Coding, Career Changes, and Women in Tech

Women in tech are still woefully underrepresented – in the UK only one in six tech specialists are women – but at Michael Bell we work differently.   

Meet Sam, our web developer.

Sam grew up in a world where IT at school meant learning to use Powerpoint and Excel. Though she was hooked on computer games, the idea of a job in tech was never mentioned.

What did you want to be growing up?

I always wanted to be a teacher – I really enjoy learning new things so I wanted a profession that would keep challenging me. It wasn’t a direct route though, as I studied classics at university before teaching maths.

When did your interest in tech start?

When I was a kid I remember having a shared computer and taking it in turns to play games. Just simple things like solitaire and minesweeper.  I was hooked. My favourite website for a long time was ‘Stumble Upon’ – press a button and you’d be taken to a random website based on your interests. There was so much cool stuff out there!

But it didn’t occur to me that I could have a job in tech.

At school IT was learning how to use Powerpoint and Excel. I had no idea how websites were made, and coding was that thing they did in the Matrix with that scary black screen with all that green writing. It seemed completely inaccessible.

What made you decide to change careers ?

I only realised that coding was an option for me when I met a web developer. Actually, when they told me they were a web developer, I had no idea what that meant. 

So I went onto Codecademy , found a course on HTML, and then fell completely in love with coding. Joining Codebar Brighton was exactly what I needed. I met other developers and people like me who were learning.  

I built websites just for fun, mostly fake businesses for my cat! But building myself a portfolio meant I could start looking for clients for freelance work, or an agency to join.

What was your first job as a developer ?

My job at Michael Bell One is my first as a web developer. I had been keeping an eye out on Wired Sussex for jobs, but when I  saw the vacancy at Michael Bell One I didn’t feel ready. A friend posted a link to the job on their Facebook page – it turned out I knew someone who worked in the office next door. She encouraged me to apply and I was thrilled to be offered an interview.

What do you enjoy about being a developer ?

The profession is constantly changing and has such a broad range of challenges. One day I might be editing databases, the next I can be animating a logo. 

Each bespoke website we build is different, maybe using a different CMS but always with a different focus. We’ve created websites for estate agents, caterers, insurance companies, arts and crafts shops, online newspapers, and charities.  No two designs are ever the same.

As technology and trends keep moving, we’re able to offer more and more cool things. I’m really enjoying creating micro interactions at the moment. Moody Sewage, for example, is full of fun little animations which happen when you hover over links!

Moody Sewage - New Homepage


Any advice you’d give to other women who’d love to get into development ?  

There’s a growing community of women in tech. Check out She Says – an inspiring community of women, often offering events where you can meet other women in your industry. 

I‘d recommend Codebar to anyone starting to learn to code, they pair up people in the industry with people starting out for coaching sessions. The idea is it helps underrepresented people get into tech. It’s such a good way to learn to code, and meet people locally in the industry!

If you’re interested in web development and would like to work with a forward thinking company get in touch, we’d love to chat.