The Industrial Placement Experience

Lauren Weston

Software Engineer

Follow your arrow wherever it points.

My ‘IP’ experience started with a week of training sessions where different Web Apps employees taught all the new starters lots of useful information – ranging from how the company works, to technical coding stuff. I got to know the other new starters really quickly, and after the training, we were given a technical task to complete. A mentor was assigned to us, whom we could ask for help whenever we got stuck. It was helpful to have a friendly face around for whenever we needed anything.

It didn’t take long to settle in, and I was soon treated like a regular employee. We started working on paid work that actual clients are asking for, on all sorts of cases in a variety of roles. Since I began my placement, I’ve worked as a Development Engineer, a Peer Tester, a Quoter, and a couple of times I’ve actually made it to be a Lead Engineer! Knowing that I’ve been given the trust to be the lead of a case has greatly increased my confidence. When I first started, I thought everyone else was much better than me and that it’d take me forever to get close to the level of most of the people here. But as my coding skills have improved, so has my confidence and especially as I’m treated just like anyone else here, and it feels great.

Our company has a strong ethos, and we believe in doing a proper job first time – even if this initially takes longer than coming up with a quick hacky fix. Because of this, you can get into good habits which always helps in the long run. You’re never under pressure and feel like you need to get the job done quickly, as we’re encouraged to think of a solution to the problem, and then the fix will be tested by not only the Developer but by a Peer Tester too.

There are so many events – whether that be a Streetfighter Tournament, an Easter Egg Hunt, or a Bake Sale, it’s never a slow week here. Apart from these events within the work day, we have out of hours trips and regularly get invited to see plays at the Oldham Coliseum, or meet up for a curry night, bowling, and plenty more. You name it, we’ll probably be going there! We also have official company outings every few months that are always so much fun – I can’t wait for Go Karting today.

Streetfighter Blog

Having all these events on allows you to get to know everyone who works here, consequently, this turns out to be a really friendly, chatty, sociable environment to work in. The belief in the company, is that people learn off each other, which is also a reason as to why we have such an active social scene. The company is a small/medium enterprise so you’ll get to know everyone here quickly. This also makes working on cases a lot easier, as if you need to talk to a Project Manager for example, you can just walk to the next room and have a chat.

Every month or so, I’ll be running a code club, where me and other employees will be helping out children of all ages with their coding skills. You can learn a lot from teaching young people, and it is really rewarding when you’re able to make a difference.

We have a few hackathons a year, which is basically where you and a few others create a new coding program/solution/game over 24 hours (or so) straight. We usually enter a team with some of the new starters within a year, deciding who gets a place through a challenge day which tests your coding skills against the others. I’ve managed to get myself a place at a few hackathons and I can’t recommend it enough if you’ve never tried it! You get to expand your knowledge and it’s fun staying up with your mates into the early hours – seeing who’s the first one to give in to sleep.

Blog edit

If we haven’t had a day off in the week, every Friday afternoon, we get the chance to improve our coding skills through our own personal project. This is known as Personal Development Time or ‘PDT’. It’s a great time to look up that thing you discovered within the week, but you were too busy working to look into it in depth. It’s so much easier to start your own project that you can carry on in your own time when you’ve got a Friday afternoon devoted to diving into something like this. Right now, I’m learning how to use C# by creating my own game on Unity. Some Friday afternoons there’ll be training sessions like the ones in your first week. If there’s something in particular you’d like to learn, you can always suggest it in the suggestions box and I’m sure a developer would be happy to cover it for you and everyone else.

I’ve had a remarkable time working here for my first year in the industry. I’m back at university for my final year from this September, and I can easily say that I’ll be returning as a stronger computer scientist. The prompt pace here means I’ve constantly been learning and growing as not only a coder but as a person. I’ve gained so much more confidence in myself and I’ve made a lot of happy memories, I couldn’t recommend this enough.