Julie, early 40s
"Before I started studying, I was a bit of an ICT hobbyist…. After studying, I find I am still doing the same thing – only on a much larger, more organised and more successful scale."
Where did your ICT career begin?
My ICT career began in my lounge room. I started out creating websites for myself, and helping friends create their own. Through word of mouth, new clients started contacting me to do programming for them, and suddenly I was a freelance web developer.
I was self-taught at this stage, and I realised that a formal education would help me learn the skills I was lacking. I enrolled in a Certificate IV in Information Technology at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE, and juggled full-time study, long travel times and family commitments. But I persevered, and I now hold a Bachelor of Information Technology and Bachelor of Computing (Hons) with the University of Ballarat (now Federation University Australia).
Julie, what do you do?
I’m a freelance website programmer. I work from home creating functionality for websites for clients here and overseas.
The work I do allows my clients to easily edit their own websites and manage features like image galleries, product listings and member lists. For example, fitness instructors might create individual fitness plans for their clients and make them available through their website. Their clients can log into the website with their member account and view their tailored fitness plans.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the freedom of working from home, and operating as a freelancer allows me to plan around my family commitments. It’s also very satisfying to develop website functionality that suits the needs of my clients – in effect, I’m developing solutions for their business needs.
ICT is an ever-changing area and my clients often ask me to do things I’ve never done before. I’m always learning new skills to complete projects, from working out how to set up Google Maps as a plotter and integrating it into a website, to learning a whole new programming language.
That said, it’s also very satisfying to use my problem-solving skills to troubleshoot bugs and errors within code – it might take me two days to perfect two lines of complex code, but it’s a great feeling when I get it right. These new challenges are also the most exciting thing about my job – there’s always something new to learn.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in ICT?
I think aspiring programmers need to make sure they keep a balance in their lives. Programming can be pretty intense work, so be sure you take time to unwind. I watch a bit of TV, do some baking, and take breaks from work whenever I have visitors (anything to give my brain a rest from logic flows and syntax!).
Finally, where do you see ICT taking you into the future?
I’m not 100 per cent sure where ICT will take me next. But I’d like to move into a position that will let me travel the world. This could involve an IT consultancy role, perhaps, and I’m confident the skills and qualifications I’ve gained will help me achieve this.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).