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I’m a software engineer with no STEM background. AMA

10 replies

LateAtTate · 13/06/2021 11:26

Been in this field for a few years, joined a large company straight out of uni (in a developer role) and then moved into a becoming a developer. Ask away 🙂

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Turmerictolly · 13/06/2021 11:27

Interesting. How did you get the job? What are you paid please? What was the title of your degree?

ComeDoonTheStairs · 14/06/2021 07:59

I am also curious about what your university degree is in? What made you decide to take the software engineering job if that isn't what you studied?

LateAtTate · 14/06/2021 21:03


Interesting. How did you get the job? What are you paid please? What was the title of your degree?

I was hired onto a graduate scheme for non-technical people (quite a few of these going around). Traditionally people who develop apps and tech support are separate but my boss thought it’d be a good idea for me to do some programming to lessen the load on the developers... turns out I’m not half bad 😃
My actual salary is about 5K more than the national average. My degree was in accounting
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LateAtTate · 14/06/2021 21:20


I am also curious about what your university degree is in? What made you decide to take the software engineering job if that isn't what you studied?

My university had free programming courses (CodeFirst girls, highly recommended) and I realised it was more interesting.
What I realised was that a lot of people were in computer science / engineering degree because of early exposure. Almost every single one of my peers had parents who were engineers or got their first computer at 5. The media always portrays programmers as some sort of nerdy genius ( a lot of them are nerdy 😂) but I’ve come to realise that it’s just the privilege of having early exposure. They’re not particularly smarter than anybody else.

Also a lot of people don’t realise the world of technology is very, shall we say, political. People think that it’s all very scientific and rigorous. But programming languages grow based on how many people like it enough to spend their spare time improving it. A bit like being the popular kid in kindergarten.there’s no single right way to do anything so it takes a lot of discussion, debate and precise coordination. Skills which my business degree made me impeccable at. In fact anybody who’s a brilliant lone programmer will fail, despite what the media portrays. More than any other profession it requires a sense of community and teamwork.
Having said that as technology grows more complex so does the need for managing it. A lot of developers don’t like leading teams. There’s a big gap for people with both the technical and business skills. And that’s what I’m hoping to fill! :D

Sorry for the essay but I’m very passionate about this
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LateAtTate · 14/06/2021 21:22

Also sorry my OP has an error - my first job wasn’t as a developer!

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Kleptronic · 14/06/2021 21:33

Hey OP me too, I did Eng Lit for a first degree. Great how anyone can do it if they have the aptitude and opportunity :)

Smoomins · 15/06/2021 17:58


I would really like to become a software engineer. I have a humanities degree and lots of experience in the media field, however I would like a job with higher earning potential and the ability to work outside of London. I have been looking at courses with General Assembly, do you really think it is really possible to get a job at the end of one of these courses?

If I put in some time learning at home, which free resources would you recommend? And which languages would I learn?

I am just ok at maths - passed all my exams etc - do you think it's worth doing even with this background? I am interested in computers and can always find a solution to whatever technical challenge I'm facing with very basic stuff (modding the sims etc lol) just by googling around, which I hear is the way people do it

LateAtTate · 15/06/2021 20:53

@Kleptronic that’s good to hear! How long have you been in the industry and what’s your job titleb(e.g Python developer, dev OP’s engineer)?
I too have a flair for languages (I’d have gone to uni to do English lit except that I received a scholarship for accounting). It’s amazing how similar patterns apply 😂

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LateAtTate · 15/06/2021 21:53


  1. In terms of mathematics algebra, set theory and mathematical logic are very important. If you hated these you won't be a very good programmer as there will be variables all over the place, lots of detailed logic etc.
    I'd suggest googling these two concepts -pointers and recursion. If you understand these then you won't have any issues :)

    A caveat - at higher level computer science hard mathematics is definitely required, however the majority of programmers won't be this advanced. Things that you will need like data structures and algorithms are easy enough to self study and there are lots of free courses.

  2. The only bootcamp i have experience with is Code First girls (whose instructors - professional devs were graduates themselves). However some things to look out for - selectiveness (don't take a bootcamp which accepts anybody who can pay), employer track record (how many have they placed in actual developer jobs through their career center and what were their backgrounds as a lot of people with some background do bootcamps as well). There are a lot of women only programs sponsored by companies looking to widen team diversity so those are worth a shot.

  3. If you want to work towards employability ASAP then you want to aim for web development. HTML, CSS and Javascript are key skills. This is also what all bootcamps will teach you(alongside other things like algortithms, databases etc). Fullstack Open and Project Odin are good resources.

    If you want to start with a programming language that's intuitive and close to English then learn Python. Colt Steele's Ultimate Python Bootcamp on Udemy is the best resource I have found (not free, but very cheap to buy). Otherwise there are lots of resources like FreeCodeCamp etc.

    Reddit has a lot of resources and advice for beginners, so I'd suggest looking on there as well for suggestions. It has been a lifesaver :)
OP posts:
AlisonER · 02/11/2021 19:43

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