How to get a job as an engineer without a computer science degree

(Max White) #1

Our lovely engineers share how they got hired without having technology degrees.

Do any of you have similar stories or advice to give to budding developers?

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#2

I enjoy these behind the scene type posts - Most of the time they are very informative.

The only thing I’d say, and this crosses over with the “experimenting with tone of voice” thread on the Monzo money tips page, is that I’d try and avoid uneccesary language if at all possible.

I’m not offended (I actually found it quite amusing), but you can bet someone will be - Not to mention if the community said it, we’d be flagged and banned :joy:

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(Marcus Nailor, Hot Coral Detective) #3

Only skimmed through it quickly but looks fantastic on the surface! :blush:

I guess I’m on the right lines with what I’m currently doing :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: my language is Python (great to work with) I think picking a project of my own to do from the ground up instead of taking over work from an existing project would be a nice step to take :grin:

Looking forward to reading this post in more detail when I get home :open_book:

1 Like
(Simon Riddle) #4

I can’t speak for any software engineers, however I can speak for network engineering positions.

First things first; make sure you have good computer skills - you don’t want to be that person which doesn’t know how to install memory into a PC but can configure a router. The CompTIA A+ certification is great for this.

Secondly; pick a vendor. The biggest and most in demand vendor at this moment in time is Cisco. Cisco offer various certifications, however I would start with CCNA Routing & Switching. Make sure you have a good fundamental routing and switching knowledge before specializing as that’s crucial for knowing how networks work. Use certifications to leverage the fact you did not go to university.

Lastly; enjoy it, surround yourself with like minded individuals and follow your passion. Keep learning and help others around your grow and you’ll have extreme job satisfaction seeing those around you and yourself grow as people.

Sorry for the unsolicited advice, just my two cents.

#5

Couldn’t agree more… especially about picking a language and tackling a real-world challenge - however modest! When hiring I’d much rather someone has a portfolio of personal projects than lots of qualifications on paper.

It’s absolutely not important to have a Computer Science degree. But it really does help to understand what you would have learnt, and taking some time to learn the basics of computer architectures, language design, computational complexity etc. This kind of knowledge transcends any particular technology and will make you a better engineer - as will coaching anyone less experienced that yourself as soon as you feel able (e.g. codebar, coderdojo)

(Kieren) #6

I self taught myself IT from a young age, I completed ICT to A Level and then when I finished college I seemed worked. I was unsuccessful in finding an IT role so I took some admin roles to pay the bills.

A few years passed and I eventually landed a service desk role, built a reputation for myself and got promoted to a field/deskside engineer role. I remained in this role in Devon for 3-4 years before finding work in London, I had learnt so much through my IT roles that I found myself with 2 interviews in Central on the same day and was offered both on the day - naturally I took the more senior role.

I moved to London and carried out a Unified Communications Management role (Lync/Skype, Exchange, MS Teams etc) along with basic System Info. The company used shares infrastructure with its sister company which got acquired leaving the company I worked with with next to no systems so I again was promoted to a temporary design architect to design and build the company some independent infrastructure; once this was all in place I had “proven myself” and received a permanent promotion to the Infrastructure Engineer role which gave me free reign of all infrastructure, networking, VMware, Active directory, GPOs, Mobile Device Mnagement, the lot.

A few years passed and I decided to move on again, so I interviewed for a Senior Infrastructure Engineer role with a major UK MSP and was offered the role within an hour. I have been there 18 months now and am currently being sought after by many other infrastructure departments within the business as well as being constantly told “yiur knowledge implies you have been hear a decade, not a year and a half”

So this may seem like a blow of my own trumpet, but in fact it’s not - the moral of the story is to remind you that it’s what is in your head that the employer wants, not what’s on a piece of paper. If you can display relevant knowledge then you have as good a chance as anyone else!

4 Likes
#7

I’m a developer without a degree, I didn’t finish university as it wasn’t practical enough for me and I don’t enjoy the partying side of it.

I would say play around with both front and backend programming, find what feels more fun to you and then build accordingly e.g. pick a language and build something, a website or app etc. Put your projects up on github (good excuse to learn git). The amount of companies I’ve had who mentioned my github and personal projects is unexpected.

Immersing yourself in books, twitch streams, meetups also helps I think.

I’ve also found employers like the self taught aspect of those without a degree, of course university educated devs have this too but maybe not in the same way.

Once you have a couple of years under your belt commercially, people don’t even reference the fact you don’t have a degree

2 Likes
(Jack Kleeman) #8

Hi all. I wrote this article. I’d be happy to answer any questions

4 Likes
(Zain Patel) #9

Great article! Still sad that Monzo ignored my application, though! :’(

(Jamie) #10

Thanks for sharing!

I’ve been lost at where to start for a while, started watching a variety of videos on Udemy but kept getting ‘lost’ on where to go next. Some of the recommended resources looks great!

I’ll be starting with the ‘Introduction to Computer Science’ to build a base knowledge, then go from there. I’m currently working in an eCommerce role for a large UK retailer but have a keen interest in CS & building my coding knowledge to better my future career prospects.

Thanks again for the direction!

1 Like
(Joao) #11

I’m sure this article will be very popular but it does a disservice to the industry and to the people interested in it. After reading the title and the first paragraph the confusion between engineering, software engineering, computer science and programming is already obvious. But hey, the word diverse is there so it’s cool! Anyway, while I do agree that having a degree related to software or engineering is not necessary (may even be undesirable) to a lot of roles in this industry, it is surely a great advantage for some. Proper formal education in engineering, from personal experience, is a pain (sometimes a good one), and might seem a massive overkill for some entry level jobs, but the toolkit it provides shouldn’t be underestimated and I believe it becomes really relevant as one advances the engineering career path. It can be learned on the job, sure, but it will take time and method and a lot of effort. So please, do everyone a favor and stop calling everyone an engineer like recruiters do and making it sound like a fairytale just because demand is crazy high. While it might sound fancy it’s not for every person, not for every role, not for every career and it has nothing to do with diversity at this level.

#12

This is really interesting! Though my experience with back end and server maintence has put be off ever wanting to do that :smiley:

#13

To be fair, it’s become somewhat standard now that Software Engineer, Developer etc are interchangeable. Probably due to the recruiters but at this point I don’t think many are making the distinction between them.

(Kieran) #14

This is a really good read! Thanks for sharing!

#15

Just found this blog post since applying for a backend engineer position at Monzo :mondo:.

Really enjoyed the read and I’d like to think that I tick a lot of those boxes so :crossed_fingers:!

I’d also like to add (which I cannot stress enough) is to learn new skills/technologies in your spare time. Any down time I have at work I invest into training material which luckily the company I work for provides for us and insists we use.

1 Like
#16

I did Open University courses. They were only £450 each when I did them in the noughties, although they are now £1200 each I think, unfortunately.

Then it was just blind luck. I happened to see an advert for a developer position for a company near where I live. They said I didn’t have the experience for a full developer position but they had some support positions. So I attended an assessment day and took a test which I passed. Fortunately the job involved actually changing code so I eventually got a developer position there.

The OU IT exams were hand-written which everybody complained about, but it gave me an advantage in the test because I was used to writing code snippets by hand. I also attempted a few personal projects, including paying for a web host, reading books and websites on how to do things like inserting and retrieving data from a database using a web form. This helped me pass the assessment test as well.

I was also prepared to change languages. The OU taught in Java, but I thought that if I learned C# it would improve my job prospects. They have similar syntax and my first job was a C# job.