I'm Steve, a Ruby developer at FutureLearn, a company that offers online learning in a huge range of subjects.
Specifically I help build and maintain the front and back end of our Rails app. I work on the degrees team, where we've just enrolled the first few hundred of the thousand students who will be taking their full online postgraduate degrees entirely on FutureLearn, in partnership with Deakin, an outstanding and impressively forward-thinking university in Australia.
People have a certain image in their mind of what a developer is. That image contrasts enormously to the one people had of me just over a year ago, when I was their Uber driver.
I’ve done plenty of jobs, I've been a paperboy, a nightclub barman, a pub barman, a Pizza Hut waiter, a personal care assistant, a teaching assistant with challenging children who spit in your face, but being an uber driver has been my biggest challenge to date.
The reason? The riders. The majority of people are decent and polite, if disinterested. But I experienced a minority who saw me as fair game, ripe for mockery, ‘the help’. But in truth though, the jokes on them.
Uber kept me fed while I was at a transition point in my life. It gave me the room to explore my career options, and the flexibility to pursue them. I'd left the security of a salaried job working with children with autism so I had the time and energy to finish my Open University degree (in childhood, not computer science). That year of driving allowing me to teach myself to code on Treehouse and other platforms, which led to me being hired for my first developer role.
And it’s worth saying, there were a few riders who saw the truth of the job. A London radio presenter was genuinely interested, and was impressed I was also an Airbnb host and learning to code, others called me 'industrious' and 'enterprising', and praised my work ethic.
It wasn’t easy and driving and learning is demanding - but ultimately I couldn't have done one without the other.