In today’s world, one doesn’t follow the old concept of “going to school, uni, taking a job, climbing the ladder and eventually settling in on a comfortable level, hanging in there hoping for early retirement” any more.

“Life-long learning, fulfilling work life, flexibility and ‘several careers in one’s lifetime’” are much closer to reality. A career change doesn’t need to be linked to hitting a wall in your current job, it may just feel like it’s time for something new or an opportunity presents itself that seems too tempting, that you just have to give a go.

To share with you just one example of how a career switch can work brilliantly, we caught up with Simon Pratt. Simon made the switch from Council Outreach Project Officer to Web Developer. Here our chat with Simon.

ADLIB: What has been your career journey so far?

simon prattSimon Pratt: I started my working life over 15 years ago, having completed a degree in sociology. I didn’t really have much of a career plan when I left uni and kind of fell in to working as a recruitment consultant which I did for several years.

I enjoyed my time doing that and subsequent jobs, which included 8 years with the council helping young people into apprenticeships. However, I never really felt that any of those roles were my “vocation”. So, when I was offered voluntary redundancy from the council, I took the – quite scary – decision to change routes. I now work for a Bristol based creative agency called Colour and Thing and I love my job. Re-training in web development was the best thing I ever did.

ADLIB: Why the switch to Web Development specifically?

SP: Several years before my career change, I had pestered a friend of mine to build me a website. Due to lack of time (and probably inclination), he suggested that I try my hand at building it myself, so I did. I found the experience to be surprisingly enjoyable and before I knew it, I was going to bed thinking about how I was going to code the next section of my website.

“I loved being able to stand back and say, I made that”


I liked the logical thinking it requires and the attention to detail, but most of all, I loved being able to stand back and say, “I made that”. Although I didn’t take the plunge into web development as a career there and then, it made me think more and more that I might want to do it as a job.

ADLIB: What would be your one piece of advice for those also wanting to make a switch to a career as developer?

SP: One of the main things that almost put me off re-training in web development was the thought of having to do another relevant degree or some other qualification, particularly due to the cost that would entail. However, the more I spoke to people about the skills and knowledge needed, the more I found out that employers didn’t necessarily want a qualification, they wanted to see what you could code.

In fact, a lot of employers explained to me that graduates were coming out of education with quite outdated knowledge and methods and that syllabuses weren’t really that up to date. I took the route of re-training from home using online resources. Initially I used Treehouse which is an online training academy-style organisation with tutorials / lessons and practical projects, but there are so many great resources out there, not least of which, the venerable Stackoverflow!

ADLIB: What three pieces of general advice would you give those wanting to make a major career switch (not necessarily towards Web Development)?

SP: 1. A major worry I had when re-training was that I thought employers would wonder what I was doing applying for a junior role at my age. But actually, employers like the fact that you have employment skills which are transferable. Communication and organisational skills are two really good examples. They saw it as a positive.

2. Try to speak to people in the industry you plan to go into to get as much information as possible. I discovered a lot from doing that and you may be surprised how much you can find out. The guys at ADLIB were really helpful!

3. You’re never too old – you only live once!

Thank you Simon. Very inspiring indeed.

Image credit: Negative Space