June Spartan of the Month: Evie Skinner24/07/2019
“Evie’s story is a great one. Previously focused on a career in teaching, Evie made the brave decision to change careers and re-train in a completely new discipline. Evie knew that with hard work and dedication she could really make an impact through her work in the IT sector. Be it in her technical training, day-to-day job or her extracurricular work activities, Evie has thrown herself into everything and excelled. She is a standout name from our list of Spartan graduates and a prime example of why more intelligent, committed and engaging women should consider a career in tech.”
Chris White, Sales Director at Sparta Global
Congratulations for being named Spartan of the Month! How does it feel?
It feels marvelous and I am deeply grateful to be recognised for my hard work!
Had you always been focused on pursuing a technology career?
I studied a BA (Hons) in French and Arabic at Durham University. I then decided I wanted to start teaching, subsequently spending three months studying a Modern Languages PGCE at Newcastle University.
I am not ashamed to admit that, whilst it was an incredibly valuable experience, doing teacher training was the most stressful experience of my life. I was working constantly and on those rare occasions where I was not, I was still thinking about work. Needless to say, I dropped out of the training and found myself unemployed!
I knew I wanted a career that would give me a sensible work/life balance and I had met software engineers whilst travelling several years before who seemed to have found that happy medium. I started
teaching myself to code and realised that it was a lot more creative than I had previously assumed. I also realised I was quite good at it! This gave me the confidence to start applying for junior roles, and eventually I found the opportunity at Sparta.
I joined the Richmond Academy in early 2017 and took up a place on the SDET course to become an SDET/test automation engineer. In April 2017 - just a few months after joining the Academy - I had graduated and was waiting for my first placement.
What advice would you give to a candidate on their first day at the Academy?
Hello fresh Spartans! Firstly, my advice would be to save up some money before starting the course. I spent a month working in my hometown beforehand, since I knew I was going to have to pay London rent during the course!
Secondly, try your best to get as much sleep as possible! You are going to spend at least seven hours a day in that training room or doing homework looking at a screen, so if you can, I recommend that you avoid looking at a screen again during your down time. Get an early night or read a book instead, and you will reap the benefits.
Finally, leave your ego at the door: I have seen some Spartans come through the Academy who might have completed Computer Science or Game Development degrees before coming to the course, and they sometimes act as if they are already the finished product. Your technical skills are worth nothing if you do not have the interpersonal skills to market them well! You are here to learn so take every opportunity to do so, both within the Academy and in London's wider tech community too.
When they graduate, how should Spartans make the most of being on client assignment?
Try to propagate an Agile mindset everywhere. If you are assigned to an Agile project, be the example of the benefits of Agile. If you are assigned to a Waterfall project, don't be shy to constructively and professionally criticise that project when you see areas for improvement.
If you are struggling to find opportunities to show your worth, then make up your own. I started a Meditation Club precisely for this reason when I joined Canada Life. Suggest something or start something on the client site yourself. The fact that you have shown a bit of a DIY/self-starting personality will go a very long way.
What are you most proud of achieving since joining Sparta Global?
I am fortunate to have had several achievements during my time with Sparta, but the one that warms my heart the most is having built my game in week four of my training. This was a turning point and when I started to actually see myself as a competent and deserving software engineer.
Would you recommend Sparta Global to other graduates, if so – why?
I would recommend Sparta to other graduates, whatever their degree discipline. Sparta can train you to a very respectable level, get you a foot in the door at a top company, and enable you to gain some excellent experience.
With great enthusiasm I would encourage others to do this, because the opportunities a person can access in a tech career are unparalleled elsewhere. I say that in terms of employee benefits, salary level, and the general culture of software engineers. If you are creative, resourceful and like a challenge, then coding is definitely for you!