. It’s like solving a series of logic puzzles.”

In early 2020 Danny began splitting his time between PDMS and the Innovate UK-funded project known as ARiVR. Starting in August, he began working full time on an equity management platform called ShareGov.

A message to those considering a career in tech

Asked what he would say to anyone stuck in a job they didn’t like and considering switching to a career in tech, Danny said he would mostly just share his own story.

“I’d tell them how I got my foot in the door and suggest they try the same,” he said. “You can teach yourself the basics and talk to people. It’s a career where if you have the right attitude and are enthusiastic, it’s accessible. Ask questions, work hard, and have fun!”

Rocketmakers build innovative software for companies of all sizes. This is the team to call if you have a project and need a technical partner. Get in touch: firstcontact@rocketmakers.com or visit www.rocketmakers.com 

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