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Q&A with Kat from Dev!

By Katharine Huxham on Mon 15 August 2022 in Placement Blog

Nearly a year on from her first day, Kat reflects on her time at ProspectSoft as a Dev placement!

What’ve you enjoyed most about your placement?

A year on from joining ProspectSoft as an Assistant Developer, and I can honestly say I’ve learnt so much. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside incredibly supportive individuals, who’ve offered regular guidance whether this be in daily stand-ups, meetings or the constant 1-1 assistance with my line manager. Every 3 weeks, the Dev team release a new version of the software and even from the beginning of the placement, we were given the same levels of responsibility as our seniors, which has been great for boosting confidence and getting stuck in.

One aspect I’ve particularly enjoyed has been working alongside the other Development placements – Georgi and Cameron. We’ve been on-hand to offer each other constant support and advice throughout, so it’s been great having them by my side! Knowing that there are others in the exact same boat as you can make all the difference transitioning from student life to full-time work and meant we all settled in very quickly. From the start of the placement to now a year on, it’s been great to see how we’ve all grown both individually and professionally.

A hugely rewarding aspect of the role has been the satisfaction that comes with completing a difficult task, which later gets rolled out as a new feature used by Prospect customers. I’ve loved then hearing their feedback, especially when the task involved completely new UX designs that I’ve developed personally. Inevitably, fixing bugs can result in others being created, but having the ability to diagnose them and work them through until they’re marked as ‘resolved’ is a great feeling!

After the initial 3 months of settling in and receiving training, we were given the flexibility to work hybrid. Us technical placements have all shared a house this year, and were lucky enough to find one close to the office. So, for us, we’ve found the balance of working from home and in the office a great mix and boosted our productivity.

What are the key skills you’ve learned and how will you use these going forward?

University can take you so far with theory and practice, but it doesn’t give you the level of expertise that’s gained from experiencing how software is developed in a scrum environment. Through the use of Jira and Trello, we’re able to see how fixes and new features go from planning right through to being prioritised into a sprint and then onto release to live customers. Selecting tasks from your team’s sprint to work on gives you a real sense of responsibility that you may not get elsewhere - giving you the chance to challenge yourself with something that you may not be familiar with.

It’s also interesting to learn how front-end and back-end development interweave to create an integrated web application used by many - something that I wouldn’t have seen simply by completing specific assignments at University on modules that don’t overlap each other. I was familiar with HTML, SQL, and C# before, but since Uni, I’ve learnt how to use Typescript and Vue.js (the programming language and framework widely used by developers) to create web applications.

Doing a placement that has involved web development has inspired my choice of final year project - working on a project management system that combines database and web technology. This is something that I’m really looking forward to as I feel that I already have the knowledge to get me started in the right direction. Plus, it’ll test how much I can recall when trying to create something almost from scratch using the same sort of framework.

What’s your advice to future students considering this role?

You don’t need to be an expert in every programming language and framework to work in web development, but some knowledge of HTML, SQL, and JavaScript will definitely help to move you in the right direction (and it certainly makes a difference when it comes to being successful in the Assessment Centre!). Programming training in what you need to know for the role will be provided and is easy to pick up, even if you haven’t had a module on web development at University.

Whilst you’ll get full training of how our CRM and CMS work, learning more about the business, customers and software beforehand will make the application process a lot smoother and help you feel in control. It’s a good thing to be curious - especially when you have the opportunity to work on something quite complex that also integrates with other systems such as Unleashed and Xero.

But my main piece of advice is to not shy away from any challenge you may face in either the application process or even on the job – sure it’ll seem daunting at first, but it’s a chance to learn something new and will be rewarding in the long run!

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