This review was submitted over 4 years ago, so some of the information it contains may no longer be relevant.
Having been employed at several companies over the years, I can honestly say Lighthouse is the best place I have ever worked at. Everyone here is friendly, relaxed and always willing to help. There is always plenty to keep you busy, but having fun is also high on the agenda. I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement year and would recommend working here to anyone.
Everyone at Lighthouse is treated as part of an equal team, collectively working towards the goal of improving our software product and growing the company. We are a relatively small (but growing) team and you will get to know the names of people and the job role they perform, which helps with social cohesion and feeling valued. I was regularly tasked with fixing problems or adding new features for specific people, and I always felt that my effort was appreciated.
After moving out of training, my manager assigned me the task of doing quality assurance testing to help build my knowledge of our core product and to introduce me to the tools required to manage my work. Later, I was assigned some easy development tasks containing written instructions on how to implement them. Over time as my knowledge grew, these became more complex until I gained the confidence to work on most things unaided. This gentle introduction really helped me to settle in and plenty of help was always available when required, whether face-to-face or via email\Skype. Lighthouse operate a mentoring scheme where I had monthly meetings and was offered guidance on any areas I was weak on. We also had meetings each morning where we could discuss problems and support each other as part of a group. In short, if you work here you will not need to worry about feeling out of your depth as help will always be available and everyone expects you have lots of questions.
Lighthouse is a growing company so there is always plenty of work to keep you occupied. I worked in the development team where every 2 weeks we assigned ourselves tasks for the group to work on. The amount of time each task should take is estimated during this process to help us ensure we maximise our productive time as much as possible. In addition, there are bug reports and feature requests coming in daily, so you will never be bored. At the end of every 4 weeks we would release the latest version of our software, and I became involved with quality assurance testing. This was a more relaxed pace from doing development work and helped keep things interesting.
My responsibility level increased over time as my knowledge and experience improved. I started my placement doing quality assurance testing under the guidance of an experienced tester, and then gradually moved on to implementing complex new features and fixing bugs. Our software is used in mission critical situations around the world, so regardless of what type of work you do, there is always a strong emphasis to ensure it is done well. This responsibility helps to make the work even more enjoyable.
Working for Lighthouse has exposed me to a wide range of skills that have better prepared me for the future. From a technical perspective, I have discovered the C# and Typescript programming languages, both of which are modern and powerful. I also gained experience using Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, along with better overall SQL knowledge. I also developed many broader skills. For example, I have developed good knowledge of using debuggers and I am now familiar with using industry standard tools such as Microsoft TFS and Visual studio, and working in an Agile development environment. I am now planning to use the technical knowledge I have gained for my university project and the industry experience should help me secure work after getting my degree.
The atmosphere varied depending on what work we had on. At times when we were under pressure, people typically put their head down and focused on what they were doing. During less busy periods there was plenty of light humoured banter and discussion going on. The office is air conditioned which is great during the summer and everyone is provided with large desks and monitors which makes for a very pleasant working environment. The atmosphere was friendly at all times and any problems were tackled through thoughtful discussion and debate.
The whole process was smooth from start to finish. The interview day was well organised and welcoming. All new employees (graduates and placement students) started on the same day and went through the same training process, which was well structured and concise. After training, I was introduced to working life in a way that made it an easy transition. My manager was always happy to read and sign a monthly log book which I required for university and the mentoring process is designed to fit in well with coursework. Towards the end of the placement I was informed in good time that I could have a contract extension and Lighthouse were flexible about fitting my final leaving date around a time suitable for me.
Working from home
Lighthouse look after their staff and is a rapidly growing company, which makes it an enticing future prospect with good job security. There are two different departments to work in, both of which suit different tastes. The Development department is office based and is focused on improving the core product. The Implementation department is more customer facing and involves implementing custom solutions for clients, and can involve travelling to various locations around the world.
After work on Fridays many people go to the local pub to have fun and socialise. If the weather is nice, beer and drinks are provided on premises and we sit outside on picnic tables to enjoy the sun. Some people meet after work to watch films and play games, and some even live together. At lunch times people eat together or go out walking or jogging. In short, there is a good social scene here.
I am fortunate that I live at home close to Lighthouse and did not need to relocate, but I am aware the cost of renting is high in this area. To keep costs down you may need to flat share or rent somewhere small. Lighthouse is located away from public transport and it is best to get here by car, so you will need to factor that into your living costs. There is a wide range of entertainment available in the nearby towns\cities (Brighton, Crawley, London) so when it comes to socialising, shopping or eating out, you should find something to fit your budget.
If night life is your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to find it in nearby Crawley, London and Brighton. My personal experience is of living close to Brighton, which is well known for its food scene and nightlife, and comes alive when the bars and clubs open until late. It is well known for being youthful and quirky and you will almost certainly find something to your taste.
Social events are a regular thing at Lighthouse and range from bowling nights to meals out. At Christmas we enjoyed an overnight stay in a posh hotel with a meal and disco, which partners were also invited to. At the time of writing, we are soon due to have a team building event, which includes a hotel stay near Windsor Castle, a trip down the Thames and an evening meal.
Placement Year (10 Months+)