Women in tech: Lucy Burgin
BGC members have pledged to create 15,000 new high-skill tech jobs over the next five years. One technology graduate, Lucy Burgin from Sky Betting and Gaming (SBG), tells us about her journey.
I wasn't particularly interested in Maths or Science at school. I wanted to study Law at University, but as I’d opted for Edinburgh University – and would have had to take Scots Law - I slightly fell into Classics and History instead.
I’d never really thought about working in the tech field until I came across a free Code First Girls course. I saw a flyer on campus so I tried that course while I was in my fourth year. It was all about front end developing. Me and some other girls built a really bad website!
It wasn’t a fully functioning website - you could just click through to different pages - but because we’d never done tech before, it was a really good experience. That set a spark in me.
After I graduated, I started to look for tech roles. Most required a STEM degree, and I didn't have one. I wasn’t quite sure what route I could go down, especially in tech, having studied History. So, I applied for quite a few Grad schemes that would take a History degree.
I struck lucky and joined Sky Betting and Gaming in January 2021.
I think that having completed Code First Girls must have helped my application. You've got to show some kind of interest. There's so much to learn and so many different programming languages, but I think that course gave me a good grounding.
I work in the Promotion Squad in the Bet Tribe. We look after Sky Bet club, and all the other promotions. When I started on the Grad scheme you could try out different roles so I tried being a developer for a time, writing the code, then I shadowed a tester and I preferred that route. So, day to day, I run automation tests to check the website is functioning as it should.
I'm learning every day. When I started, I could maybe do a few bits but definitely didn’t know all about the front end, back end and the different languages developers use. This is my first proper job, so I'm also learning what it’s like to be in a modern workplace, how you engage with colleagues etc.
It's been a steep, steep learning curve, but a good one!
When I started, there was a month of training so I wasn't initially with my squad, my team. I stayed with the Grads and they took us through how we work together, and who different people are, and the different acronyms and names for coding techniques. The great thing is you can just jump on a Zoom call with anyone if you need additional support. Everyone's so willing to help. I've just had a budgeting workshop to try to help understand how that works. Every day is a school day.
The skills I'm learning in this role are transferable to other industries, so it's giving me a really strong foundation for the future. I definitely see this as a long term career. SBG actually enrolled us on to what’s called a Masters Degree Apprenticeship Level 7 - Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist. It’s run in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, so I’m studying modules along with my day to day work. I’m very busy but that’s how I like it!
I’ve not come across many graduate schemes that include official qualifications, so I feel quite lucky.
When my apprenticeship ends, I have the option to pick the role I want to go into. As I'm going down the test route at the moment, that seems a good starting point for my career.
Every day is different. We look at such a wide range of tools and programming languages so I never do the same thing twice in a day.
Before I joined the industry, I thought you needed to have a software engineering degree or specific experience in that field. But my advice to anyone considering this sector is that you don't need any prior knowledge. You can learn it from home, you don't need a degree, you can teach yourself. At SBG, everyone's back story is different. Around a third of the Grads have studied STEM subjects like Maths, but others have studied Biological Engineering, another is a journalist. It's quite diverse.
Not everyone has a degree in programming.
I never envisaged myself doing this when I was at Edinburgh University. I was meant to be a historian studying ancient Rome! But I really enjoy my job. I'm glad I changed. I don’t think I could see myself in another role.
Before I joined, I was very nervous that it would just be me and a bunch of middle aged men. That’s what most people associate with tech jobs. But as soon as I started, I realised it was very different. My Grad scheme is 50/50 men/women and there are plenty roles for women, especially at Sky Betting and Gaming, where they make quite a big effort to ensure tech isn’t male dominated.
There is a lot of support for female employees – we have support circles, and we have an internal Slack channel that's just for women. There is also the TECH HER WORD FOR IT Campaign, which encourages, inspires and celebrates women in tech.
I'd definitely recommend this industry, especially this Grad scheme. Doing it alongside a Masters Degree and learning on the job - I don't think you could get much better experience, really.
For more information about Code First Girls, visit https://codefirstgirls.com
For more information on TECH HER WORD FOR IT, visit: https://www.skybetcareers.com/...