In this series, we meet some SHIFT graduates, and hear about their experiences of moving into a tech career.
Jess completed her Bachelor of Health Science, endorsed in Medical Radiation Therapy at the University of Otago in 2007, and then moved to London where she joined the clinical team at the prestigious Harley St Medical Centre.
As well as being a Senior Radiographer, Jess was part of the in-house research and development team that had its findings published in international medical journals.
After four years, Jess moved away from clinical practice into a product specialist role with Vision RT, the market leading company supplying surface guided radiation therapy equipment to medical practices. As part of both the clinical applications team and the sales team, Jess had the medical knowledge required to promote the equipment and to train staff on its use, but felt she wanted to go more deeply into the technical side of the products.
After returning to NZ for family reasons, Jess founded a small but successful restored furniture business with both a physical and online store, which drew upon lots of her existing skills, but she was also looking for something else. When an advert for SHIFT popped up on a bus back, literally right in front of her, it was worth exploring.
Jess says "I wanted to learn more about technology, especially programming, so I could use it as a problem-solving tool to enrich peoples lives. Working as a product specialist with medical professionals, I knew all about the clinical side of what the equipment could do but wanted to find out more about how it did things, the software and systems side of things, and SHIFT appealed as a way to start learning about the back end."
The fact that SHIFT offered a mix of practical learning and industry project work, to develop current tech skills and gain valuable industry experience, played a large part in Jess's decision to enrol.
“Coming into SHIFT with no tech background, I never dreamed I would be working on real tech projects within just a few months of starting. These really extended my new tech skills, and during my internship with Datacom as a software development project coordinator, I worked closely with the programming team and the client, which was a huge responsibility and fantastic learning curve. Whilst I could probably have done some parts of this role before SHIFT, the tech knowledge I gained means I can now talk to the team about the technical side of the product, and understand the issues and solutions, whilst ensuring our clients' needs are met right throughout the development process.”
During SHIFT, Jess’s project work included developing a sports tracking widget showing the 3D movement of boats for Dunedin firm Igtimi (known for its part in America's Cup yacht tracking), and a way-finding map app for Otago Museum. Jess has now joined the Datacom Team in Dunedin in a permanent role and is loving it.
“Adding tech to my health science degree really boosted my career options. You don’t need to know where in tech you are going right from the start, you can find your way throughout SHIFT. Absolutely do it!”
SHIFT's school-friendly hours has allowed Jess (Mum to Lucy) and other parents to pursue a new career whilst juggling family commitments. SHIFT is also now available as a part-time option (Dunedin only), and the next cohort commences in July.
To find out more about SHIFT, have a chat with the friendly team at SIGNAL on 0800 99 00 24 or visit signal.ac.nz/shift.