Essentially the same as a software developer with significantly less expectations required and much higher emphasis on learning
I greatly enjoyed my placement year, it was well structured with adequate support and resources whenever I needed. My main goal for placement was met, which was increased exposure to industry and to further my education in prep for final year. These goals were met in full and then some more.
It was hard work at times, but yes, enjoyable.
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I had a different experience than most placement students who have come and gone from PCMS. The majority of students stay within HQ in Coventry, however I ventured out to the satellite office in Huntingdon.
It is a different environment as the office is much smaller. I can happily say I know every member of the team in the office and general home life.
I was given a high level of support and guidance by my manager. There are formal 1 to 1 meetings monthly where any issues can be discussed and feedback is given. But if I need them at any point they're contactable. We followed Agile Scrum methodology so daily update and team progress was given every morning.
It was a pleasant learning curve at the beginning where the work reflected our level of knowledge about the systems. As we became more familiar with the tools work increased and by October I'd begun to work at a consistent team level. The work flow kept in turn with our 2 week sprint cycles, ramping up and decreasing from the start to the end.
In whole I was given more responsibility than I first thought I'd get before starting placement. I'd like to make it clear that I wasn't overburdened with it however. I took scrums, retros and maintained my own feature branches while at PCMS. I was given the opportunity whenever it arose to volunteer for more responsibility which I chose to do on several occasions where time permitted.
I would rate myself as a pretty competent student before placement. By no means top of my year, but I had a strong grasp of the concepts and a passion to learn what I didn't know.
When I started placement it became quickly apparent the tricks and short cuts that would be quite at home within a university assignment would not pass code review in industry. The standard and consideration I now give to system resources has greatly improved, with overall quality having shot up.
Practical skills are not the only thing thats improved, my knowledge of industry and the ideas that I'll pursue after university have also been shaped. I wouldn't have had that insight if I hadn't spent a year working with highly experienced developers.
It was a very lively office. Both teams I worked on have two different atmospheres, but both are hilarious and character is most certainly not lacking.
When the work comes in there is definitely a change to focus and professional problem solving, but any questions will still be met with a smile and probably a joke.
Very well organised and structured. I personally felt like I had a place and role to fill, at no point was I left not knowing anything. There were times when I didn't know exactly what to do, but thats the fun of being the student right? I'm not meant to know! I could happily ask someone who worked in that respective area or role. It very easy and set out for you, yet not rigid.
In honest truth, far more than I anticipated considering it was also a paid role. Training wise I was given formal training initially with a few seminars and a week-long introduction by a previous placement student, now senior developer. Whenever I moved to my team for the next 5 months I was given a mentor, who answered basically all my questions. And believe me, there were a lot of questions (sorry Sean).
I think that time alone was worth its weight in gold, and its the difference between reading something in a book and actually experiencing it first hand, context is everything.
Moving on wards to a new team I again had a mentor, however at this stage I could happily ask anyone best suited to answer my issue. Even architects were available and reachable, though they are immensely busy.
A 10 is classified that I have a job with them. At this point in time I actually am not aware if thats the case. I would very much consider a role with PCMS after my graduation, whether that be immediately or in the future. I have enjoyed working with them, both within and outside of my team.
I was initially in Coventry for 2 months where we lived in a paid for shared house for 1 month. I would say we socialised and went out quite a lot, much more so than I usually would. Moving to Huntingdon separated me from the other placement students, and unfortunately I didn't visit the Coventry office often.
It was perfect for me regardless, as I am not particularly big into the social scene. I enjoyed playing PC games with one of the graduate developers on the weekend which was really fun.
Living costs in Huntingdon are relatively cheap. Its quite close to Cambridge, enough so that you can go shopping on the weekend however too far for a casual trip.
Social life consists of local pubs, however there is a spoons, thats pretty much the highlight of it. If you want to do things I advise going to Cambridge, but its very expensive.
Essentially non-existent, but that suited me perfectly. I enjoy a drink with my friends with a bit of live music, which you can find in a pub (and you can certainly find plenty of those). But as far as I'm aware there aren't any clubs, none that are declared on Google maps anyway..
Overtime? There were generally no work related activities outside of the usual Christmas party and family fare. Not that you'd want to initially anyway, everyone was exhausted adjusting to full-time work. As someone who worked full-time previously even I was surprised at how tired you get after a day of learning, it can be very intense but also very rewarding. This does lessen as you get more comfortable with the tools and standards.