The CFGdegree as a neurodivergent learner: CFG Ambassador, Claire Evans’ story.

CFG Ambassador Claire discusses neurodiversity in tech & her experience learning on the CFGdegree.

💻 Code First Girls Ambassador Claire reflects on her experiences studying the CFGdegree as a neurodivergent learner with Autism. Claire touches on burnout and overstimulation amongst neurodivergent individuals in the workplace, and encourages everyone to declare to feel supported in the CFGdegree and at work. To read more about Claire’s journey and CFGdegree tips, feel free to connect with her on Linkedin!


  • Favourite coding language? (if you have one!)
    • CSS, it makes things pretty!
  • What is your choice of beverage for coding
    • I’ve started drinking that mushroom coffee for ADHD… still not convinced it works!
  • Desk set up – RGB, Minimal or my aesthetic
    • My psychology lecturer described me as “anally repulsive”. My desk is a mess.. But I know exactly where everything is!
  • If you had to only use one for life: Laptop or PC?
    • PC, I like the bigger screen and can use it to watch TV.
  • Are you most productive in the morning or evening/night?
    • Neither, I’m tired during both!
  • What do you listen to whilst you code and where? Spotify, radio, vinyl or fave CD? 
    • I’m easily distracted so usually watching YouTube videos!

👋 Hi Claire, thank you for taking part in this spotlight! Please give a brief intro about who you are, your tech experience, what you do professionally, and why you want to become a CFG Ambassador.

I worked in data management and really enjoyed it. Due to personal circumstances I had to relocate, and was unable to find a similar role, so I ended up being trapped in customer service jobs for a number of years until I discovered CFG and learned to code.

I then worked as a Data Analyst and also became a CFG Instructor. I felt so much appreciation in this role that I decided to teach full-time, so I’m now an ICT lecturer.

I became a CFG Ambassador to spread the word about the courses. If I had known they existed years ago then I could have escaped a job I hated a lot sooner. So I want to help other people do the same.

🤔 What are some common misconceptions about neurodiverse individuals who work in tech?

People underestimate how much we can suffer from burnout. If I say I’m exhausted, I really don’t feel like people are taking me seriously because I look “normal”, so they don’t understand that my body and brain can literally just shut down because I’m so overwhelmed.

I also think companies put too much emphasis on going into the office as they don’t realise how the overstimulation from commuting and being around people can overwhelm and exhaust us.

⛰️ Have you encountered any barriers or obstacles in your learning journey due to your neurodiversity? How have you overcome them?

Sometimes I don’t understand instructions as I can interpret several different meanings from the same statement. I often have to ask questions to check my interpretation and to make sure I understood correctly. However, I worry that this can come across like I’m being difficult.

“Now since becoming aware of my Autism, and making my employers aware, I feel like I can be free to ask questions or have explanations for things as people understand the reason behind it.”

💜 In what ways has the CFGdegree accommodated neurodivergent individuals? Can you expand on your experience(s) with that?

I was contacted to be told that I had extra time for my assessments. This proactive action really impressed me (I couldn’t even remember telling CFG I was neurodivergent!).

I never needed to use the extra time but it took a lot of pressure off me just knowing that I had it, and it was such a smooth process.

It’s also handy being able to use Slack as I was able to ask questions if I needed further clarification.

📖 How did you manage the CFGdegree schedule and workload?

I’m not going to lie, it was very tough. I would rush home from work and barely have time to download the materials before the class started. Then on weekends, I would be doing homework and coursework. But the thought of getting the job I wanted really helped me push through, and it was all over very quickly. I can’t even remember much of it now!

“Always make sure you declare. Do not be scared or embarrassed. I had so many misunderstandings before I was diagnosed.”

💫 Is there anything you wish you knew before applying for the CFGdegree as a neurodivergent learner?

No, it was a very smooth process. I would just encourage people to make sure you make your declaration so you can be supported.

🧠 What changes (if any) have you made in your organisation/current role to make it more neurodivergent-friendly?

After sitting through Autism awareness training and thinking “I know all of this” and scoring 100% on all of the tests (obviously!) I decided to offer my help in the training. There were so many ‘examples’ given that have happened to me, that I could have told a story about everything. The trainer welcomed this and agreed it helps people to understand from my point of view, so I am now joining him in the training to share my experiences.

💡What advice would you give to other neurodivergent individuals who are thinking of pursuing a tech career?

Always make sure you declare. Do not be scared or embarrassed. I had so many misunderstandings before I was diagnosed. Now since becoming aware of my Autism, and making my employers aware, I feel like I can be free to ask questions or have explanations for things as people understand the reason behind it. You can also get other adjustments that can help, such as assistive technology.

Thank you to Claire for sharing her insights on neurodiversity in tech, as well as her CFGdegree experience! Click here for more Code First Girls community stories and blogs! 🤩

Find out more about the CFGdegree here!