From Fintern to Software Developer – Amelia lee

The American author Doug Cooper once said: “a major life decision is never a choice but rather a realisation that the decision has already been made.” When I applied to a software development internship in August 2018, I certainly didn’t realise what a major decision I was making! I joined FinoComp in their first intake of “Finterns” over the summer of 2018-2019. That’s a story of happy coincidences and following my gut even when my head said: “Amelia, you know nothing about finance and you barely know how to code.” If you want to read the full story of how a Mathematics student stumbled into a careers exposition and landed an internship, it can be found here: 

Maths, bugs and groovy code – Amelia Lee | The FinoComp Blog
I met Ray and Leanne at the UOW Careers Expo in August 2018. I had just one and a half Java subjects up my sleeve and the world of programming was a mysterious dark cloud in my mind. They didn’t yet have an internship program set up, but they clearly had a vision and a… finocompblog.com

When the internship finished I was buzzing with excitement about software. I’d gotten a taste of what it was like to see code come alive in real-time and I was hooked. The thought of scrapping my maths degree and asking to stay on full time was tempting

I never had an affinity with computers so I was surprised to find out how much I like coding. I think it’s because mathematics and computer science have more in common than the people in either field would have you believe. The thing I like most about both is that they provide a rigid, logical framework that you can creatively apply to a huge variety of problems. Unfortunately, not many people get excited about slick number theory proofs. On the other hand, everyone loves apps that make life easier!

Work gave me the two things I liked best about studying: learning new things and problem-solving. What I still find most rewarding about software development is that there’s a new challenge every day but you’re also building something lasting. It’s like woodwork for nerds. 

I didn’t drop out of university, but I did stay on at FinoComp part-time. No longer a Fintern, I was now a Junior Software Developer. At the end of the internship, I wrote about feelings of imposter syndrome. Those feelings resurfaced when I signed a contract with that title on it. In my head, I was still very under-qualified. After all, I was just a maths student who did an internship! Thankfully that isn’t how the team at work saw it and they helped me to wade further out of my comfort zone. I still jump at any opportunity to do the number-crunching tasks, but I’ve learnt to love the whole land of backend development.

I was still studying full time when the pandemic hit and everything went remote overnight. While the universitystruggled to restructure its courses, work transitioned quite seamlessly. FinoComp has always had a flexible working policy, so we all knew the drill. Physical whiteboards were replaced with virtual ones, coffee-break chats with Slack calls and the meeting room table with Google Hangouts. Our group trainer Steve hasn’t let our fitness slide either – we’re still working up a sweat from our living rooms! 

I miss seeing the familiar faces of my co-workers and little routines like walking down to the Jamberoo park for lunch. However, cutting out the daily commute and being able to spend more time with family have been big positives for all of us.

For me, the fear of being trapped in my apartment for months lured me back to my parent’s farm. Without all my usual activities, I rekindled my love for handstands (and for being upside down in general!) A physical hobby is a must when work is mentally challenging! 

I’ve been impressed by how the company culture has survived remote work. Everyone has put in a massive effort to check in with each other and keep communication strong. Activities like trivia and charades have kept us together even though we’ve been physically apart for almost six months.

Two other original interns and I graduated at the end of last semester. Like many of life’s big achievements, submitting that final assignment was anticlimactic, made more so by the fact that we couldn’t celebrate with our peers. Our graduations were cancelled, and we were emailed pdfs proving our new qualifications. On the day those pdfs were sent, a lovely package arrived at my doorstep. The graduation present from work was a very thoughtful, generous reminder that our achievement hadn’t gone unnoticed. 

What drew me to FinoComp originally was the people. Every developer takes pride in his or her work and is genuinely happy to help out at any opportunity. The leadership team has a passion for the industry and a strong vision. Most of all, there is mutual trust and respect that comes from building things as a team. 

I ended my last blog by writing “I can’t wait to find out where my future with FinoComp leads.” Eighteen months later I feel the same way! I’m so excited to keep following this path and to keep learning and creating new things.

Amelia Lee – Junior Software Developer, FinoComp

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