Alex Luneburg, Senior Developer for a SAAS start-up
by Alex Luneburg
If you had asked me 10 years ago where I thought I would be today, working as a Senior Developer for a SAAS start-up in Auckland would have been my last guess.
Growing up, tech was never really presented to me as a career option. There were no programming or computer science classes at my school, and in my mind programming was associated with highly intelligent, socially awkward males who had been hacking on computers for most of their lives. This description didn’t fit me in any way, nor did it make it an appealing prospect for me although I did find the concept of instructing machines through code quite intriguing if completely out of my reach.
My main interest at that time was art history which I went on to study at university, but it became apparent throughout my time there that I did not have enough passion for the subject to survive the competitive low wage marketplace. So I took my newly found research and reasoning skills and took on a variety of temporary work to figure out what I really wanted to do. Soon after I secured a position as a management trainee in a manufacturing company. By no means my dream job, but it allowed me to spend time in all different departments of the company, giving me a wide range of experience and a good introduction to everything involved in driving a business forward.
I wound up working there as a business analyst and project manager. I would design, test and manage the roll-out of new features to the internal stock and ordering systems, as well as providing training for end users. As such I worked really closely with everyone in the I.T. development office, which was an eye opener for me. As opposed to the stereotype I had in my head, everyone was extremely friendly and sociable and came from a variety of backgrounds, from the more traditional Comp Sci graduates all the way through to a ballet dancer turned Oracle DBA. They were all interested in learning and trying new things, and were really happy to answer any question I might have no matter how basic it might have seemed to them.
So when a couple of positions opened up for programmers, I decided to take a shot. Sure I wasn’t a programmer and they’d be taking a risk on me, but I knew the system backwards and had proven my ability to pick up new things quickly. As you might be able to tell from my current position, they accepted my application.
So this was my shot. My chance to see if I could fit into that world that had seemed so closed to me before. I knew I had to make the most of it, so I worked hard and asked as many questions as I could along the way, taking copious notes to ensure I never had to ask those same questions again. I learned so much and loved every minute of it. I started attending conferences and user group meetings to network and to keep on top of the constantly changing technologies that are out there.
Since then I’ve worked in a number of different jobs, each allowing me to try something new and gain a different subset of skills. One of the interesting things about working in tech. is that you can work across almost any industry out there. I’ve worked in manufacturing, digital agencies, magazine publishing, and finance to name but a few. I’m not sure what other careers out there can offer such a wide variety of experience.
Roll forward to today, where I’m working on the other side of the world for a start up providing a SAAS accountancy solution for farmers in New Zealand, one of the country’s key industries. My career facilitated my move as it’s on the NZ skills shortage list, making it easy to apply for a visa and to find a job once over here.
To sum it up
I didn’t take the conventional route into tech, which in many ways I actually view as a strength, but I’m proof that stereotypes mean nothing when it comes to being successful in a particular field. If you’re prepared to work hard, put yourself out there and take a risk, and keep learning no matter what, then you can achieve almost anything.
This industry is great for flexibility, either in working hours or location. Remote working is becoming more widespread as really all you need is an internet connection. As an industry it’s survived pretty well throughout the various recessions, and there’s so much variety out there in terms of areas of specialisation and the different types of companies that you could be working for that boredom is never an issue.
Moving into tech is the best decision I’ve made and I’d encourage anyone considering it to give it a go and see where it takes them.