Many of us have felt like a career sea-change but often we don’t get around to acting on these feelings and doing something anything about it. But at the age of 40, Karoline Silva did. She’d been working in office administration for a number of years but decided she wanted to retrain in a different career which would challenger her and give her more opportunities in the long run.
She took action and started an intensive nine-month course at the Holberton School in Melbourne, Victoria, because it promised she’d have all the skills she needed to start work as an entry-level software engineer once she’d finished.
Karoline wasn’t totally sure this was possible – as she told us: “Going in, I thought, well, could I really call myself a software engineer just because I’ve spent nine months learning how to code? But now as we move through, I can see – OK – yeah. I’m actually getting that depth of knowledge that would give me hopefully the right to call myself a junior software engineer. So that’s blowing my mind.”
She started the course in February of this year and will finish it in October. As she said: “I thought I was going to learn how to write code, but I had no idea I was going to learn about how the computer works and where the memory is stored. I think the content – like what the curriculum is – has blown my mind.”
“It’s insane, how much we have learned. I am just blown away by the depth of the knowledge that I’m getting,” Karoline said.
What exactly is the Holberton School?
The Holberton School is a computer science school founded in Silicon Valley in 2016 to address the gap in the education system for aspiring software engineers. The Australian branch of it – Holberton School Australia – started operating here in Australia early this year and now offers the software engineering foundations course here. Karoline signed up for the Holberton software engineering course – with no prior experience in coding. When she still had six months to go, Sportsbet offered her an entry-level position in its IT team and this has helped her a great deal. As well as Sportsbet, three other companies – RACV, Reece Group and REA Group – are scholarship partners, with another, PEXA, expected to join soon. The software engineering foundations course is aimed at career changers and upskillers, so they can retrain at a fast rate. Currently, the course is only available only in Melbourne but it will be starting in Sydney in September. As well, from September there will also be a 15-month, part-time version for those who need to keep working while they study.
As well as studying, Karoline is a mother to two children
Karoline signed up for the course knowing it would be a bit difficult to keep up with the 50-hour workload as she’s also mother to two children. But with her husband’s support, she’s been able to make it work. She told us: “It’s a massive juggle. And when motherhood and these don’t collide, I’m in my happy place. But when they do collide and I have to be pulled away to be with a sick kid… then it feels like a bit of a tug of war. But ultimately I would say it’s worth it. And I’m so glad that I’m doing it.”
“But I think, particularly as a mom, I just feel lucky that it’s been relatively smooth sailing with only a few bumps,” she added.
Students at the Holberton School also get a lot of peer support, meeting up with fellow students two days a week to discuss their projects. “We all support each other so you never feel like you’re stuck on your own,” Karoline said.
The Holberton course is not officially accredited but in the IT industry, many courses aren’t accredited and they rely on industry acceptance instead. The University of Melbourne faculty of engineering and information technology says it’s reviewed the Holberton course and accepts its curriculum as meeting the programming prerequisite for entry into its master of information technology.
For more information on the Holberton School, visit here.
For more from Women Love Tech on education, visit here.