At the start of my third year of university I had arranged a work experience placement with Rooster Marketing, a digital marketing agency in Hampshire. I chose Rooster as they were a small agency and I liked the projects listed on their website; they are also the kind of company that I hope to get a job with when I leave university.
My time with Rooster has allowed me to experience the industry first hand and has shown me some of the skills required in the industry that is not always taught at university. Firstly, developers in a small agency need to be multi-skilled as they will be required to wear many different hats. From understanding multiple CMS systems to SEO, Flash and email marketing tools, a developer’s role can include various different aspects. To make yourself more employable when you leave university, you will need a good range of knowledge in a wide range of areas, not just coding.
Projects in a commercial environment are not given as much time to complete the projects that are set at university. This could be because you already have skills so do not need the additional learning time, or a client may want delivery asap. Whatever the reason, this is something to keep in mind. Another consideration is that it is likely that you will have more than one project happening at any one time; a developer needs to have good organisation and planning skills to keep on top of all that they are working on. Although this may sound like a negative point, I see this as a positive, as it means that your work will be varied and allow you to develop multiple skills rather than relying on just a few.
Working with other developers on the same project is something that I have not practised whilst at university. Rooster splits some projects so that one developer works on the back-end coding and another developer works on the front end and styling. This, no doubt, completes the project faster and more efficiently but new developers need to ensure that they keep their code tidy, well commented and descriptively named so that others can to pick it up to work on it without having to spend time on tidying your code first.
In a commercial environment, everyone has knowledge about varying subjects. This is invaluable to a project. Whilst at university, some subjects may be new to all everyone in the room but the lecturer, so any questions that arise are likely to only have the answers and viewpoint of that one lecturer. Although they may be correct, there may be other easier or simpler ways to do something. With a team of experts such as those at Rooster, a wealth of knowledge is available which can suggest a range of solutions to issues that arise. Having more than one opinion or solution means you will are able to reach the most appropriate solution.
After working with Rooster I feel more prepared to enter the industry as a developer. I am more aware of the soft skills required not just coding ability. Having other skills such as SEO experience, marketing experience and a range of software skills, will hopefully make me more employable in the future.
Thanks Rooster, for giving me the opportunity to work with you.