I quite enjoyed my placement year with Cognito iQ. Throughout the placement year, I worked on the existing software products that company products. That included improving the performance and stability, as well as maintenance to ensure things are working. It was really fulfilling to know the fact that the work I was working on actually impacted and reached the software used in production by the customers.
After only a couple months into my placement year, once I had learnt about the technologies and tools being used and started working on tickets, I felt like the work that I was doing was important. With the responsibility that I was given and the type of work that I was working on, it meant that my team members and the product owner expected me to do really good quality work.
At the start of my placement year, my line manager was part of the development team that I joined. Although over the course of the placement year my line manager had to manage a couple other teams which meant that he wasn't as active as he was in my team as before. Throughout my placement year though, my line manager was there if I had any questions or problems that I had difficulty solving.
There definitely been days where I have really busy, but on the other hand, there have been times when especially near the end of the sprint there wasn't much work to do. The tickets could be only pulled into the sprint only if you feel like it can be completed by the sprint ends.
The responsibility that I was given was equal to my full-time team members. This at the beginning felt overwhelming as I wouldn't expect a placement student to given that much responsibility. However, the responsibility that I was given meant that the work that I was doing and I myself was valued and important.
I am confident that the skills and everything I've learned over the course of my placement year will assist in my final year for my degree. My placement year allowed me to take all the theory that I learnt during the first two years of my degree, and apply it to the real world. I got to see how a software product is delivered from the start of development to it being delivered to the customers. The skills I learnt from problem-solving to effective communication will definitely give me an edge in my studies and my career beyond.
The general atmosphere in the office was very friendly and welcoming. I was able to go to anyone and be able to have a conversation even someone like the CTO. There's always someone laughing and making jokes in the office, which means that the office is never dull. I quickly became very comfortable in my team and in the office.
I feel like since the company is very small, the company's ability to be able to construct a separate project for the placement students is difficult. The overall placement year seemed quite disorganised in the sense that once I was a part of my development team, I was just treated as a full-time employee. I feel like a focus on what the student learns is not focused upon. There are also no events like networking sessions, training sessions or hackathons; which makes the placement year less like a placement year but instead just a normal job.
The company believes in the best training to get stuck in and develop. For that reason, at the start of my placement year, there wasn't much training. However, an emphasis was put on me getting an AWS certification. The company invested in the training material and was willing to pay for the certification examination fees.
I believe that the cost of living in Newbury is really high. The best shot it to share a place with someone or a couple people to spread the cost of rent. I, unfortunately, ended up getting a one-bed studio flat since the other placement students had already found there places by the time I came around asking.
Newbury is a really quiet and frankly boring area. Since there isn't a university campus located inside Newbury, it is not the most interesting of places. Reading, on the other hand, is the complete opposite and only a 30 minute train away from Newbury station.