Expectations vs Reality of the course

After three years at University, Kieran Taylor thought he understood what learning was. Now halfway through _nology he explains how the reality of this course is very different to his expectations

Written by Nology Team - 02.01.19

During the first half of my life, I lived in a neighbourhood in Poland known primarily to the rest of our town as a place to ask for directions while en route to somewhere else.

The second half picked up the pace from first gear straight into fifth, starting from changing my home base to Edinburgh to mastering two new languages and adventuring in not just the familiar corners of Europe but also those at the other end of the world in Australia. As of June this year, I’m also a proud Masters graduate in Translation and Interpreting.

I graduated from Swansea with a degree in Physics and not much idea of what I wanted to do next. I started applying for engineering and physics jobs and I’ll be honest, I applied for _nology thinking it was a job too! It was a lucky mistake though as Peter Anstey (course founder) called me up and explained it wasn’t a job and I’d have to pay for it. But then he started talking about the tech skills gap, the huge number and range of jobs out there and about the sorts of things I could do with the skills the course would give me.

We built an app in two hours!

After our phone chat I went along to the assessment day and within two hours of being there, we’d built an app. A basic one – you pressed a button and it gave you a compliment – but still, I hadn’t coded at all before that moment and I couldn’t believe in just two hours that’s what I could do. By the end of the assessment day, I knew I wanted to do this course. If you’d have told me back when I was studying physics I wouldn’t in a million years have thought this would have happened!

Next, I had to ask my parents to borrow the money for the course which I don’t think they were expecting, ha! But they did, and it’s already completely changed everything I thought I wanted to do.

Learning is very different with _nology

After three years at University, I thought I knew what learning was – but it’s very different at _nology. Like most students, I’d go to lectures and write down what was being said but not really learn anything until afterwards. Here, we do lots of code-alongs where Craig our tutor will show us something and we’re all coding along with him on our laptops. He’ll stop every fifteen minutes and make sure everyone’s up to date – and if you’re not he’ll wait for you (usually it’s because you’re missing a semi-colon or something, so it doesn’t feel embarrassing or put you under pressure). It means Craig knows that everyone has fully understood what he’s talking about because we’re all active in the class. At Uni we had a lecturer who would use words no one really understood, with a set timeline to plough through and a huge class of students. So if someone fell behind, there was nothing the lecturer could really do.

A very collaborative environment

That’s another thing that I wasn’t expecting from _nology. If we get stuck, we obviously have Craig to ask but we all tend to go to each other for help first. The chances are if you’ve missed something, one of your colleagues has got it and can help you out. We did a project recently with lots of little challenges and had to mark on a wall for each challenge, where we were with it. It meant we could all see how everyone was doing and the people who were further ahead could help the people who were slightly behind. I didn’t realise how much more you learn when you’re working as a team and I guess it’s more reflective of what it’s going to be like in the world of work. I wasn’t expecting the group of people on this course to be as important to my learning.

Positive working environment

The other thing is the environment you’re in has a really positive impact on your learning. At Uni most of your work gets done in your bedroom, whereas this almost feels like a job. We’re working 9am-5pm in an open plan floor of office workers so I have to get up every morning, put a clean shirt on and sit in a team full of people. It really puts me in the zone. It also means you can ask questions and advice from any of the Opus colleagues around you who can use their expertise and client knowledge to help out. I genuinely feel pretty excited every morning to get into work, which again, I wasn’t expecting!

_nology is more creative than I thought it would be. I guess with physics there’s a very black and white answer to everything whereas now we’re playing around with look and feel and there are lots of options for where we want to take it. I think that’s really cool.

The soft skills have massively improved too!

Finally, I definitely wasn’t expecting _nology to have changed how I feel as much as it has. They told us on our first day that in week 4 we’d be doing a Ted talk style presentation in front of everyone. I absolutely hate presenting and I’d say I’m exceptionally bad at it. On Monday of week 4 I did a mini presentation and it was terrible! But then we spent the week hearing from speakers, practicing, feeding back and having interactive sessions and it was so useful. By the end of the week when I had to present again, I was nervous for the first five seconds or so but after that it was the best talk I’ve ever given. By my own standard’s I definitely smashed it. It’s made me feel like when the course is over, if I have to present as part of an interview or something I’ll feel more confident than prior to doing this course.

I certainly wasn’t expecting to want a career in tech, but these six weeks have shown me how much I enjoy web development and especially the creative side of things. I had no idea that side of me existed before but now the idea of making a product for a company that they’re going to use is really exciting. It’s cool to be able to say, ‘I made that.’ It’s shown me a different world. My parents say they’re happy they lent me the money for the course because they love it when I go home and tell them how cool my week has been. So my advice to anyone considering _nology would be ignore what you’re expecting from a tech course and just go for it.

Kierans experiences of _nology so far show how the course can really take people out of their comfort zones and expand their skills into a new area which is becoming increasingly employable. If you’d like to learn more about what the course consists of, please visit our applicant page to find out more.


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