Note: This is a long blog post about my story on how I got to be a UI Developer.
How does one move on from Animation into a Developer position?
What skills do I need? Besides Tech Skills?
I am currently doing work as a UI Developer and this is my story, how I landed a Developer job in 2-3 months after graduating from an animation course by doing some self-improvement and self-learning new skills.
This is a recount of how I went from my time at Animation to UI Development.
After graduating from 3dsense and doing a short graphic design project while applying for animation jobs. I decided 2 months in I needed to pivot away for a while from doing animation.
Earlier I was applying to the various animation jobs and only had 1 art test for a CG engineering related position. I failed it. I also tried to interview for motion graphics jobs but my portfolio was not relevant, since it was mostly 2D and not 3D CG type works.
Looking around at the marketplace on various job boards for jobs animation was not so ‘Hot’ right now where I lived. It was getting worrying that I could not find any job as a junior animator. Plus I had to feed myself. The thoughts of a starving artist mind was creeping on to me. I wondered if I have to end this story for a while. The option to working overseas as a junior animator was not feasible right now.
I kept hearing on the news and seeing my facebook feed about Tech and Programming initiatives that the Goverment and companies are promoting. Recalling my time at General Assembly there was the coding Bootcamp, but I never took much notice about it as I felt I could do better in the creative space rather than being a tech geek. Perhaps my impressions were not so good about programming having thoughts it was hard. But I decided to just see what it was like in this space since I needed to find work.
Getting Back to Software Development (Research)
Back on searching the online Job portals I had to make a comparison between animation and tech jobs. I felt it was important to see how much salary and opportunity demand were for Tech Talent and to my surprise I found more hits and results than even UX Design or Animation.
Reading more articles on Google about future tech trends made me realise having some knowledge about Tech and development roles have a better prospects for a while. And it is something still valued in the economy as Hard Skills. Tech skills were still in demand for now I concluded.
This made me realise I have to get back into programming.
One point to note I won’t be starting at a ZERO beginner base, as I have had web development experience from long ago except it was PHP and HTML CSS. Looking through the jobs on indeed.com I found most tech job requirements were different from what I learnt. It was asking me if I have experience with many new languages like Python, Ruby, React, Angular and Node.js. Web development is looking very different than what I knew.
I was undecided if I could go back to do the 3 month course like at General Assembly. Or try to work though there were a few new ones coming up and the controversies of bootcamps and job placement, where many students were promised a career in tech but realise how hard it was and the programs were a touch and go kind of thing and not deep enough to build deep expertises.
But having attended some Tech Exhibition event it made me convinced that I had to go to one of the bootcamps to gain relevant and marketable tech skills or do my own personal learning online.
Bootcamp and Techskills Accelerators
I started to apply to the various coding bootcamps to learn more about the course and when their intakes begin throughout the year. There were all kinds some 3 months some 6 months and there ware even one at a Hospital College. All these programs promised the career transition or switch into the tech industry regardless of your background.
I applied to one of the courses and was given a coding test. This introduced me to Code Wars an online coding challenge platform where you answer coding questions. They wanted to evaluate my competences before enrolling for the course. Besides the test I had a breif phone interview where I was briefed about the course and what to expect. I was given some practice questions to try out before I could attempt the actual Code Wars Test.
But even though I was trying to apply for courses and doing the test and trial questions, one thing popped up I had a lack of funds and I could not apply for any Goverment Grants for training as I used it up at 3dsense for the current year.
This made me stopped the coding challenges and test and had to find a way to restart another way to learn the skills of software development, without the guidance of a coach or physical course.
Somehow the thought of applying and not going to the bootcamp was better in hind sight as I felt I already graduated and got a Job my mindset was so different than when I was at 3dsense where all I wanted was to be a game animator.
Hacking my Skills through Ultralearning
Updating my old programming skills in 2019.
I though of using what I learned in Top Performer and finding relevant online courses to hack my skills to gain some understanding of a Tech Developer Role before taking the plunge into an actual developer job. Since I was not starting from a total Zero base and had some programming knowledge. I remembered Scott H Young studying for the MIT-Challenge in a year and blogged about it, he also recetly published a book about ultralearning a method of picking skills fast but I did not know it at the time. And I needed to find the relevant Skills for a job in 2 months while upgrading my resume.
I started watching Stefan Miscook Videos to get a rough idea of how to get into Web Development. One thing that he says in his videos is to check what is in demand for your market. It could be PHP or Java or Python each region will have different market needs.
I started to google and Read Blog posts about how others switched jobs and tackled programming challenges. This motivated me to know that people out there have done it as well. There were many stories about regular people making the jump to tech and even working at Google. I know motivation stories like these can’t replace the work you do but its a good Spark and starting off point to remember that someone else out there has done it.
I started out by watching videos on Lynda.com and some free Youtube Videos to refresh my HTML and CSS but I watching these courses I stumbled upon Freecodecamp and Scrimba. which had both lessons and live coding practice you could use to learn. These were Freecodecamp and Scrimba.
After watching some of FreeCode Camp videos I started to do the basic exercises to gain some practice on using the code languages. One good thing about FreeCode Camp is there is a roadmap to learn the necessary skills for web development. Later I used it as a sylabus research as I switched to Scrimba halfway after discovering it via Youtube.
I went back to Lynda.com to learn programming concepts like what is a Variable, OOP and some basic Python knoledge. These were more higher level concepts that you needed to know like how a program flow and since Lynda.com had an App I could play the lesson and hear through my iPhone Headphones while commuting. Just to stay in touch with the material consistently.
I tried to clock in 2 hours of learning and practice since it was a short lesson followed by practice in the web browser. This helped to reinforce the concepts learned.
The main key point was not to learn a specific language but general programming concepts that can be brought over to other languages or frameworks.
Resume Rework and other ‘soft skills’
At this time while learning to code and trying to get a Job, I went to a career counselling session where I met with a career advisor to help me understand how to get a job in my current situation.
It was a good sessions where we go over things like how to present my resume better tailored to the industry and adding the right keywords for the specific Job i was applying for. I was tasked to get my resume / CV more focused for the job. I was also told to showcase that I am still learning about new things and showcase that I am upgrading myself it can even be online learnings.
One other option I was told was to try internships or Job Trials for roles lasting 3-6 months this is for me to get a feel of what the job and role in the industry would be like. Most of the placement would be facilitated by MyCareersFuture Center.
After listening to my Career Coach and making the edits to my resume / CV, I submitted my new resume to the MyCareers Future Portal to be considered for job vacancies.
Inbetween I went to take some free interview workshops and learning how to answer interview questions and presenting my past experiences. One key takeaway is to learn to get
Next step was to register for various tech related career fairs. I found one right through one of their Facebook Ads held at M Hotel.
Career Fair Getting Interviews
Going to a career fair had 2 Goals
- Talk to Recruiters to understand what kind of available jobs are out there in IT
- Gain Face to Face practice Interview Skills
The career fair was a good chance to meet people in the industry.
I spent the afternoon there talking with various recruiters to understand what people were hiring for. Some kept my resume. Some had a long chat with me about my career history and interest in Tech.
I learned that Python and Node were popular choices. But if you have skills in Java you can still get a Job but it was for enterprise level systems developed quite a long time ago.
I looked mostly at Front End Jobs since that was more closely related to what I was learing on Scrimba. I wanted something along the lines of Web Development, but some required a specific framework like Angular or React.
After dropping off my resume there I waited. One of the agencies called me up and setup me for interviews with various companies. Thanks to the career fair I was Lined up for 3 Job interviews for the next two weeks.
The other two interviews surprisingly did not. I just talked about my past experiences and showed some demos I did on my Laptop and describe my past experiences with working with Microsoft Sharepoint designing and deploying webpages.
Later I was contacted by 1 that they wanted to offer me a job to be a Developer in Financial Services. Doing Dashboard designs and Working on Front End Code.
This is the end of my story it was a long journey to go from an Animator wanting to work on game projects to now doing Dashboard and UI Development.
If you are planning to learn code and get a job, look at online courses like FreeCode Camp, Scrimba and Lynda.com these are very easy to learn and with the hands on practice you get doing the exercises you are well on your way to solidifying the concepts.
Go to career fairs, these are better than tech meetups as there is a pool of companies ready to hire candidates. You get better chance of exposure to the recruiters and see where you stand.