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Cognizant

  • > 100,000 employees

Natasja Laurie

It’s a lot of fun working as part of a team towards the same goal, and pair programming and learning together along the way, to essentially create software that everyone can use.

What's your job about?

Cognizant is one of the biggest IT providers in the world, offering services in Digital, Technology and Consulting to name a few. They’ve been a fortune 500 company since 2011 and named in Fortune’s Future 50 list last year. As we are a consultancy, we help other companies by building software that they need for their business.

For the past few months, I have undertaken Cognizant’s Digital Engineering graduate program, which has been packed with learning and training in topics that were brand new to me. We covered different areas of software development, from coding to planning a project and operations.

I spent time in a team working on a group project, building an e-commerce website from scratch. Building the online store allowed me to try different technologies and processes that were outside of my comfort zone. Now I have finished my training, I spend my time learning and developing my programming skills before I get assigned to my first client project.

What's your background?

I grew up in Bristol, UK and always had a passion for the arts, from music to crafts and photography. I also spent a lot of time with technology, on the computer for hours on end playing games and building websites and designs. I went on to study music technology, photography and English at college. I found all my subjects really exciting and interesting, and all the things I could put my own twist on. After college, I decided to move to London and study Audio Engineering at University.

I worked in a recording studio, producing and playing music with artists and although I loved it, it wasn’t stable work to keep me living in London. I moved into recruitment for Audio and IT companies and ended up spending the next 4 years recruiting for software development companies. I enjoyed the people side of recruitment, but it wasn’t an industry for me.

A year or so ago, I decided to teach myself how to code and focused on Front-end development (building websites and the face of applications). I was very curious about the type of people I was hiring and decided to try it out for myself. I could see visually what I was making from lines of code, and this is incredibly satisfying! I loved learning more and more and broadening my capability of what I could create all the time.

I started my current role as a software engineer about 5 months ago, at the same company I was working for as a recruiter. I told them of my new interest and how I’d love to make it a career, and they helped me to make the move.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes – and amazing ideas and outlooks come from people that have a different background from the norm! It’s actually becoming more common now that people from totally different backgrounds are making the move into software engineering.

If you enjoy problem-solving and have an interest in technology, then programming is definitely a path for you to consider. Because technology is changing all the time, you need to be the kind of person who enjoys continually learning and keeping up to date with the latest trends. If you’re not from a traditional computer science background, like me, certain terms and ways of doing things can be really hard to get your head around. Persistence, grit and practise is key!

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I think the coolest thing is being able to create awesome solutions for people and be creative, through writing code. My job allows me to constantly learn and work on my skills every single day. From a personal perspective, it’s a great and very rewarding feeling to be able to solve more complex problems you maybe weren’t able to before, and watch your skills develop over time. It’s a lot of fun working as part of a team towards the same goal, and pair programming and learning together along the way, to essentially create software that everyone can use.

What are the limitations of your job?

I think the limitations of working in a consultancy is that you will not always be able to work on a brand new project with the newest technologies. A lot of businesses still work with legacy systems and technologies, which can be frustrating when you want to apply your newly learnt knowledge to a project!

Software engineering is no easy feat, and getting your head around certain concepts or how things are done or work in certain ways can be very challenging at times. But it’s an amazing feeling as you build your knowledge and things start to click over time!

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • It’s never too late to learn something new or change your path. If you feel like you want to make a change, then go for it. You won’t know until you try it.
  • Buckle down and put in the hard yards. When study and hard work is important, give it your best shot and invest time in fully understanding concepts, you’ll thank yourself later.
  • Make sure you’re doing something that you really enjoy. When it comes to moving into a career after studying, there’s nothing more rewarding than doing something you enjoy every day.