From construction consultant to software developer


“I am finally enjoying my work!”

Hi, I’m Robert. I have a background in construction, but dared to make the switch to IT at the right time in my career. This has done me a lot of good, which I’d love to tell you more about. Maybe it will help you in your path to IT!

My journey began with the study construction in Zwolle. Here I noticed very quickly that I was an outlier in that course. Most of my peers really had a passion for construction. I didn’t feel that passion. But well, I started the study, so I finished it. Albeit with some study delay.

After my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to develop further. Therefore, I moved to Delft, where I took a master’s degree in management and consultancy. The master’s was also my first introduction to programming.

I took an introductory course in Python through my university because I knew that this programming language is quite accessible. For my thesis, I then also started programming in Python to analyze large amounts of data. I researched the ideal replacement time for large machines. In Python I examined all kinds of data collected about the machines to come up with an automated model that could predict the most advantageous time to replace old machines. That was super interesting and educational to do.

What I like about this is that I can get totally absorbed in the work. You are trying little things all the time. Nine times out of ten it goes wrong, but suddenly your code is working, and that gives you a tremendous thrill. It really is like a puzzle.

I went into construction after my master’s anyway because I had a lot of knowledge about that, but I did continue programming in my spare time. I taught myself some JavaScript tinkering with websites. This way I got quite a broad basic knowledge of programming.

In my job then, I was mostly doing project management, going through contracts and things like that. In construction, it’s always about big projects, where a lot of people are working on them and you’re pretty far away from what’s actually happening. That’s a very big contrast to programming, where you see immediate results from your own work and can really bend something to your will.

So I still chose to make the career switch to IT and get my start as a software developer. That was exciting, because in construction I had studied and already had several years of work experience, while in IT I had to start all over again from the beginning. But I am still very glad that I did eventually make that choice.

I am finally enjoying my work. I’ve never felt that way before.”

What appealed to me about Young_Coders was the collaboration from Young_Coders with large organizations where you have a lot of opportunities for further development. In addition, this traineeship is really focused on programming, which is what I wanted to develop in.

At the beginning, it took some getting used to. ‘Did I make the right choice,’ ‘Do I know enough,’ those kinds of doubts came up. But I was very quickly absorbed into the team at my client and actually rolled in very quickly. The first two months I mostly tinkered with the front-end of existing applications, but then I started to really develop new applications, which is what I like best. Working with your team in sprints to slowly build toward something. I also regularly work with other Young_Coders Challengers at my client. When I started there I got to know Challengers who were already working there, and now I myself am mentoring a new Young_Coders challenger who will take over a project from me. The mutual click with each other is very good. It is nice that there are more juniors in the same boat and that you are not the only developer coming from a different study background.

That bond was also very much strengthened during my bootcamp at Young_Coders. In the bootcamp you will build an application with your group, under the guidance of an experienced coach. You learn from each other and from your coach and work toward a practical end product in a very short time. Our coach Frenk was very enthusiastic and really got us thinking. He was not so much teaching, but more importantly as a discussion leader, he was stimulating us to think about programming on a deeper level. I still use the knowledge gained from the bootcamp daily in practice. As in the bootcamp, I work a lot with Python and React.

But there is a lot involved besides programming, you know. Meetings, customer contact and code documentation. Especially the latter is not the most fun job, but very important when you develop yourself from hobby programmer to professional developer and develop software in a team with colleagues. But I still like the programming itself the most.  I can get all caught up in that and before you know it, the work day is over.

Recognizable? If you notice about yourself that you really enjoy programming and that you spend your free time doing it, that’s actually enough reason to make the career switch! If you also find that you don’t feel quite right in your current job, as I did, then I really recommend making the switch. Take that leap of faith and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can develop into a professional developer.

If you are considering an IT traineeship, know that Young_Coders is the place to be. What I personally really appreciated was the short lines of communication and personal contact. If I had a question I almost always got an answer the same day and there was a nice informal relationship. Young_Coders is really involved with the Challengers, which was really a big advantage in my career switch.

For anyone considering a career switch to IT, I can only recommend it!