#LifestartCareerChats: An evening with Benjamin Lattimore

What do you have to study at university to become a coder? Mathematics? Engineering? Languages?! Get rid of all your preconceptions of what it takes to be a developer, Benjamin Lattimore is not the stereotype. Read on to learn how he did it and help with your own career plans.

The New Street Grill is situated just across the road from London Liverpool Street station and fortuitously down the road from Shoreditch, the hub of startups, web developers and where Benjamin is currently based. Benjamin’s story is not the typical one and even from the outset we knew we would learn a lot. 

Benjamin studied Persian at SOAS in London. Yep, you read that right. He studied language and cultures. Not programming.

So, how did he get from there to WordPress web developing? 

Well.. it didn’t just come out of nowhere. Benjamin already had an interest in websites whilst at university. Leaving a few years older than the normal 21/22 year old graduate, he began a graduate placement. Champollion Digital is where he began to cut his teeth a lot more on everything from coding to copywriting to social media. It was something he did on the side because he was curious. And he turned his curiosity into a job.

It was after this that he decided to start freelancing, to start finding his own clients and work. Undeniably he found it tough to begin with, but using what he’d learnt previously he was able to make it work.

How does Ben find clients and what about the dreaded ‘unpaid’ opportunities? 

First of all, clients can come from anywhere. The better you work and the stronger your client relations, the less time you’ll have to spend looking for clients, as work will start coming to you. Benjamin also recommended staying open-minded to the unpaid opportunities you are offered. If it’s for a charity, or work that you think you’ll really enjoy, or could open doors in the future maybe think about saying yes. It’s never black and white. Some offers won’t have a happy end yet others might lead onto amazing paid opportunities.

One of the biggest problems facing Benjamin’s industry of coding and website development is diversity. He lamented the fact that the number of women and people of colour has been very low. Although the result may be unidentifiable in terms of web output, the process and ideation process will always be more fruitful if it contains people from a range of different backgrounds and experiences. His next venture will be to set up a business where he will train others to become web developers like himself. Hopefully including those that are underrepresented in the industry.

 Benjamin’s optimism and energy is infectious. He remained realistic about career prospects, but always with a can-do attitude in mind. 

In other words: it doesn’t matter what you’re studying, just remain open-minded and keep gaining those skills and experiences so you can move in any direction you choose!

Today, tomorrow, always.