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Building a New Career: How Eric Transitioned from Project Manager to Associate Engineer

career change to associate engineer

“Three years ago, I realised I wanted to build something. Ironic, since I worked in construction.”

Meet Eric, a career-changer who shares his story on how he went from being a Project Manager to one of VGW’s Associate Engineers.

Like so many others during the Covid-19 pandemic, it took remote work to help me articulate what I felt was missing in my role as a Project Manager. When lockdowns reduced my days to emails and Zooms, I found myself grumbling that the architects, engineers, and builders were the ones actually doing the work.

At the same time I was spearheading the search for a new project management software for our team. This exposed me to the world of software as a service and I started to think about the tech industry as more than social media and streaming. I started reading books on UX design and slowly started learning how to code.

When my wife and I relocated to Sydney in 2022, I took the plunge and enrolled in a General Assembly Software Engineering Immersive program (GA Bootcamp). After an intense and incredible three month journey, I graduated and started hunting for my first full time engineering role.

As a career changer, I knew how important it was for me to land in an environment that prioritised growth and learning. I had come out of the GA Bootcamp with some skills and an understanding of full-stack development but there was still so much I didn’t know. 

One of the biggest things that drew me to work at VGW was their learning and development (L&D) program for software engineers. Every new engineer goes through the L&D program, no matter how senior they are. It’s an opportunity to learn VGW’s tech stack, the way we like to build, and generally stretch your skills. As a new engineer, you are encouraged to spend the first few months working through this L&D program alongside a mentor. This means that eventually when you do jump into a project team, you know exactly what to expect and how to navigate the codebase.

For me, the L&D program has been a fantastic opportunity to apply what I know and dive deep into things I had never been exposed to before. The Engineering Manager who architected VGW’s L&D program shared that the purpose of the program was to take any level coder and teach them to be an engineer. To train them to not just throw code at a problem but to be able to properly diagnose the issue, design a solution, and execute it at a high level. It really spoke to why I pivoted into software engineering in the first place – the opportunity to tackle complex problems and build something that excites and engages.

Engineers at VGW are also encouraged to return to the L&D projects regularly and try new things. Can you build this in a new language or with a new deployment? This culture of constant challenge and learning is central to VGW and one of the things I love most about it.

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