Bex Longhurst studied Computer Science at Lincoln College. Now employed as a Software Architect for IBM, Bex agreed to speak to our Alumni Team about her experiences of college and how they helped her get where she is today and changed her misconceptions about working in the tech industry being all about coding.
“I always knew that I liked computers and technology,” she said, “but always assumed it meant that I had to be cut out for a life of programming.
“I started the Computer Science course with zero coding experience, and learnt the basics of programming whilst on the course,” she said. “Lincoln College provides other modules alongside the programming module, so it allowed me to see that there are other paths I could go down other than coding. Of course, it made up a substantial amount of the course, but this knowledge was key when pursuing a role in the future, which was not 100% full-throttle coding.”
Bex explained how college helped prepare her for her career in key ways.
“At college we were mostly working in teams such as group projects,” she said. “It is very reflective of the real world working environment. You cannot avoid working with other people, even as a developer, and you need to be able to recognise different skill types and what drives other people to do what they do. Respect and communication is also key.”
She also outlined her journey after getting her college qualification.
“After graduation, I worked in a technical support call centre for about two years, so that I could pay off my debts,” she said. “I then started to apply for graduate roles, and managed to get a position as a Junior Developer, actually working inside the software I used to technically support in previous years.
“I worked there for two more years as a Junior Developer in an agile/SCRUM environment, and then more recently, secured a Software Architect role at IBM, which is less coding, and more creative thinking.
“My proudest career moment so far is designing the entire user experience, and user interface, of an iOS/Android app which is to be used by over a quarter of a million parents in the UK,” she said.
“At first it was a challenge accepting that I wasn't the strongest coder in the room, and that my brain doesn't necessarily work in the same way that the other developers did,” she said. “ I struggled to grasp “back-end” concepts, but would excel with visual front-end concepts. I had to make a big decision to change the role I was in, to play to my strengths.”
Now Bex wants to be a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or run her own web development business, perhaps mentoring fresh Computer Science graduates.
Finally, Bex had some words of wisdom to share with other hoping to enter her industry.
“If you don't like coding, don't worry! There are plenty of computer science career opportunities that are not 100% code related (and still very well paid!). If you do like coding, however, and you're good at what you do, then you will be snapped up very quickly. The developer job market is buzzing, and is a very exciting, fast-paced, industry to join.”