As our name suggests, Pace is an organisation where people move quickly. And that ethos starts with our graduates, who begin their career with an intensive training programme known as the Fast Track (which you can read about in our previous blog post, ‘Life on the Fast Track’).
Grads join the Fast Track from all different backgrounds, technical and non-technical, and leave as fully qualified developers in their chosen specialism. It’s a challenging process, but one that’s hugely rewarding — maybe even life changing.
Here to tell us all about it is Nick Taffinder, who came to Pace after a career in Finance. Through the Fast Track, Nick has transformed from tech novice to MuleSoft Certified Developer. Read on to find out how he did it…
Hi Nick! Thanks for speaking to us today. To start off, would you tell us about your career before the Fast Track?
Prior to joining Pace, I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Chinese (Modern & Classical) and had pursued a Master’s in Investment Banking, before briefly working in M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions).
Having not completed a technical degree, I joined Pace with little-to-no technological experience. Whilst I always found tech fascinating, I was sure that breaking into the industry would be quite an abrasive transition. I neither studied Computer Science nor had any exposure to programming languages, so my idea of coding and all things digital was something like the Matrix!
I was looking for an opportunity that not only allowed me to learn technical skills from the ground up, but also honed my business-related capabilities and my understanding of technology more broadly. And I found that opportunity in the Fast Track.
What was your experience getting started at Pace?
Starting at Pace, it was immediately evident that there was a profound sense of comradery, support, and passion for both the business and profession. For me, it was a sharp contrast between my previous working experience within finance and industries outside of technology – I felt extraordinarily welcomed and motivated to share the same drive as my new colleagues.
How did you approach the MuleSoft course?
To become a MuleSoft Certified Developer (MCD), you’re required to make your way through an in depth online course provided by MuleSoft, before taking (and passing) a 2-hour-long exam. I threw myself into the course and tried to absorb as much information as possible.
It took me just under 3 weeks to complete the study portion of the MCD course. However, I still wasn’t fully confident in my understanding of MuleSoft. The course itself provides a solid foundation, but there are a lot of integration fundamentals required, especially for a graduate with little developing experience. However, my colleagues and fellow Fast Track Grads rallied together to reassure each other that we could do it!
It was around this point that I decided to follow other MuleSoft training classes on YouTube. This was definitely a game-changer, accelerating my practical skills and augmenting what the course had already taught me.
While I felt I’d studied the course to a good standard, I really wanted to gain some hands-on project experience before attempting the exam. I was on-boarded to a new programme and my Senior Developer tasked me with creating JSON/XML schemas and Postman collections — my first experience actually working with code. This was definitely the best way for me to learn. From the structure of the code to the syntax, I started to think in a different way and approach development as a problem-solving task.
How did you find the exams and how long did it take you to pass?
My first attempt with the exam was after 3 months. At this point, I’d been focussed on project work alongside revising. The pass-mark required is 70%. I scored 60% and I knew that with proper revision passing was an achievable goal. Alongside active development work, I took another month to consciously revise exam-related content.
Since there were also a handful of other graduates working towards the MCD, Pace had organised short revision sessions covering some of the more challenging content. I retook the exam and fortunately passed on that second attempt.
How did Pace support you on your path to becoming qualified?
Pace was massively supportive throughout my whole journey to getting qualified. They provide all Grads with ‘Integration 101’, an array of internal learning assets including many recorded videos from experienced Pace team members. Pace also organised revision sessions on the more challenging aspects of the course, and I think this made a big difference in helping me feel ready for the exam.
Crucially, Pace also gave us an opportunity to learn practical skills as we studied the MCD course. Working with my Senior Developer on my first ever programme was incredibly useful, because it answered the why and not just the how in achieving integration success.
Do you have any advice for future Fast Track Grads looking to take the MuleSoft qualification?
Looking back, I would have taken my first exam attempt sooner because it really helped contextualise the study path. Similarly, I would have worked more closely with newer graduates to revise content, as the collaboration between my peers was incredibly useful when problem solving exam questions. Lastly, I would encourage any graduate to consider the implications of integration more broadly, rather than just within the context of passing the MCD.
We’re incredibly proud of the progress Nick has made on the Fast Track. It’s an incredible achievement to become MuleSoft Certified, especially without a tech background, and Nick’s success is a testament to his hard work and dedication.
At Pace, we’ve always believed that the best talent can be found anywhere. We recruit Fast Track Grads from all walks of life, and then provide them with all the tools and support they need. And, as Nick himself mentioned, we know the exam is just the first part: we want to prepare our grads for real development work, so they’ll be able to make a difference from the very first days of their career. It’s a quick process, but that’s absolutely the Pace way!