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PAULA MULDOON

Javascript developer, Cambridge Cognition

 

And - Violinist and leader of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra; member of world-famous Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique 

Having a reason to go to work makes the difficult days worth it.

What do you do?

Cambridge Cognition provides cognitive assessment software for clinical trials, academic research and healthcare provision. My job is to maintain and improve the website clinicians and researchers use to administer the assessments. 

Why did you choose this field?

"Before I became a programmer, I worked as a professional violinist."

Being a professional violinist was a wonderful career that took me to over 20 countries. However, when I entered my 30s, I knew I wanted to use my brain in a different way and also have a more settled lifestyle. 

 

I signed myself up for Makers Academy (the programming bootcamp) and decided to go for it, based on practical reasons: I could do it from anywhere in the world (I am an American living in the UK), I could retrain quickly, and there was a good job market. I turned out to love programming, which was a real delight! 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Writing code! I never even considered it as a possibility because I didn't look like a coder. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

"So many of the skills I learned in music are really applicable to my programming career."

I love solving puzzles. I also love that my job does real good in the world - mental health is important and my work benefits society.

 

Also, as a musician, I think it's important to think of STEAM, not STEM - the "a" for arts is really crucial. I don't know where I'd be without the violin.

Best advice for the next generation

Find tech that you enjoy working with and then find something you care about that you can use your tech skills in. Having a reason to go to work makes the difficult days worth it. Also look into growth vs fixed mindset.

Role model 

I love Saron Yitbarek and her podcast Code Newbie - really recommend it to anyone looking to get into coding.