I chose to do a placement year as I wasn’t 100% certain what I wanted to do when I graduated. As a computing science student at Aberdeen University, I attended various career events and was quite overwhelmed by the choice of careers; software developer, system analyst, business analyst, systems designer, technical writer, software engineer… I wasn’t entirely sure what the difference between these job titles were, never mind which one fitted me the most! A placement year appeared to be the perfect opportunity to try a particular path and get to know it a bit better before committing myself to it with a three year graduate scheme.
With that in mind, I started at Codify as a software developer in June 2012 and about six months later I was telling them they weren’t getting rid of me easily. I chose to come to Codify because they were a small, quirky company who focused on using the .NET framework well. .NET was never mentioned during my degree and it wasn’t something I had spent too much time with in my spare time. My opinion was if I was going to delay graduating by a year, I was going to learn as much as I could that wasn’t part of my degree. And I certainly did that.
A year and a half later, I can now add C#, Silverlight, Windows Forms, WPF, SQL Server, WCF, RDLC and a few other .NET buzzwords to my skillset. In fact, my time at Codify has even converted me from using my former language of choice - Java, to the extent that I was telling potential honours projects supervisors at uni to dream on if they thought I would be using Java in my project.
Aside from improving my technical skills a lot, I have learned a lot about the IT industry in general. From knowing a lot more about the roles that I didn’t work in, such as project management and business analysis, to the processes that a project or support work goes through before it meets the customer. I can now apply this process to my honours project and hopefully that will knock the grade up a band or two!
More importantly, I’ve also learned that IT professionals love cake. I baked SO much cake during my placement year… still didn’t quite master decorating them as if I wasn’t a small child though.
I found my placement very enjoyable and rewarding. I met some great people and got involved with some really interesting projects. Gaining experience working on real, live projects in the support team has meant that my understanding of .NET and software development skills in general have really benefited. I would recommend a placement year to any student who wasn’t sure what they wanted to do when they graduated or who just wanted to learn a tonne of new things. My only tip is to learn how to bake, invest in a good alarm for the early mornings and brace yourself for the weekly fire alarm test.
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