Engineering and Product
Julia Bower, Tech Lead at 9Spokes
Julia is another great example of how transitioning from working for a big corporate into a smaller startup, enabled her to feel more significant as opposed to a small cog in a big wheel. Julia shares some great insight into the importance mentors have played in her career journey as well as a debunking the myth of software development being a path for only a select few. Thanks for sharing.
Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?
I play on computers all day!
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?
It wasn’t something I considered seriously during school, but I grew up playing on computers a lot so I think I just wanted a job where I could keep doing that.
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at 9Spokes?
My first job was at IAG as part of their graduate program. That was a really good intro into the corporate world and a great first job. After that, I decided I wanted to focus more on front end development so I just followed opportunities, and friends in the industry, without any kind of set plan. Having trusted contacts can really help when you’re looking for a workplace that aligns with your values.
I had a pretty speedy progression from graduate to junior and through to senior developer, and I owe that success to a few really great mentors, managers and supporters.
After a few years, I moved to London and worked as a consultant, which was a bit of a shock in terms of pace and expectations, but ended up being a great boost for both my development and soft skills. I ended up at 9Spokes after moving home in the middle of the Covid lockdown, looking for an opportunity to step up as a Technical Lead.
Can you share some more insight into what that transition was like?
I feel like I’ve had a lot of roles in a relatively short space of time (I guess that’s fairly standard for IT!) and with each move the transition gets easier and less stressful.
Starting at 9Spokes at the beginning of the Covid level two restrictions, was a bit strange because there were only a handful of people in the office on any given day, so it took a while to meet everyone. But communicating with everyone was very easy, whether that was over chat, video calls or face to face. The whole team was very welcoming and supportive.
“..now I’m in a much smaller company, I feel more significant, and like what I’m doing every day matters.”
CV’s can be quite lifeless. Have you done anything unique in the past to get the attention of an employer or seen others that have been creative in this regard?
I haven’t done anything myself, but I have reviewed other CVs that included links to personal websites that doubled as a CV. I think that’s pretty cool if it’s done well, as you can show off the skills that you claim to have. It can be risky if not done to a high standard though.
“Anyone can be a developer! And university degrees aren’t the only way in anymore”
Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?
Anyone can be a developer! And university degrees aren’t the only way in anymore - there are so many online courses that can accelerate your career.
What gets you excited about working at 9Spokes?
The supportive and flexible environment, and being able to work on something I believe has the potential to be really valuable for users.
Lastly, 9Spokes continues to evolve. What kind of candidates do you think 9Spokes is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?
Experience is great and technical skills are necessary but I think your attitude and character are much more important - someone who is always learning and trying to be better than they were yesterday.