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Work experience week with Anish and Jackie

Published: 11 July 2019

Last week we had Anish and Jackie, two GCSE students, from Guildford join us for their end of year work experience. Since they’re both considering careers in software, we wanted to give them an understanding of both how software products are developed, and how other teams in the company market, sell and support the result. We set them to work on a specific project of their own, to gain experience of the multiple aspects of software creation.

Anish and Jackie began their week with the service delivery team to setup a pair of routers they would be developing and testing against. Following this, they worked with the product team to break down the problem using user requirements and creating user stories. Both students then set about implementing the software to address these user stories. The week concluded with a demonstration of their work meeting the initial requirements.

Following a successful week, we spoke to both Anish and Jackie to find out their thoughts.

Why did you choose Highlight?

Our school organised our work experience. We were given a list of places to choose from and Highlight stood out for us since it was one of the few companies on the list that was in the technology industry.

Why do you have an interest in technology?

We like the logical aspect when it comes to technology and like to know how things work. Our initial interest stemmed from spending a lot of time on computers, playing video games and attending an after-school computer science club. We’ve also coded a little bit of Python and Java in our own time. Technology is an industry where you can earn a lot of money so it’s exciting to see how far and quickly you can progress too.

What was your mix of time like?

We spent most of our time in development but that’s because we specifically wanted to focus our efforts there. We came with the logic that if we’re having our work experience in a technology company then we should work in that side of the business. However, we did get to meet everyone from other departments and get a taste for what they do. We quite liked the sound of product and operations and how these teams work with the development team.

How would you describe Highlight as a company?

Generally, the environment was pretty laid back and not rigid. Everyone was friendly, understanding, explained things well and helped with settling us in.

What have you learned from this experience

We’ve actually seen how a business works, and all the separate areas required to run it effectively. We had no idea what to expect before we came to Highlight. Our programming knowledge has also improved, and we also learned about the ticket system that operations use, the sales pipeline as well all of the activities that marketing carries out.

What were the best things about your week?

  • Gaining new programming knowledge and having a challenge which we can take away and use to expand on in the future
  • Having individual workstations and the independence to get on with our own work
  • Learning about user stories and the process used to solve problems using principle that can also be applied outside of technology

Richard Thomas, CEO at Highlight, says “It was great to watch Anish and Jackie diving into the project we gave them. The fact that both had already spent some spare time coding helped a lot, and so we wanted to show them how those skills fit into the development of a modern software product, and how a business works overall.

We were impressed with how quickly the guys got to grips with the technology. A lot of “work experience” ends up being just looking over someone’s shoulder as they do their job, and we wanted to avoid that by giving our ‘temps’ an actual project that they could build and deliver themselves. It meant a steep learning curve over the first couple of days, but by the end of the week they were able to jointly present their work, and talk through what they’d done. Smart guys, enquiring minds, good work ethic – a great combination and we enjoyed having them.”