MSwDevStudent Stories

From Scrubbing Cages to Coding Languages: One Woman’s ICT Career Transformation

By March 7, 2019 No Comments

When Sarah Turner was working as a vet nurse, she never could have imagined life as a backend software developer on a multinational project.

“I always thought the tech industry was full of geeks in dark rooms sitting behind computers surrounded by empty energy drinks. I didn’t think I had the brains for it and the environment never appealed.”

Caring and empathetic, Sarah loved being a nurse but was exhausted by the physicality and low pay of vet clinics. A mother of two beautiful kids, Sarah knew that she also couldn’t invest in a three year Bachelor degree. Desperate for change, she decided to enrol in a commerce paper at Victoria University of Wellington. Maybe a business career would provide a better work-life balance for her small family.

During this paper Sarah had a lucky break, a single assignment required learning the basics of HTML CSS. Here Sarah realised that her detail orientation and natural empathy were critical for completing the assignment. Following this, she began a search for an intensive programme where she could hone this new and highly practical skill.

This is when Sarah found the Wellington ICT Graduate School. Uniquely placed in the Wellington Tech ecosystem, this TEC funded initiative partners with Victoria University of Wellington and Whitireia/WelTec to offer one-year, Level 9 Masters Degrees. Perfect for professionals like Sarah, who are ready to invest in a major career transition into the tech space.

“Everyone wants you to succeed,” says Sarah about the Wellington ICT Graduate School, “our professors collaborate with industry professionals to create courses that make us job ready.”

When Sarah arrived to the first day of class, she was especially surprised to see a room half-full of other women. The cultural shift towards promoting diversity in tech was directly reflected in her classroom. Moreover, because of the conversion nature of the course, her peers came from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Artists, linguists, musicians and mathematicians without any prior experience in the tech world.

“I was definitely surprised at the range of skills I have had to employ to complete the course projects. My prior experience as a mother and vet nurse has helped me to work in teams, understand directives and write code confidently.”

The Wellington ICT Graduate School also provided Sarah the chance to work with the other disciplines. Alongside Master of Professional Business Analysis and Master of User Experience Design students, she completed collaborative projects for local Wellington businesses and start-ups. Because her Master of Software Development programme blended technical education with teamwork, Sarah was able to complete real life projects which landed her the internship of a lifetime working with a global team.

“Today’s tech industry requires both soft and hard skills,” says Lynda Turner the Director of the Wellington ICT Graduate School. “Professionals can no longer work in isolation.

Technology is inherently about people and that’s why we are excited to provide these innovative and transformative programmes.”

Leading by example, Sarah’s children have seen her work long hours and most weekends but they have also witnessed a strong, motivated professional ready to capitalise on natural skills she never knew she had.

“As an adult, I have discovered exactly what I want to do, and I’m not giving up anytime soon.”

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