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How ScreenCloud Makes Work Experience... Work!
Here at ScreenCloud, we’re proud advocates of developing our employees. Our organisational levelling ensures a constantly visible career path for all ScreenClouders (and their line managers). This starts by creating exciting and meaningful entry level positions.
We recently launched Work Experience programmes at ScreenCloud. In order to provide our future high-performers with useful, compelling and real-life experiences within a SaaS scale-up, we carefully craft Work Experience in any department that can provide a rewarding programme. Our Talent Acquisition Manager caught up with Peter, who joined us in January as an Associate QA with our Belfast Engineering team.
Read on to hear how he went from student to full-time employee within a matter of months, and to hear Peter’s advice for anyone looking to make the most of work experience, to break into an exciting role in the tech industry!
I’d love it if you could start by sharing a bit about yourself and in particular, what you were doing before joining ScreenCloud.
Pre-COVID, I was working for a SaaS company called Teamwork. I secured the role at Teamwork via a Government programme, called Shared Skills. Shared Skills was created to help individuals level-up their skills and get into industry; I was in a Shared Skills cohort specifically for roles in software. I went into an academy with approximately 30 people to start with and they whittled it down to 11 of us, who they hired for roles in Support. Unfortunately, like many, Teamwork was impacted by the pandemic and they had to downsize the company. Sadly our team ended up experiencing redundancies.
I then took the opportunity to go back into education for a foundation degree in Software Engineering.
During my second year, my University communicated an opportunity for work-based learning; a period of three months to complete a related work placement. I had previously worked with Ciaran Murray (ScreenCloud’s Head of Customer Support) in my role at Teamwork. Ciaran and I had stayed in touch and when the subject of work experience came up, we got the ball rolling, I spoke to Michael (one of ScreenCloud’s Directors of Engineering), and then you know, the rest is history!
What did your work experience mean to you?
The work experience proved to be invaluable from day one, from onboarding at ScreenCloud and getting to initial grips with everyday tools & systems, to the processes using GitHub and Slack, agile methodologies, stand-up meetings and cross-functional teams coming together. These are things that you don't get exposure to on the course I was on. It was really, really good to see just how all those different parts came together. When you’re learning and you’re working on projects end-to-end (the full spectrum of engineering, from back end to front end, etc.) you can get overwhelmed and wonder “Is this what I'll have to do if I’m a programmer?” My work experience at ScreenCloud was great for many reasons, including proving that developers are given the time and space to really focus and go deep on challenges in order to get the work done and build the best solutions
Do you think your Work Experience will give you an advantage going into industry?
Yeah, I definitely do. There's a lot of stuff that would be industry standard that Screencloud uses, like GitHub, and AWS (Amazon Web Services). I’ve been able to get to grips with all of the tables, using DynamoDB and CloudWatch, checking the logs etc.. It's all part and parcel of modern software development, so it makes a big difference. I could now confidently say at a job interview “yeah, I've already used GitHub; I know how to pull down a repo and run it locally.”
I’m doing things that I wouldn’t have had a chance to do on my course; I've been using API endpoints, setting up different scenarios to test to make sure things are working and then checking the logs. I've learned more than I expected and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Did your work experience meet your expectations? Was it what you imagined it would be?
I received lots of information upfront which was great; I was given a great overview of the work experience program including a preliminary pack which outlined the three months and what exactly I should expect in month one, month two, month three. It didn’t quite pan out exactly as is, because you can’t predict exactly the type of bugs you’ll have in QA (for example there weren’t any critical bugs for me to work on at one point!) However, the placement was delivered as closely to the plan as possible.
What has it been like transitioning from your work experience programme, to now being a permanent member of the ScreenCloud team?
When I first started my work experience programme and came into the business, I wasn’t treated any differently to anyone else joining, even though I was a temporary employee. Everybody's been really approachable and they all want to work together to get the work done; people don't silo themselves in their teams and there’s always someone around to help! There’s been times where the work has been really simple but, you know, it’s because it is what has to be done, but not because I’ve been a work experience person! When the harder or bigger challenges do come down the line, they are also thrown my way and I am included in that.
On another note, I’ve actually experienced a bit of impostor syndrome! Coming into the business from a foundation degree course and then being offered a permanent job as an Associate QA Engineer was brilliant, but I wasn't expecting a job offer! I kind of struggled a little bit at the start wondering if I was way out of my depth - but I think I've come to grips with it now and I’m really settling in!
What advice would you give to someone considering applying to work experience at ScreenCloud?
I would just say be honest about what you really want to get out of it. There’s no point going into a placement and deliberately putting yourself into somewhere where you’re in over your head, or getting involved just for the sake of having working experience.
Be honest, show up and give 100%.
Anna Thomas, Talent Acquisition Manager
Anna is our Talent Acquisition Manager based in our London hub! When she’s not doing all things recruitment related and helping to hire awesome ScreenClouders into the business, she’s getting crafty… did you know she did a furniture degree?! Anna has also recently purchased a bike, so if you keep an eye out, you may just see her whizzing around the roads of South West London!