3 Ways to Break Into the Leeds Tech Industry

· Abigail Beall · Business

There’s no defined route into a tech career.

BJSS

Whether you’re still at school, a recent university graduate or considering a change in career, it’s never too late to get into tech…

There is no single, defined route into a technology career. Take Lianne Potter, Information Security Transformation Manager at Covea, for example. She began her route into tech when she read about Sky’s Get Into Tech course, here on Leeds-List, in 2017. “I knew nothing about the industry, but the profile made me want to attend because it sounded so exciting,” she told us. “Two years later, and I’m doing it.”

After being made redundant, Lianne used a combination of free online courses and YouTube to teach herself the basics of coding. It took her 5 months of full-time self-learning, but it was all worth it, because she landed a job at NHS Digital before moving into her current role at Covea. Of course, that’s not the only way to get into tech though, you’ve got options.

Coding courses

For those with no experience in coding, a coding bootcamp could be the answer. Northcoders offer intensive courses that teach you to code from scratch in just 12 weeks. They play an active role in helping graduates secure jobs by helping to arrange interviews, giving CV workshops and bringing businesses in for talks during the course. Thanks to their great relationships with local tech businesses, 96 percent of their grads now work as software developers, with an average starting salary of £25,000.

For those looking for something a little less intense, the University of Leeds and Institute of Coding offer an online course called Computer Programming for Everyone. Hosted by FutureLearn, it’s totally free, completely online and only takes four hours, spread over two weeks. It will teach you why coding is important and what software developers do, while giving you a basic understanding of writing code. Afterwards, you can take on An Introduction to Coding and Design, a free six-week course that teaches you how to create a mobile app.

Women have another option. Sky launched Get Into Tech to help get more women into tech. It’s completely free, you don’t need any experience and it will kit you out with the skills you need to be a software developer. Designed to fit around your life, this 14-week evening course covers project management, databases, software development and programming.

Degrees

Leeds Beckett University Computer Science Course

Credit: Justin Slee

You don’t always need a degree to get into tech, but it’s a great place to start. The question is, what will you study? If you want to keep your options open, go for one of the more diverse courses. Leeds Beckett, the University of Leeds and Leeds Trinity all offer degrees in computer sciences. Not only will you get a solid understanding of computer programming, but they’ll help you get your foot on the ladder through industry partnerships, work placements and real-life projects.

And if you choose to find your speciality while you study, you can always add a masters to your belt. These one-year courses follow your degree and allow you to delve deeper into your chosen subject. For example, you could do the Advanced Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) MSc at the University of Leeds. It covers everything from evolutionary models to qualitative reasoning, and you’ll be taught, not just by academics, but also by industry experts.

Alternatively, you can work directly towards a specific career right from the start. From data science to computer security and artificial intelligence, there are loads of courses to choose from. You can even study Games Design at Leeds Beckett University. Alongside software development, you’ll learn about animation, interactive environments and 3D visualisation. This course offers the option to complete a sandwich year, so you can take a year out and get paid to work in the industry.

Graduate Schemes

BJSS Academy Graduate Scheme

Every year, the big tech companies recruit a new cohort of trainees for their graduates schemes. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, but more than that, it lets you test drive different career tracks, so you can decide what you want to do. In Leeds, just a few of the companies offering technology graduate schemes include Sky, BT and Asda.

NHS Digital offers a two-year graduate scheme made up of four six-month placements. You could work in the software development team creating NHS websites, in the data science team working on gleaning insight from their vast datasets or in the user-centred design team helping out with user research. Throughout the scheme, graduates learn leadership and management skills that will help them throughout their career.

The BJSS Academy works in much the same way. You’ll learn from subject-matter experts across the business, giving you a chance to experience the whole solution-delivery lifestyle. From here, you’ll move into more specialised fields, depending on your strengths, weaknesses and interests. And the best bit? You don’t need a STEM degree to get in, you just need a passion for IT.

Cover image credit BJSS.