In May 2017, we had our first industry student placement; studying for a degree in BSc Software Development for Business at Oxford Brookes University.
We first met Liam when he joined us on work experience in 2015 as part of his BTEC Computer Science course at Abingdon & Witney College. We knew from the offset, that he was someone we wanted to work with at Webexpenses.
The placement year
During his placement year, Liam worked as a full-time member of our Software Development team; working on the live system.
At the start of his placement, he received a full induction covering the role and the business. This is the same approach as when hiring a permanent member of the team. He was then introduced to the languages we use to develop in. This involved machine set-up, applying test programmes, involvement in both theoretical and practical elements and involvement in production level work.
Working in code
Our team of developers work in a collaborative environment using Agile methodology. Through this process, Liam learned the importance of communication.
The sprint process is fast-paced and clear communication is imperative to enable each team to complete its tasks and produce deliverables within the time frame. Having some knowledge of Agile from his university course was therefore useful.
Learning to work independently was another area where Liam developed his working practices as, over time, the level of responsibility increases. Initially, all work was undertaken in a test environment and then reviewed. As Liam’s level of competency increased so did the level of trust and responsibility. He began to have access to the live environment and involvement in production quality work.
Starting out as a Junior Software Developer
Liam started a full-time position with us as a Junior Software Developer after he’d graduated in 2019.
Coming back as an employee, he learned the process of how code is structured and deployed as this had changed since his placement year.
He had some exposure to Agile during his placement year and through his studies, but this was now fully embedded into the development function with the team all working in their individual Sprint teams.
Using the Agile methodology instead of Waterfall, Software Developers and Testers work in smaller teams in 2-week sprints. Together they estimate how long a piece of work will take to complete and then build and test this over a 2 week period.
The whole cycle from development to testing, code review and regression testing takes place within the sprint teams. On the other hand, Waterfall Developers work on larger pieces of development which are then tested at the end.
Liam says, “I like Agile. It’s smaller chunks of work and you can see the progress bar moving up. With Waterfall, it’s harder to track as the units of work are bigger.”
Progressing into Software Developer
In April 2021, Liam progressed into the position of Software Developer.
As a developer, Liam now mentors a Junior Software Developer. Acting as a mentor for a junior member of the team means that Liam is learning to develop other skills outside of being a Developer. This includes clear communication, training, and support.
Liam’s aim is to continue learning and building on his knowledge, with his sights set on progressing to the role of Senior Developer.
How has Liam enjoyed his journey at Webexpenses so far?
“I’m really glad to have found this opportunity all those years ago when I first came to do my work experience. I also enjoy being able to socialise with everyone.”