|A photo of me with the instructors at CodeClan on |
Graduation Day: smiles all round!
Motivations for taking a sabbaticalIn today’s modern world, we are surrounded by ever-growing technology and applications, making life and accessing information a little easier. It’s therefore no surprise that the digital sector is a growing and increasingly important element in our day to day lives, and one which we rely on to access, share or view information. The BGS recognise this, and it is a part of their strategy to engage more with the public via digital means (for example, their awesome iGeology app). I have always had an interest in new technology and thinking of ways to implement this professionally to communicate the work I do at BGS. However, I lacked the necessary coding skills to be able to create mobile or web applications to achieve this, and so I took a sabbatical to train as a software developer.
The sabbatical itselfBetween February and July this year, I was hard at work learning how to code at CodeClan, a digital skills academy in Edinburgh. Initially, I found the course very challenging as it was so fast-paced and intensive: especially for me having little prior experience of coding. I’m a visual learner, and at first found it hard to visualise how different parts of the code were communicating with each other.
|From L-R: Planning and coding for Project Week 2: a geology based Android AppGetting my head around the concept of|
multiple classes in Week 3: for me, colourful note taking was essential to reinforce the concepts!
ProjectsMy first project had nothing to do with geology (cats instead, almost as good!), and so I won’t include it in this blog: it was in those first few weeks where I was feeling lost with learning how to code that I had no brain energy to dream up a geology project. However, by the time the next project week came around, programming and I were getting on better and agreeing with each other more, and so I felt more confident to come up with my own projects.
|Screenshots of the app I designed for Android, allowing you to find and track geological excursions: with the added bonus of|
viewing a beautiful BGS geological map!
incorporating BGS data
Now that I am back from sabbatical, I am looking forward to continuing to develop my skills in software development, and making my work more accessible to the public via digital platforms. I have not only acquired new digital and software skills to allow me to achieve this, but have also heightened my resilience, problem solving, communication and team working skills. I feel more confident with my ability to pursue a complex and new subject, and have learned that as long as you don’t fear failure, have a growth mindset and a passion to learn, anything is possible.
The BGS Staff Sabbatical SchemeBGS offer their own Sabbatical Scheme (for BGS staff, details can be found via the BGS Intranet here), different to that described in the RCUK Career Breaks and Sabbatical Policy. Examples of strong cases for consideration of sabbaticals include:
- Developing new skills
- Experience of new technologies/methodologies
- An opportunity to work with an expert in their field
There is a short application form to fill in to be considered for the BGS Staff Sabbatical Scheme, which asks the staff member to explain their reason for a sabbatical, the duration planned, a breakdown of any additional funding requested and a business case which should link into the BGS strategy.