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A Day in the Life - Polly

Trainee Software Engineer (Hungerford, UK)


After studying A Level Computing and practicing programming in my free time, I knew that a computer-based job was what I wanted, however I just wasn’t sure in what direction I wanted to go. So I completed a Higher National Certificate in Computing and System Development and worked part-time all the while looking through University courses to see what grabbed my eye, as I felt that to have the best jobs available a degree was the only option.

I began a degree but quickly found it did not suit me or the way my brain works. I stopped my course prematurely and was weighing up my options when I found an advert from Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) in the newspaper looking for students at HNC/HND level to work for them and study. Having only finished the HNC and decided University wasn’t for me, it fit to what I was looking for perfectly.

Describe a typical day

Seven months in, a typical day is never just a typical day! I am a member of the Tiger Team, our maintenance team focuses on responding to matters reported by our customers through our Support Call Centre. We deal with the resolution of software queries for customers that are currently live and using our software to run their businesses, so we need to react quickly. These queries can range from a spelling mistake, or a blank report, to a challenge with a program that can cause certain processes to behave incorrectly.

The first stage of working out the challenge is replicating it. Once I’ve done that I would begin to step through the code in the related area of the system, following variables and values that are passed through to find any indication as to what could be causing the problem. This can take any amount of time from an hour upwards and is a real challenge that I enjoy.

Once the issue has been identified, I would work on what solution would be least disruptive for the customer. This is important, as we don’t want to cause any interruption to our customer using the system while we resolve the problem. Sometimes, using what is already available and seeing how the process could be handled elsewhere in the system can give you real inspiration!

Documentation is the next step after I’ve thoroughly tested the functionality of the area I was coding. It’s interesting that writing out the process of how to replicate the issue can help you notice things you may not have considered previously.

Code review is an important part of my job, no matter how big or small the change ended up being. The Development Team regularly peer review each other’s code (it’s not as scary as it sounds!) which helps make sure the code written is not only correct but also efficient, neat and makes sense to other coders.

Having been working with the Tiger Team for 5 months, I’ve worked on and succeeded in meeting a lot of challenges. I love to answer any questions to do with these, whether it be from QA, the Support Team, or other Developers.

How have you found your time at KCS?

Working in such a diverse company and office means that no matter what question I have, everybody is more than happy to help, even if it is just by pointing me in the right direction of the person who knows best about my query.

The diversity means that no two days are the same and investigating subjects, although it might sound repetitive, can require different tactics to reach the answer to a problem.

I would say the biggest challenge I’ve had working at KCS is to not let myself feel intimidated. Working in an office surrounded by a lot of people who are more experienced – in relation to KCS and the industry – can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes. This has quickly been overcome by the friendliness of every employee I’ve had the pleasure of working with and the ease with which I’ve been accepted into the company.

How have we supported your development?

Since the beginning of my training, I’ve had a Developer Mentor assigned to me to help with any coding, work practice, and personal questions, and this has made the process so much more enjoyable. He has been a teacher, mentor, a friend and everything else he could possibly be, not only throughout my training but even now. I know that no matter the question, he will be more than happy to set aside some time for me.

Being of a slightly lower starting level alongside the two Graduates I began my training with, everyone was very conscious of ensuring I wasn’t struggling with the pace of the training process. I had regular mentor meetings and HR were an amazing shoulder to lean on when I was feeling a little embarrassed about my lack of knowledge and the speed I was picking things up. Although I’ve been called the ‘guinea-pig’ for this scheme, I’ve felt anything but. Nobody has made me feel like less of an employee because I don’t have a degree or ignored my opinion because of my lack of experience. In fact, coming in almost as a ‘blank canvas’ has proven to be very beneficial because I have no previous hang-ups when working with KCML and picking up the techniques and standards used throughout K8 has not been overly challenging.

Since I first joined KCS, the educational path I’ll be going through has changed significantly. It was originally thought I would go on to complete the second year to achieve the Diploma in Computer and System Development, however after finding the Accounts side of the system instead of the Trading side more appealing, it has been agreed that the AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting Level 2 would be more beneficial for both myself and KCS as a whole. In this I will be getting no software or coding experience, however this has not remotely been an issue.

What are your tips for others who’d like to join KCS?

Don’t be afraid or feel like you’re “not quite there yet”. KCS have set up their Apprentice and HNC/HND scheme for people who would like to work and study at the same time so there is never any pressure as to what level you’re coming in at, they really ensure it is dealt with on a case by case basis.

Everybody is more than happy to support, assist, and give you feedback if and when you feel stuck.

Everybody in the company has come from different backgrounds, taking such diverse routes that no matter how you learn and work, there is always somebody to bounce ideas and questions against.

View our Apprentice, Trainee and Graduate information.

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