James Porter: My tech career so far

25 October 2019 - 3 minute read

James recently spoke at Altitude’s launch event. Here he reflects on how he first became interested in technology and how that led him into the tech industry.

“I’m James Porter and I am a software developer in Newcastle. I recently spoke at the launch event for the Altitude Foundation because I am passionate about both technology and education so I am excited by what the programme offers to young people in the region. My talk was about my career so far and how I started in a similar position to many of those who are on the programme.

When I was studying in school in Durham, computing was not offered as a subject. Most of the teachers and students could not code and it seemed impossible that the school would ever introduce software development into the curriculum. However, inspired and encouraged by my Dad, I decided to experiment with tech as a hobby. I started creating websites, arcade games and useful desktop apps, such as a simple spreadsheet or word-processor. Anyone who is passionate about tech, creative and logical can do this, no matter how young or old. I started when I was 8 years old and have never looked back. Now, I am working for a leading UK software consultancy, Scott Logic, and I value the time I invested during school into learning programming.

In sixth form, I studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. This was a great foundation for my degree in Engineering and my tech career so I encourage all of the Altitude students to take technical subjects – whether these ones or others. However, there are multiple paths you can take to get into the tech industry. My colleagues studied a range of subjects at university, from technical degrees such as Computer Science, Engineering or Maths, to more unusual degrees such as Biology or English. Regardless of what students study, careers in software development are open to them as long as they are passionate about tech and enjoy a good challenge.

While my A-Levels were useful, doing extra-curricular coding was invaluable in helping me secure a place at university and get a tech job. I encourage all of the Altitude students to become hobbyist programmers; it’s great fun to make your own games and you learn a huge amount too.

Throughout my time in Scott Logic I have worked with a number of different technologies, from JavaScript (for the web) to Kotlin (for Android). Scott Logic offers a fantastic graduate training programme which I was part of for a handful of months after I joined. This gave me an opportunity to learn how to make web apps using JavaScript and React before exploring how to create Android apps using Kotlin, a language similar to Java. After my training, I moved on to a client project to make an Android banking app which I have been working on for almost a year. It is exciting to work on an app that people around the country will use, even though I can’t talk about which bank it is!

I encourage the students to get into software to be able to have these opportunities to impact the world, solving challenging problems. Being part of the Altitude Foundation is a fantastic opportunity and hopefully everyone will enjoy their time working with tech as much as I have.”

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