Our graduate Project Manager/ Business Analyst and undergraduate Developers describe a typical working day at Software Solved. They describe first-hand what they have learnt during their placements and the skills they will use to further their careers.
Noah Keedle-Isack, Undergraduate Developer
I am currently studying Computer Science at Plymouth University but opted to do a placement year here at Software Solved as an Undergraduate Software Developer. I started four months ago and I am looking forward to my remaining eight months.
I’ve learnt a wide array of skills whilst being here and have been lucky enough to work on a few projects already. Learning to use new frameworks such as Aurelia and Angular, along with a range of .NET libraries has been and will be incredibly useful for future endeavours. I’ve also had the opportunity to develop some client-facing skills and attending daily stand-ups has helped solidify these further.
Whilst learning these skills has been valuable, they have not come without their challenges. Joining a project or team deep into the development cycle provides a steep learning curve. Learning about a system, how it works, how it’s deployed and how the team works. This requires a lot of effort and attention and can take away from the nitty-gritty part of the development. Getting to a place in the project where I can work on a ticket on my own, from start to finish, is always a challenge for me, on any new project.
The value of this placement for me is incredibly high. Being able to learn from industry professionals and being in an environment where I can seek help and get answers instantly has been valuable. Obtaining experience in the industry will hopefully give me a head start on other graduates once my time at university is finished and make me more desirable for employers. As mentioned earlier, it’s given me the ability to develop more soft skills that are hard to teach like communication, workplace etiquette and client skills.
Thanks to the flexible hours at Software Solved and the variety of projects, not one day is the same. Most days I log on around 9 am and start by checking my emails and Teams channels for any updates on any projects I am on, company news, or for some poor jokes/questionable music suggestions. I will then start on any tickets that are assigned to me or attend any morning meetings or stand-ups.
I will normally log off for lunch at 12:30 PM and return at 1:30 PM for an afternoon stand-up with the Sparkle team where we’ll discuss what we’ve been working on and what we will be for the rest of day. This is a great time to raise any issues we’ve been having and to nose into what others have been up to.
I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon working on tickets, listening to the questionable music suggestions from the morning, and annoying other developers with what I’m stuck on. Finally, I’ll log off for the day around 5 o’clock (unless it’s a Friday then it’s off to the pub at 4 PM).
Byron Kirsten-Foster, Undergraduate Developer
I am currently a Computer Science student at the University of Bath doing my placement year at Software Solved as an Undergraduate Developer. This is a summary of my first 4 months:
I usually start my day around 9 AM, I load up Microsoft Teams and Outlook to receive any updates from either the day before or earlier that day due to flexible hours allowing us to start whenever suits. After checking for project/internal updates such as system test releases, I’ll load up Jenkins: an automation server used to build, test and deploy software. We have set up a server specifically for running automated tests on multiple environments. These tests include unit tests (very narrow and well-defined scope, e.g. testing a dropdown box persists selection) and smoke tests (preliminary testing to find simple errors that could stop the whole system from working). The Jenkins server runs our test packs overnight so when we start in the morning, we have test results to analyse. For all the failed tests we have two root major causes; they’re either failed tests based on new bugs found within the system, these can be raised in the specific project on Jira for developers to investigate, or we have bugs in our automation scripts, for example, not restoring the test actions, so when running them again they don’t run as expected (adding a table which already exists and should have been deleted after the previous test). This usually takes around an hour or two.
Next, I’ll load up Visual Studio and look through what I wrote down at COP yesterday to refresh my memory on what exactly I was working on. Currently, I am working on scripting a page dedicated to recording ‘Estimated Maximum Loss’ scenarios for estimating insurance losses. The page contains a large table with multiple input cells and calculations to find total property damage and business interruption loss estimate. To have effective coverage and be confident the page works we need a plethora of tests that represent how a user would interact with the system. This requires us to test each cell with normal, extreme (invalid), boundary and erroneous (abnormal) data. After completing test cases they are uploaded to our regression pack for Jenkins to run next time.
We also have project stand-ups throughout the week where the team discusses what they’ve been working on allowing us to keep the client up to date. In addition, as a company we have a monthly All Hands meeting where different departments present what they’ve been doing the previous month, these are great to see how everyone fits together to become Software Solved. Furthermore, special events are put on such as World Mental Health Day last week, where we all got together to discuss our thoughts on the topic. Although we are working remotely these company meetings are nice to see all the staff that you wouldn’t see every day.
What I’ve learnt so far being on the job:
- Gained experience working as part of a team
- Regular meetings to discuss progress have improved communication skills
Difficulties/Challenges so far:
- The biggest challenge so far has been learning to manage multiple projects at once and making sure I meet deadlines
What I’m most proud of:
- Every time I raise a bug that is a result of my automation testing code, I feel proud as it may not have been found without me
- To have received a Three Cheers Nomination from one of my co-workers
Experience and Value of the placement so far:
- It’s been great to see how valuable my university studies are implemented in software development, e.g. scrum development process
- I’m very grateful to have been accepted at such a lovely company with a great culture and an incredible group of people
Thomas Earl, Graduate Project Manager/Business Analyst
I have been at Software Solved as a Graduate Project Manager/Business analyst since June this year after completing my Business Management degree at Exeter University. It has provided me with valuable experience to advance my professional career. I have greatly developed my communication skills by regularly corresponding via email to clients on project progress; regularly organising and running meetings with both colleagues and clients alike has also helped to improve this.
One of the most important skills I’ve learned that is incredibly important to succeed in the role is simply writing things down no matter how good you think your memory is! This is so that I am always ‘in the know’ with all areas of my project and can easily look to mitigate any issues that arise, as well as ensuring that all areas of the project are running on track. I personally prefer to take notes using OneNote which is something I’d recommend for someone in the role; I find that I can look back and search for notes from previous meetings more efficiently whilst wasting less paper, the application also allows you to unleash your creative potential by adding colour and other illustrations which could be useful if you’re undertaking a professional course.
I’m very proud of learning and understanding the different methodologies to Project Management and their relative advantages, especially the Agile methodology which I have been spending CPD time researching; one thing that surprised me initially was with how often this methodology is used throughout the industry! I initially found the financial side of projects challenging which included estimating and invoicing, but with the help of the Project Management team I managed to overcome this and apply this knowledge gained to successfully manage my own two projects.
I am also particularly proud of the progress I have made in my other role as a Business Analyst throughout my time at Software Solved. One reason for this was my limited knowledge and experience in the role in comparison to the Project Management Role which I had some experience in due to my University Course. I have attended workshops, created Wireframes and written Acceptance Criteria’s just to name a few things!
Overall, my time at Software Solved has provided me with invaluable professional skills as well as Project Manager/Business Analyst specific ones that I will use to my advantage for the rest of my professional career. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience which has been challenging, exciting and rewarding simultaneously, whilst having the pleasure to work with some amazing people along the way.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our undergraduate placements, click HERE.