Test Drive Turned Tech Career: How a Curious Former Accountant Became a Software Developer

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Clare Liu got her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Sydney. She worked as an accountant for a while, realized it wasn’t for her, and switched to graphic design — which she ultimately decided wasn’t for her either. 

On a whim, she looked into The Coding Boot Camp at the University of Sydney because she wanted to try something new. She enrolled in the course that began in February 2020, right before the pandemic, and she hasn’t looked back since. 

Easing into coding 

Clare’s experience in graphic design had already familiarized her with some software, using tools like Photoshop to complete many of her projects. Aside from that, she didn’t have any experience with creating things for the web. 

“Before I started the boot camp, it was just something I wanted to try,” she said. “But then when I started coding, I realized I was learning very quickly and it gave me confidence that this was something I’m actually quite good at.”

Clare felt the first few weeks of the boot camp were pretty easy, which reassured her that enrolling was the right choice. It also kept her interested — and she knew it was something she wanted to continue pursuing. 

“After about a month, things got more challenging,” she said. “But I never felt trapped or like there was nowhere for me to go. I like solving problems, and when I’m presented with one, I know that there’s an answer and I’m interested in finding it.”

The boot camp environment was very supportive, and Clare was never afraid of approaching anyone with questions. 

“We had the trainers, tutors, and support staff, so if I ever had a problem with something coding related, I knew who to go to. And, if I was struggling with anything else, I had a full support team to lean on,” she said. 

Kickstarting a coding career 

A month into the boot camp, Clare got an internship as a front end web developer for YesVR, a company that created the world’s first virtual reality educational experience. Learning new concepts at the boot camp and working in a new role at the same time was somewhat difficult for Clare.

“It was challenging in terms of the things I was asked to do,” she said. “At the time, I didn’t have complete knowledge of what I was doing, but since it was an internship there was room for learning,” she said. “And, I knew I was going to learn these concepts in the boot camp — I just hadn’t yet.”

Clare was able to get through the boot camp and, after completing the program, she enrolled in a university program to study computer science. She was in search of a part-time job to fill her free time, and one of her boot camp trainers informed her that his company was hiring. 

Because of this connection, Clare is currently a software developer for Drive On Finance, a loan and vehicle finance solution company based out of Sydney, Australia. Working alongside her former boot camp trainer, she’s putting her new skills into practice. 

“I came to Australia five years ago for school, and my original plan was to go back to my home in China after I finished,” she said. “But I realized I like the laid back, relaxed lifestyle here. Plus, although there are many opportunities for women in the IT industry in China, it’s hard to maintain a work/life balance here.” 

Clare hopes to work in the software industry long-term, and she has aspirations of working with bigger companies in Australia. Combining her past work experience and boot camp knowledge,  she fulfills her developer role better than she could’ve imagined.

“I learned both valuable technical skills and communications skills,” she said. “I expected to learn how to code at the boot camp, but we had to do so many project presentations and work with our classmates and trainers — which was very beneficial — especially as an international student.”

Interested in breaking into the tech industry? Explore the boot camps offered by the University of Sydney in coding, cybersecurity, and fintech. 

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