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SHIFT Profile: Farrel Burns

Monday October 26, 2020

Farrel Burns started SHIFT Dunedin in February 2019, having previously studied languages at Otago University, followed by nine years working and teaching across Germany.

"My background isn’t related to tech – actually coming from language and linguistics. My previous career was in teaching and I had worked as a copy-editor and technical writer for a scientific publishing company."

SHIFT's one-year accelerated tech learning and it's practical application attracted Farrel, he returned to New Zealand and applied to study at SIGNAL after seeing an advert online.

"I’ve always loved tech. Having built my own systems and helped others with IT problems, the chance to move into a tech career after a year of study rather than three, was very appealing. I thought I’d give it a go and enter an industry with a huge range of possibilities."

From left: Farrell, Lee, Kay and Karl designed a programme to mark Excel spreadsheet accounting assignments in just a matter of seconds, for a lecturer at Otago Polytechnic.   — Image by: Kylie Jackson

Farrel soon found himself deep-diving into industry tech projects. With little prior knowledge of Python, C# and Microsoft .Net, Farrel's tech skills quickly grew, and he was soon prototyping and developing applications and web portals for local businesses, including Otago Polytechnic, The Logic Studio and Cook Brothers Construction.

"I really enjoyed the diversity and teamwork - working on projects that were useful to people. I gained a considerable amount of new knowledge and enjoyed researching and programming to solve problems."

Farrel (second left) alongside SHIFT Industry Project team and The Logic Studio Managing Director, Ian Simpson (middle).

"SHIFT offered me a practical and accelerated way to look at what I might enjoy in tech and how they are in practice. The teaching style at SIGNAL was open and friendly too, with lots of opportunity to sit down and discuss the industry and how to deal with projects."

Farrel Burns presents his final SHIFT Industry Project - a proof-of-concept design and test findings for The Logic Studio.

Farrel is now working as Web Developer Evangelist for CloudCannon, a software company founded in Dunedin, and serving customers from all over the world. His work involves both web development and technical writing skills to teach people how to use the CloudCannon software, a web-based content and management platform making it easier for developers to build multilingual static websites. 

"My aim for now is simply to further improve my development skills and understanding and become an experienced all-rounder in the industry."

We are very proud of our graduates and their achievements throughout SHIFT; we wish them all the best for their future careers in tech. If you or someone you know is keen to add tech to their current skills or make a change in career, visit for tech study opportunities in 2021.

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