An Audience with Craig Dean

Yesterday, Craig Dean held a guest lecture at University of Manchester for students of Advanced Computer Science.

The room quickly filled with eager students wanting to know more about the commercial world of software development. Some familiar faces were in the crowd as students who have worked with us on their industrial placement year turned up as well as some who are due to start working with us in the summer.

Craig’s lecture covered a wide range of topics, starting with discussing the different types of I.T. roles. Rather than work in an I.T. department of a non-I.T. company, Craig encouraged the students to work in a software house such as ours where they will continue to learn constantly.

The development process was talked about as well, using our own as an example. Craig showed the FogBugz and Kiln systems we use to track developments. Using a prime number algorithm as an example, Craig illustrated the way we code; writing the interfaces and the tests before any implementation.

Drawing on a hypothetical situation of a student embarking on a start-up after graduating, Craig discussed the pros and cons of source control systems as a progression from lock based to conflict resolution and distributed version control systems.

Craig took the time to give the students some practical advice to prepare them for working in the fast-paced I.T. industry. First, work in teams at every opportunity. You will learn more from working with other people. Contribute to open source projects, showcase your skills and pick up knowledge from the current code. CodePlex, GitHub, SourceForge and Google Code are all great places to start. Keep up-to-date with the latest tech by reading blogs daily – Engadget, Tech Crunch, Scott Hanselman and Phil Haack were all recommended but there are endless amounts of others worth reading! Finally, consider attending events such as the upcoming Hack Manchester, putting your abilities up against others will motivate you to improve and you’ll learn invaluable skills at the hackathon.

During the question time, Craig was asked why we employ graduates. As we recruit based on potential, we look for a passion for software development and a dedication to continuous improvement and learning. We don’t restrict our recruitment to graduates; we are also open to applications from experienced professionals and anyone else with a certain level of knowledge and skill.

As you’ll be able to see for yourself here, the lecture was a great success and the students were genuinely engaged by what Craig had to say. Hopefully there will be more opportunities for guest lectures on the horizon as I know Craig enjoyed it too!

Follow us on Twitter @webappuk  for information about future events.