For a long time I kept my work and hobbies separate, mainly because I never realised that it would be possible to combine them. Last year that changed when a job was recommended to me on LinkedIn based on a mix of my technical skills and love of fashion – and I got it.
I grew up in Andover. I loved my time there, it’s a place where everyone knows each other and you’re never far from a friendly face. My favourite weekends were when my friends and I would bundle on the train to London early on a Saturday morning to spend a day in the city.
It was always amazing to visit so many incredible shops. I used to pick up all kinds of things and fashion them into my own creations to wear. Eventually I started making things others wanted to buy too.
As much as I loved fashion, I saw it as my personal passion. When it came to choosing a career I wanted to follow what I was really good at – IT. I guess I picked up a lot of that from my brother. He gave me my first computer, taught me how to make basic websites and what HTML was. IT quickly became my favourite subject at school.
Unfortunately, during my last A-level exam, panic set in. I fell just shy of a required grade to get into the Computer Science course. The university suggested I study physics instead as I had the grades and could still learn a lot of the same skills.
After graduation, I looked to London at all the big companies, but without the Computer Science title, it seemed out of reach. After multiple rejections I started to lose hope. I turned to local companies and managed to find one willing to give me a chance and train me. I became a QA Engineer – I ensure high quality in software before it’s released to customers. Basically, I use my technical skills to look under the hood and suggest improvements.
Over time, a lot of my friends from university started to move away and I felt like I needed to do something new I decided to update my LinkedIn profile with the new skills I’d gained. I also started to follow a lot of companies I really loved on LinkedIn – including ASOS, a fashion company. One day, I got a job recommendation through the site – it was for the same role I had as a QA Engineer but at ASOS. LinkedIn saw my skills and the companies I loved and made the connection.
I never thought that ASOS would have an in-house technology department; I thought ASOS just dealt with the fashion side. It was my big chance to finally move to London and have this amazing experience of doing what I was good at, but in an industry that meant so much to me. I never thought it would happen, but it did.
On my first day, I got to watch the models walking down the catwalk, saw clothes being designed, images being edited and of course the website being developed. I was surprised by how laid back and quirky the office was despite being quite a large company. They even let me walk down the catwalk for fun – it’s hard!
I’m so grateful that I was given this opportunity. It just goes to show that you only have to put yourself out there and give people the chance to find you to end up exactly where you want to be.
QA Engineer, ASOS