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Expanding my horizons with agile ways of working

In 2018 after graduating from the University Of Sheffield in Chemical Engineering, like many young people I was unsure exactly what kind of job I wanted. The idea that the perfect job relating to your degree will just automatically be available to you when you graduate is not exactly realistic.

Ultimately, you have to be open to new avenues and new learning in order to fulfil your potential. This is exactly the mindset that led me to join Mastek as a ‘Technology Graduate’ and delve into the world of software development.

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One of the great things about the Graduate Scheme at Mastek was the high quality training provided for over 3 months, something that was obviously important to me coming from a relatively different background. "

Mike Wood , Software engineer, Mastek.

One of the great things about the Graduate Scheme at Mastek was the high quality training provided for over 3 months, something that was obviously important to me coming from a relatively different background. We were taught by a highly experienced developer which made the learning experience much easier, adding to this was the pace of the teaching which was perfect to give people from any educational background the chance to understand things fully.

Training was focused on giving us experience in as many current programming languages and technologies used in the industry, which was useful as different companies and departments use a vast array of different systems and technologies. We started off with the more basic languages like HTML and CSS, then gradually moved on to more complex technologies like Python and Java, as well as integrating these with databases and working on full stack applications.

A full stack application combines several different types of technologies together into one application. For example, during training we were given a project to build a full stack application which stores and edits employee details. For this we used HTML and CSS for the User Interface (UI), Java was used for the logic of the application, MySQL was the database used to store the data, and these were connected together using a framework called Angular which was written in TypeScript.

The training also involved several team-based projects, where the focus was also on following agile principles. Daily stand-ups, Kanban boards and constant communication ensured that the team progressed as efficiently as possible and any errors or issues were quickly dealt with. This was also a great experience for how things are done when working with a client as most projects are team-based and agile principles are often a focus.

Once the training was complete it was then time to put our learning into action by going on-site with one of Mastek’s many clients. I, and several other graduates were allocated to work on projects for a leading supermarket chain at their main Headquarters.

While it was somewhat daunting to be thrown into the deep end, it was also exciting to be a part of such a major company and was a chance to prove my knowledge and the skills I had learned throughout the training. With a large company, there are so many different departments and different projects ongoing all the time, which meant that most of us ended up working on completely different projects and technologies.

One graduate was tasked with working on a Java-based full stack application, another took an opportunity as a business analyst, others were involved in testing roles, while I was given a role involving automating business processes using Google Apps Script. Google Apps Script is a JavaScript-based programming language which allows easy access to different google apps and features from within the code. This allows for a lot of innovative and incredibly useful scripting for Google G Suite applications like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Drive, etc.

One of the first major projects I was given involved making a script linked with Google Sheets that would take customer information entered and based on certain values would send each customer an email adding in individual, personalised information. This may initially sound like a simple mail merge but it involved working with different dates, which were analysed and used to determine exactly what to send and when, as well as working with quite complex authentication and different Google APIs.

This project was a big success and showed that by automating a previously manual task it saved the company significant amounts of money and time. It also meant that it kept security high and did not have to introduce any expensive third party tools. As this was working with real customer information it was a high responsibility task, with the work carried out solely by myself, so it was important that this worked correctly and it was a brilliant opportunity to show the value of Google Apps Script, myself and the Mastek graduate scheme.

Since working on these Google Apps Script projects I have now moved onto a new team with the same client. This has been another great learning opportunity as it has involved working with both Python and Java, bringing back my knowledge from the graduate training and expanding on it into a real setting using agile ways of working. Working on this team has allowed me to broaden my skills and gain insight from other team members, many of them have significant experience and vast knowledge to share. It has also given me the chance to work on further significant projects for the business, including more recently working on Covid-19 related issues such as enabling more stores to offer delivery to customers as well as click and collect.

This shows the importance of the work that Mastekeers provide and even though you may have less experience than others in the team, you are still respected and given tasks with high responsibility that allow you to develop your skills and career. Despite not completing a software-related degree, I am now certain the rest of my career lies in Software Development and I have no plans on changing that.

i am truly grateful for the learning and experience I have had so far and I am determined to make the best of it. As I progress in my role as a Mastek employee and representative I am being constantly challenged and given more responsibility, but at the same time there is always help available and everyone genuinely wants you to succeed.

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