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The balancing act of marriage, kids, work and a Skills Bootcamp!

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Sounds like a title from a 2.4 American romcom and you may be forgiven for thinking it is. How do you juggle it all, when trying to work towards a whole new career change?

In the first of our Skills City Storytelling Series, Senior Marketing Manager Kerry Voellner speaks to Ben Dale, 28, recent Graduate of the AWS re/start Academy about balancing employment, family and upskilling!

Now employed as a Software Developer at Inscape Interiors, Ben’s journey to the Academy was an interesting one, “I guess I took a different path to most people. Instead of going to university, I had different jobs.

“I worked as a salesman, selling loft insulation, I did voluntary work which took me to Greece and Cyprus. I learnt Greek and got involved in lots of different projects from helping people into employment to tidying up litter. Then I managed to get a job teaching Greek and met my wife.”

“So, we got married, had kids and at that point in my life, I realised what I was doing – was not the most sought-after job.”

Realising he needed a change of direction, Ben decided to return to university, “I was there from 2016-2020 and finished with a master’s in Chemistry. Towards the end of my studies, I came to a crossroads. I was applying for different jobs in both material science and data. And, as I was doing this, I saw the advertisement for the academy.”

“I went through the criteria and it was check, check, check, it was just right for me.”

Ben’s wife was initially not impressed with his decision to return to more studying. “She was like, ‘three more months of education!’ – whereas my argument was… ‘this could set me up with a career for life. It’s worth it.”

Ben weighed up the pros and cons of a Skills Bootcamp with other options, “Whilst other graduate schemes were tempting, they are extremely competitive. Quite often they require you to travel the country, which is tricky with young kids.

“The academy was accessible. It was online and the fact it was a broad course was appealing to me. It included technical skills in a range of subjects. From cloud computing and software development to data analysis.”

Being able to work the academy around his family commitments and the additional soft skills taught were important to Ben also, “Having that work-life balance and learning positive interaction skills, such as working as a team, leadership skills was important.

“I guess as I started university after a few years of working, I had more of an appreciation for those skills. I was reading recently in a book, How to Win Friends and Influence People; how important soft skills in technical jobs are’. It was saying eighty percent of what is important in a job role, is soft skills.

“There were also parts about learning how to become an entrepreneur and how to start a business, which was all interesting stuff.

“One of the biggest pull factors, was the opportunity to work with industries and the commitment to be set up with interviews. I chose this course as I wanted to get into a stable career.”

As a career changer, the support received from Skills City was important to Ben when applying for jobs, “The first step for me getting into a new subject (as I had studied chemistry) is getting over that line of being introduced.

“The academy gave me the confidence to think, ‘I could try a job in this’, and I guess it’s that confidence that takes you to really learn the skills.”

Ben’s employers were looking for someone with the necessary tech experience to fill a gap in their organisation, “Inscape Interiors were at a point where they needed a software developer.

This is where the talent match took place, “They contacted the academy and then I was set up for interview. So, it was making them connections.”

Ben encourages others who are considering a career change or want to try something new, “Technology is a huge industry. It’s so broad. You can work for almost any company. It’s a short-term course, it’s fully funded and the skills and confidence you will get from it, as well as the qualification, will be with you for the rest of your career.

“It’s not easy, but nothing worth having is. If you are committed and want to change your career, then go for it.

“It’s a no-brainer really.”


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