All change

I called time on my legal career in the summer of 2020. In theory, I had it all. I was a Senior Associate in an international law firm, with partnership prospects within a year or so. The job was intellectually demanding, and the salary was good. I worked with fantastic people in a progressive firm that looked after its staff. I’d even met my fiancée at work.

Truth be told, however, I’d been miserable in my job for a long time. Long hours, stress and a poor work-life balance were taking their toll. I’d always been more interested in science and technology but fell into law following some poor career decisions at the tender age of 16. Despite reality quickly dawning on me during my first term at university that perhaps I wasn’t going to enjoy law as much as I imagined, I stuck with it — thanks to a certain degree of stubbornness.

This year, though, a combination of a global pandemic, a bout of job-related ill-health, voluntary redundancy, the ever-looming reality of a certain milestone birthday, and a realisation that if I’m going to spend the next 25 years working then it had better be doing something I enjoy, inspired me to make some serious changes.

I’ve always been a bit of a computer geek. I still have fond memories of my Amstrad CPC464, state-of-the-art in the mid-’80s with a whopping 64k of RAM, and later of learning to take my PC apart (and, crucially, put it back together again with no leftover parts) to upgrade components. Even now, my YouTube feed is full of videos about science, engineering and computers. In my last few months in my previous job, I had the chance to build a program using Excel that would work out whether a person is UK-resident for tax purposes. Although rudimentary, it was successful, and cut the time it would take to complete that work from an hour or more to mere minutes.

I think at that moment, I knew I’d caught the software development bug.

So here I am — tomorrow I start the full-time software development course at Makers Academy. It’s a 12-week intensive bootcamp, after which I should be ready to take my first steps in a new career. Over the last few months, I’ve been learning as much as I can about this still unfamiliar world. I’ve taken online courses, including the Harvard CS50 Introduction to Computer Science course; I’ve learned to touch-type (surely that’ll come in handy); I have several coding and CS textbooks sat on my shelves, which I’m slowly working through; and I’m grinding my way up the codewars rankings to practice Ruby, which is the main language used on the course.

I’ll admit to being more than a little scared. It’s a big decision to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. But as the saying goes, you only live once…

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