Donna Hussey is a coder, budding entrepreneur and a single parent who has done her fair share of home schooling – she’s also a career changer. Johanna Hamilton spoke to her about time, resilience and money.  

So, how hard was it to change career with no time and one income? 

You’re right. It’s really hard. When I did the course [at Code First Girls] I just had to be so organised. I was lucky, I did the summer course on purpose because I knew the kids would be on holiday and it would be easier to juggle my time. 

I wouldn’t have as much pressure as to the time restraints of cooking dinner and having after school clubs. So that was very helpful and it was just being organised. I found a company called Cook because there was just no time to cook. Everyone was doing take out and I was like, I can’t pay. So, I found a local Cook near me so I could just go and pick up the food. Then for the rest of the time I used HelloFresh which was very helpful because once I got in my groove and I got used to the course – I got all the recipes, I just didn’t have to think. 

What made you decide to change your career? 

So, before I was working in schools for quite a long time. Initially I did teach training and I decided it wasn’t for me. So I went into work with special needs with autism as a TA. I did that. For quite a while and I had some ideas and I set up my own business where I started offering SEN interventions. When COVID hit, it impacted the business. I couldn’t go into schools, so I had to get everything online and that was daunting.  

I had dabbled and done websites before because I’d always had an interest in tech, but nothing where I’d actually have to have a business that’s viable. So, tech solved my problem and I took my clubs online.  

So, you pivoted to online? 

Yes, but I also set up training for some of the teaching staff where I’d worked. The Sencos I was working with before COVID said, “Donna can you train us? You can’t come in, but can you train us?” So, I set up training online and it’s still online today. That was amazing because it showed me what could be done and I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand more, so I started looking into learning with people like Code Academy. 

Then, I found out about Code First Girls and how they offer bootcamps. And that’s good because it’s structured and it will have everything in one place rather than when you’re self-taught just taking different parts from different courses. So, because my business literally died, I became a self-employment advisor at Sure Trust. Because, I’m a single parent and I need an income.  

Another reason I applied to Code First Girls was that I had been home educating my youngest son with Dyslexia for two years – then in January 2022 he was accepted to a specialist dyslexia school.  I felt so much relief, that I could now focus on my own career goal of how I could upskill and transition into a career in tech. So, a couple of months later, I was on the course! 

Did you ever have any misgivings about your career change? 

Not as such. I guess the main thing was, I wanted to get into tech but I didn’t have that skill base yet. So, I set up a website so I could do freelance for people, build up a portfolio, but at the same time I had to have a physical job. That’s when I began working for a charity that was helping people who had been impacted by COVID like myself, to get people back to work under the programme that the government was offering at the time. 

It was work from home, talking about business, helping people set up. I did that up till 5pm every day, then started work on my course at 6.30pm. But because Code First Girls is so full on and I was finding it was quite a lot of work, so I resigned my job in July. I just did the crazy thing and I just gave up the role that I had so that I could focus on my final project – which was a risk as I didn’t have a company to go to. I wasn’t being sponsored. I had to make sure I had to put myself out there a bit more and apply for roles. 

So, tell me you got a job as a coder? 

I applied for quite a few roles. As people know, when you’re doing a career change, it’s not easy because you’re applying for roles you haven’t had before. It’s about companies giving you that first step and that first chance. I was really lucky to get a position with the Civil Service National Archives as a developer on their front end. That was back in November.   

Are you really enjoying it? 

It’s really cool. We did the Silicon Milkroundabout on Sunday because we still have developer roles that need to be filled, because in the civil service and government, it’s hard to keep and retain tech talent. Once you’ve got your first job and you’re flying, big corporations are looking for you on linkedIn – and if you’ve worked in government and you’re a starter with a few years under your belt, you’re going to get poached. You get offered a LOT of money – so it’s hard for the government to retain staff when there’s always a better deal on the table elsewhere. 

But, you made the right decision for you and your family? 

Yeah, I did. I feel secure and I’m loyal, so I’m not going to be easily poached. For me, this feels like just the start. I’m being mentored and I have a great idea that I’m trying to develop as an entrepreneur. I’ve always had that drive, and I enjoyed being self-employed and self-motivated, but doing the Code First Girls course has given me that drive in a different direction.  

I just feel really excited to have a dream job and I want to say to everyone, if you want to change careers, this is an amazing place to start.  


Anna Brailsford of Code First Girls said: “As the largest provider of free coding courses in the UK, we’re on a mission to encourage more women to code by supporting their employability through boosting their skills and linking them with jobs in the industry. With 80% of our community reporting that they were never taught computer skills or encouraged into a career in tech at school, we’re helping to rectify this by giving women the opportunity to career switch at a later stage through our free courses – including the CFGDegree. 

“So far, we’ve taught more than 100,000 women to code through education that is virtual, accessible, and flexible – and we don’t intend to stop there. By working closely with more than 100 businesses, we will continue to help women break into the industry and link them with the roles and companies they want”. 


To find out more about Code First Girls bootcamps and degree courses, visit