Software Engineering graduate Joel reflects on his studies and career success with Network Rail

Network Rail Senior Full Stack Software Engineer, Joel Mtebe, reflects on his transition from working within the care industry to following his passion for programming at UCLan.

I decided to transition from a service manager role in the care industry with over 5 years’ experience to studying software engineering due to my passion for programming. This was a significant career change, I was worried but determined to fully achieve the end goal.

UCLan has an excellent reputation, especially in the field of computer science. Both the league table rankings and the feedback I received from previous students highlighted the quality of education and support offered by the university. This made me confident that I would receive a strong and relevant education in the field.

Before starting my course at UCLan, one of my primary concerns was coming as a mature student. With parental responsibilities, learning difficulties and the transition to degree-level learning, I was worried about the academic rigor and whether I would be able to handle the coursework. To overcome this I did some self-study, enrolled in online courses and attended workshops to refresh my academic skills. I was fully determined to adapt to the academic demands of the course.

Another concern of mine was making friends at university. Moving to a new environment and meeting new people can be intimidating considering I have learning difficulties. 

I actively participated in activities and social events and clubs organized by the university during the first few weeks of the term such as the university computing “4-week challenge”. This allowed me to meet fellow students who shared similar interests and eased my transition into the social aspects of university life. 

"The combination of a relevant curriculum, hands-on learning, and the immense career prospects in the tech industry, has not only equipped me with valuable skills but has also ignited a passion for mobile computing that I carried towards my career."

Being taught by academics that are experts in their respective fields and able to offer deep knowledge was invaluable whilst I worked on my research project.

Mentorship provided me with motivation and encouragement when I encountered challenges or when I faced self-doubt. It's their belief in my abilities that helped to boost my confidence and determination to succeed.

Learning mobile development at UCLan was undeniably the highlight of my university experience with my brilliant tutor being at the forefront of it all. The mobile computing industry is constantly evolving, and the course content was designed to keep pace with the latest trends and technologies. This made the learning experience incredibly engaging and ensured that I was acquiring skills that are in high demand in the job market. The course provided ample opportunities for practical application of the concepts we learned. This approach allowed me to see the immediate results of my efforts, which was both gratifying and conducive to deeper learning.

"UCLan offered opportunities for work experience and internships but also had strong connections with industry partners. Through events, career fairs, and networking opportunities. These practical experiences allowed me to apply what I've learned in the classroom to real-world situations where I could make valuable connections with professionals in their field."

I am currently employed by Network Rail as a Senior Full Stack Software Engineer. I started as junior developer, and I was promoted within weeks as they felt my competence level was beyond that of junior developer.

Given the nature of Network Rail's operations, we work on a strong emphasis on safety and security in software development. Ensuring that software systems meet safety and security standards is critical in our industry.

Working on different tech stacks reflecting a diverse set of variety of technologies, from Jenkins for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) to Red Hat and OpenShift for container orchestration and management, you'll be exposed to cutting-edge DevOps practices. We also use AWS with a focus on scalability and reliability for deploying, managing, and optimizing applications on AWS cloud infrastructure.

UCLan offered opportunities for work experience and internships but also had strong connections with industry partners. Through events, career fairs, and networking opportunities. These practical experiences allowed me to apply what I've learned in the classroom to real-world situations where I could make valuable connections with professionals in their field.

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