My CFGdegree Experience: Becky Loades

A blog banner promoting our new blog ‘my cfgdegree experience with Becky Loades’ who studied with CFG, and is now a trainee software engineer at NatWest Group.

Becky’s CFG story began with her frustration over a taproom brewery’s online store that led her to learn code and eventually take on the CFGdegree! After completing the course, today she is a Trainee Software Engineer at NatWest. 

How did you first hear about Code First Girls?

I was running the taproom of a brewery during the pandemic, and when lockdown 2 happened, I took over running the online store. I got frustrated with the website and started googling and teaching myself code snippets to try and improve its functionality. I quite liked playing around with the code, and started looking for an online course to start learning a bit more – enter CFG! 

 “The enormity of the tech world was particularly appealing, as it gives me so much freedom to expand my knowledge and try new things.”

What made you decide to apply for the CFGdegree? What were you doing before you applied?

I was working in the craft beer industry, which I absolutely loved, but after a decade of hospitality I wanted a new challenge and to find a career where I was encouraged to keep learning and growing. I’m a hugely indecisive person, and the idea of committing to one job forever scares me, so the enormity of the tech world was particularly appealing, as it gives me so much freedom to expand my knowledge and try new things, and there are so many directions my career could grow.

We often get questions from potential students who aren’t sure which stream to take, especially as we now offer 4, Data, Software Engineering, Full-Stack & Product Management! Why did you select the stream that you did?

Initially, when I started looking at CFG and other coding courses, I thought I was interested in web development.

But after completing both the Web Development and Python & Apps Kickstarter courses, I fell totally in love with Python and realised I am far more interested in creating logical, smooth and robust systems, than front-end, UI development.

I would really recommend that if you’re struggling to choose, you should try your hand at a variety of languages and software before deciding, as you never know what will ignite your passion.

Do some research into the different roles in tech, and think about what might match up to your skills and interests – it’s better to spend a bit more time working out what’s right for you, and wait for the next cohort than to rush and commit to the wrong thing. 

“I fell totally in love with Python and realised I am far more interested in creating logical, smooth and robust systems”

How did the CFG Coding Kickstarter course help prepare you for the CFGdegree?

I took both the Python and Web Development Kickstarter Classes, and particularly the final projects really inspired me, seeing what I could create with a little time, knowledge and guidance; sparked a passion to keep learning and creating. Having done a couple of courses in completely different languages, helped me start to see the patterns and logic that many languages share, which meant I picked things up quicker in the CFGdegree.

How did you balance work/life during the CFGdegree? What advice would you give to someone considering doing it, but is worried about the time commitment?

I continued working full time, 9-5 during the course, and at times it was definitely exhausting. I’m not going to pretend that it won’t be a lot at times, but it’s only a short-term struggle for an absolutely huge opportunity that will affect the rest of your life – I had a few very late nights, but it was all one hundred per cent worth it. Meal prep is key, and make sure to lean on your support network, and ask for help when you need it.

What does your average day look like as a Trainee Software Engineer at Natwest?

I drink a lot of coffee and do a LOT of Googling. ☕️

At the moment I’m learning to work with the core banking system, which has its own language, and working with the BAU team to investigate and fix bugs and errors in functionality. I start my day off by reviewing my tickets and making a plan of action. I participate in the daily stand-up with my team and share what I am working on, and any issues I might have. This is also a good opportunity to learn about what other team members are working on, as well as any upcoming releases or changes that might affect my work.

Then I work on my tickets, which means investigating and recreating bugs, before diving into the code to identify why the error occurred and implementing a fix. I often check in with Business Analysts to see how the system should behave, and how they would like problems to be resolved.

I have a daily catch-up with my boss to ask any questions and chat through how I’m planning on working on my tickets. The bank has been incredibly supportive of my development and understands that the CFGdegree was only the start of my journey, and is continuing to give me learning opportunities and enrol me in additional courses to really get to know my role.

What was your experience like on the +Masters like, how do you think it helped prepare you for your role at Natwest now?

The +Masters (in DevOps and Cloud) was a completely new topic for me but helped to broaden my horizons and gave me a lot of context on how code goes from writing to deployment. While it does not correlate exactly to my current role, it does for some of my fellow graduates, and it gave me a really good insight into the lifecycle of an application. 

Rather than writing code and sending it off into the universe to magically be deployed, I understand more about how new products and changes are integrated and feel more in touch with the process as a whole.

What one piece of advice would you give someone considering doing the CFGdegree?

Take the leap: the CFGdegree is built to meet you where you are, and all the instructors I have encountered are incredibly patient and knowledgeable and want to see you succeed.

Notion is your best friend for note-taking, a second screen will make your life infinitely easier, stock your fridge full of ready meals, and be kind to yourself.

P.s. if you can’t solve something, make yourself stop and take a break. The amount of times I have had a mid-lunch or mid-shower epiphany about something I’ve been frustrated about for hours is honestly mind-blowing.