First class degree for former bricklayer turned software engineer

Tom Watkins
Tom Watkins

Computer Science graduate Tom Watkins is now interviewing with some of the biggest tech firms in the world after building himself a new career.

He left school at 16 and did an apprenticeship in bricklaying where he worked for several years before deciding it was time for a drastic career change.

Now he has swapped one mortarboard for another with a first class degree in Computer Science which has landed him interviews for his dream job of software engineer with companies like Google.

“I always had a passion for computing and programming and I wanted to challenge myself to pursue that and eventually get a job working on some problems I have a genuine passion for.”

Originally from Cambridge, Tom was smitten with Lancaster University from the start.

“I chose Lancaster because I really fell in love with the campus when I came to visit and also I really liked the collegiate system, and the universities' esteemed reputation was a big pull.”

In 2018, he arrived to study Computer Science in which he excelled, despite being diagnosed with a heart condition in his second year.

“I had a fantastic first year and excelled academically receiving commendations for high exam results and a first class result overall. In my second year I faced extreme difficulties as I was diagnosed with a heart condition which resulted in me needing a pacemaker and subsequently intercalating that year. “

Tom spent several weeks in various hospitals around the country while he recuperated.

“I was told I would be able to partake in sports again but it would take time to build up the fitness and confidence to do that again. In February I'd recovered from the illness and was able to take an internship at the university working on some really great projects for three months.”

He also resumed his successful sporting activities, playing on the County College football team and in his final year becoming club captain of four teams with a hundred members.

During all his difficulties, Tom has nothing but praise for the university.

“Lancaster were incredibly supportive and understanding of my situation and gave me loads of advice and support throughout the intercalation process and they continued to do so after returning.

“The moral of my story is that despite the drastic career change I found a passion in computer science and achieved excellent results and had fantastic experiences.”

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