From Carpenter to Coder

19th April 2016

Interviewed by Neil Rogers

Joel Brennan from Jersey

Joel Brennan.

Joel Brennan — a Local Digital Hero.

37 year old Joel Brennan is yet another perfect example of how a short ‘taster course’ into the world of coding can change an entire career path. Joel was working as a qualified carpenter when he attended a coding course in the spring of 2014. “After 15 years I was growing increasingly frustrated with my job as a chippy,” the modest, quite-spoken Joel says, “the recession was starting to hit and work had become sporadic to say the least.”

And the winner is…

Joel decided to take the initiative and paid a visit to the local Career Advisors . From there he was gently nudged in the direction of his first ever coding course. Little did he suspect that just over a year later, Joel would be receiving a prize in a competition designed to showcase the positive influence National Coding Week can have on people’s lives. “I never dreamed I was going to win,” says Joel with an almost bashful smile, “it was a huge surprise.”

As winner of the 2015 National Coding Week competition, Joel received a ZTE Blade S6 smart phone courtesy of JT, the enthusiastic sponsor of National Coding Week.

Spreading the word.

JT’s Marketing and Brand Manager, Tamara O’Brien said at the time, “It is a pleasure to support National Coding Week which spreads the message across the country about the advantages that can be gained by people of all ages through learning new digital skills.”

And National Coding Week co-founder Richard Rolfe added, “I’m delighted we have found the winner of this competition in Jersey where the concept of National Coding Week was born and where a successful digital industry is emerging.”

Local Digital Hero and Family Man.

“I think if you are passionate about the subject and willing to learn new things it’s never too late.”

But for Joel, it’s not just about the prize. Dipping his toe into the digital world gave him the opportunity to ‘display his passion’ and prove his eagerness to learn. In the context of the coding course, Joel took part in workshops and also met with industry leaders. Soon he’d secured an internship with a local company. “The work experience was fantastic,” says Joel, “it gave me a chance to see how the digital industry worked from the inside.”

Joel now works as a full-time Junior Web Developer and he’s delighted to be doing a job he thoroughly enjoys. He’s also quick to acknowledge the encouragement he’s received since first taking part on the course. “The professional digital community have been very supportive and helpful. I think if you are passionate about the subject and willing to learn new things it’s never too late.”

What lessons have your learnt regarding digital skills / working in the digital sector?

I have learnt that I should not be afraid of letting others know my desire to learn, and asking for help. All of the people I have met and worked with have been all too happy to offer guidance, advice and direction.

I have learnt that learning Coding / Programming is not easy, but also that with a bit of patience and persistence learning enough of the basics to get started is not the most difficult thing in the world either.

I have learnt that It is essential to have a passion for learning this subject, as in my limited experience so far I have learned a great deal, and I can never stop learning if I wish to improve.

Three tips for people who want to get into it?

If you really want to get into it, try to meet somebody who works in digital and ask them for advice, they will be able to offer some great insights into how you can get started with learning.

Keep an eye out and try to attend any events or courses, you can learn loads and meet people who can set you straight.

If you are not sure about what’s best to be learning, just go for it anyway and start learning about something! I don’t think it will do any harm until someone can help you find more direction.

National Coding Week 2016

“The aim of National Coding Week is to give adults the opportunity to learn some digital skills.”

We want to create taster sessions for parents, teachers, business leaders, school leavers, the unemployed, people with autism or those who have retired. It’s open to everyone!

We are not expecting people to become coders after one session! For many people it takes years of practice and experience but these taster sessions can be the first step on a journey into a digital business or digital career.

Take part in this year’s National Coding Week on 19th September 2016… where will code take you?