Returning to tech after ten years of self-employment

Cameron Sinclair started his career in tech over ten years ago. He’s since been a professional poker player, a property investor and has now made the decision to go back to tech. He explains why…

Written by Nology Team - 03.04.19

I’m not the sort of person who thinks about the future too much, I tend to live in the moment and go with the flow. During the final year of my Computer Science degree in Southampton a lot of my friends had begun applying for graduate schemes, so I did the same. My first interview was with Ernst and Young, they offered me a place and after graduating I started working in London in the IT Security department for them. Lots of people on my grad scheme didn’t have computing degrees, so the work was pretty basic stuff at times, but I stuck it out for the first year as I knew there were other more technical teams that I could join. I was interested in working for attack and penetration, which is basically hacking and testing security defenses.

I spoke to my mentor and Ernst and Young came up with a training plan for me in my second year to do the training needed to join that team. I was booked on the course and ready to fly out to Germany…and then the 2008 financial crisis happened.

Working in finance at the time of the credit crunch was pretty scary

Obviously working in London and in finance at that time was pretty scary. Ernst and Young’s financial services department, which is where I was based, was hit hard. All the training plans were frozen – and as such so were our careers. They told us, ‘we genuinely don’t know how long this thing is going to last or what the outcome is going to be.’ I knew I didn’t want to be stuck doing the work I’d been doing for the first year and I was becoming a bit disillusioned with the whole corporate London thing anyway. So I quit with not much plan with regards to what I was going to do next. Like I said, I don’t worry about the future too much, I always land on my feet in the end!

There’s a huge skill element to playing poker 

I had some money saved up, so I did some travelling and that’s when I started playing poker online. There’s still a few misconceptions around poker – that it’s just gambling like roulette and slot machines etc – but that’s not true, there’s a massive skill element to it. I’ve always been really good at maths so I started playing and studying the game, reading up on it and I kind of fell into making a career from it. I was making good money on my own, then I wanted to move up to higher stakes so I got a sponsor. They pay for you to play and you split any profits with them, so it removes some of the personal risk. Then I moved into a poker house with other poker players, which was one of the best years of my career. I was making a lot of money and I needed to figure out what to do with it. A lot of other poker players have that slightly degenerate, gambling streak to them and would be millionaires and then broke several times over. I knew I didn’t want to do that, so I got into buying and managing commercial properties.

I went to observe a few auctions, read up on everything and got stuck in. I built up a portfolio and everything was great for a while… when it runs smoothly it’s an easy game… but when big problems come up and you start having to deal with councils, planning permissions, freeholders and endless solicitors it’s not as smooth. It can get really stressful too and I was starting to feel unfulfilled and lacking job satisfaction… I decided I wanted something more stable and fulfilling, and that’s when I decided to go back to technology.

That’s when I decided to go back to technology

A friend had done a tech bootcamp course in London, moved to Bristol and was able to find work very quickly, so I started researching – and came across _nology. After ten years of being self-employed and working predominantly on my own I’m really enjoying being back in a routine and learning again. My background was in IT and I understand that language so at the moment, three weeks in, I’m not finding it as intense as some of the others. But that’s really good as it means I can spend time helping them, which reaffirms my knowledge. I’m sure the time will come when I’ll need their help in the coming weeks! It’s great being in a team again and also I like being creative but I’ve never really been that arty. Coding lets you create something without the need for the skill of drawing for instance. When I was in poker and property I was making great money and living a fun lifestyle but I wasn’t fulfilled. With web development or software engineering there’s a product at the end that you’ve built and can be proud of.. and I love that.

It’s great to see how _nology is offering opportunities to those who are looking to change their career and get into tech. If you want to join our next course, click here to find out more about what you will be learning.


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