Zaizi Employee Maria

Tech apprenticeship: A change of career direction at Zaizi

Our software developer explains how she made the decision to move from a career in law into the brave new world of software development through a tech apprenticeship.

The start of 2020 found me in an interesting position. I had spent the past 8 years working towards the goal of becoming a criminal law barrister. Several years of being a paralegal had given me a good idea about what I could expect from my future career and the professional culture I was joining. And I was growing increasingly doubtful about whether that was the right path for me.

After leaving my job at a criminal defence firm, I tried to gather experience to move towards the technology sector as a legal professional. My first temp paralegal role in tech opened my eyes to a culture and professional environment that just… felt right. That’s when I also fell in love with the technical aspects of the industry. Then the pandemic came along. Finding myself unemployed again, I needed to find  ways to spend my time. Looking to develop new skills, I turned to free online coding courses and the organisation Code First Girls. HTML and CSS, then Javascript, then Python. I was hooked! 

Many job interviews later, I came across Zaizi’s apprenticeship scheme and my complete change of career direction began.

Beginning my tech apprenticeship

Zaizi are partners with the Makers Academy, a London-based software development bootcamp. My apprenticeship journey began with their Makers Coding Bootcamp. It was an intense 12 weeks of learning designed to prepare me for a job at Zaizi. Those weeks involved delving into technologies, languages and tools like git, Ruby, databases, Node.js, Python and many more. I also learned about ways of work like pair programming, team collaboration, planning, design, testing etc. It was a whirlwind of information and training and I found myself working harder than I had ever done before.

Having completed my final project at the bootcamp I was ready to join the company. The rest of my apprenticeship would involve learning while working. I wrote my portfolio, took a handful of exams and worked on my “synoptic project” – the final apprenticeship piece of work where one has to design, build and test an application from scratch according to a specification. Then I started joining Zaizi projects – initially internal, then a client project in which I have happily remained until today. I’m currently working as a backend developer, helping to build a portal for the submission and analysis of documents.

Portfolio work was hard. I had to write up nearly every task I completed and submit back to Makers for feedback and approval – complete with screenshots. This would form my final portfolio submission to the British Computer Society, the awarding body of my apprenticeship. This “on the job” training took up the next 14 months of the tech apprenticeship. It felt like full-time work and full-time studying, both at once. But Zaizi’s work culture made the process easier. Everyone was enthusiastically supportive of my journey.

From tech apprenticeship to tech career…

When interviewers state to you during the hiring process that the best thing about a company is its people, you might be tempted to think that it’s just their way of trying to get you on board. When it came to Zaizi however, that statement was absolutely true! My colleagues have been nothing but generous with their time. They’ve been willing to share knowledge and experience and generally cheer me on while I was completing my apprenticeship milestones.

Come the end of my apprenticeship in July 2022 I had already received a promotion to Junior Software Developer and taken a prominent role within my project with the support of my teammates. So completing the apprenticeship with a distinction was truly the cherry on top of an amazing adventure!

Looking back at the past few years and the journey I have gone through, I can safely say it has been more than a career changing experience. My life overall has been transformed by joining a profession I am passionate about, and feel fulfilled by.

Are you looking for a new job – or a whole new career? At Zaizi we’re always hiring – check out our open roles.