Week 12 — The end but just the beginning...

Dec 12th, 2018

As we draw to the close of our first Tech Returners cohort, we asked the group to present back their journeys and individual website projects they have created over the past 12 weeks...

The presentations were emotional but inspiring, with comments such as, "I am now more confident," or "I can do this," and "I am capable of learning again," or "no judgement," and "Like a kid in a sweet shop," were just amazing to hear. SJ, Rachel and Emma share their final thoughts:

SJ

I cannot believe I am writing my final Tech Returners blog. It's probably going to be a long(ish) one as I'm all emotional... apologies for that!

Applying for the Tech Returners course was something I knew I wanted to do, but at the same time it terrified me. Emotionally, I was in a fragile place. It sounds like a cliché, but I was the new mummy who had lost some confidence. To everyone around me I was in control but inside I was really worried about what I'd do next.

From the first week being part of Tech Returners, right up to this moment, I have to say it has been amazing. Every single session has brought me fresh information, skills and direction. I have gone away each week leaning something totally new. Engaging my brain again has made me feel superb.

I've learnt so much whilst being a Tech Returner, from basic coding in html, CSS and JavaScript to writing a CV that is current and doesn't contain all of my personal information like my address, driving license number and shoe size! I'm stoked to be able to say I now watch my washing machine spin around knowing that it has a micro-controller. And that Python is not just a type of snake but a language a developer could use!

The final week at Tech Returners involved each of us doing a presentation. I had to talk about the website I had created along with the course itself. It felt amazing to show everyone the website I had made and even when I talked about it I still couldn't believe it was mine! It was such a positive thing to do and it made me feel proud of myself. I loved hearing the others talk about their projects and experiences too. It was fabulous to see everyone's individuality, creativity and progress.

I sat and thought for a while about whether there was anything I didn't enjoy whilst on the course. As cheesy as this might sound, the only thing I haven't enjoyed is doubting myself. Now we have reached the end of this process, I have learnt to realise that I am capable of learning again. Being in my previous job for so long, I became comfortable in my line of work, but when I couldn't go back I didn't believe that I could do anything else. This course has allowed me to explore a new potential career path with no judgement. Most importantly I've learnt not to compare myself to everybody else, and to appreciate how much I have learnt and developed in this 12-week period. I wouldn't have been able to feel this way if I hadn't been on this Tech Returners journey.

So, I'll sign off by saying a huge thank you to Beckie and all the Tech Returners team for creating an inspiring, rewarding and inclusive course that has helped me be me again.

Emma

I can't believe it's the end of the course already! On one hand, it's great to look back over the last few months and see how far I've come but on the other, it's sad I won't be heading off to Media City at the crack of dawn anymore to learn something new.

Our final session was a lot of fun, even if it was a little sad. While giving my final presentation was stressful (I just don't like presentations), it was great to hear everyone else's and see how far we've all come. We may have different plans for going forward but every one of us has gained so much from Tech Returners so it was only right that we got gifts for Beckie, Laura, Kavita and the two James — I'm really glad they all liked them.

It was lovely to finish our final session with a special lunch (vegan in my case, yet another reason to miss Tech Returners!) and another MicroBit session. What better way to end the day than programming a MicroBit to detect the lab temperature and send out a tweet about it!

When I first applied to Tech Returners I didn't really know what to expect, I was looking for a free tech course that was long enough to properly get to grips with the things I learned. I had done a few one-day workshops and while they were great, it was a lot to absorb in a short space of time with no support afterwards. When I found Tech Returners, it sounded ideal – an 11-week course covering all of the introductory information that I was keen to learn but had always lacked. It turned out to be so much more...

From the first session, I realised I was really lucky to be accepted as a Tech Returner — I was finally getting the chance to learn HTML, CSS and Javascript after years of thinking about it but not being sure how to start or find the time to properly do so. Kavita and Laura have been fantastic, always patient and knowledgeable and keen to help. I'm grateful to have learned so much from both of them and our MicroBit sessions with James M were a real highlight. I definitely plan to keep exploring the world of hacking and making!

Beckie, James H and Laura couldn't have created a better course – I never felt overwhelmed or out of place and I have a clearer idea of what I want to do because of the Brown Bag lunch talks which gave me an insight into different tech roles. The Slack channel has been invaluable for sharing resources and support, I'll still have access to that even though we've finished so it feels like the support is always available and I won't be trying to navigate the tech industry alone.

I'm so glad I applied to Tech Returners and I'm more motivated than ever to get into the games industry — I've already started learning other programming languages and I'm looking at creating a portfolio and attending meet-ups/hackathons. I'd absolutely encourage anyone looking to get into tech to apply.

Rachel

Well, hard to believe that it's the final week of Tech Returners! This week we each gave a presentation, to show the websites we've made, talk about what we've learned and share what we've gained from the course. It was interesting to hear each of our different perspectives (all positive!) and see how far we've all come.

The websites included an online craft shop, homepages for a wedding celebration and a gardener, and a variety of prototypes showcasing different styles, layouts and colours. You wouldn't have believed we hadn't done any coding a few months ago!

I will miss my fellow Tech Returners each Wednesday. It has been great having the mutual support (not to mention a great laugh). We are off to do different things now – new jobs in tech, setting up businesses, a coding bootcamp (that's me) and further online study.

One thing we are all taking away with us is more confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

I am so grateful to Beckie Taylor, the founder and driving force of Tech Returners and her colleague James for their support; to our fabulous tutors Laura and Kavita; to James at EagleLabs Salford for the great sessions learning about microbits, and to Paul and Darren from EagleLabs Salford for kindly hosting us. It was truly a privilege to have been a Tech Returner.

It is not the end it is only the beginning of their journeys...