The group-based projects I completed on my course were great practice for the real thing
What are your main responsibilities?
I write code for the Android app that serves Gousto's customers.
Can you describe a typical day?
I usually write new features for the app in Kotlin. If I'm not coding, I'm writing up tickets to complete, in planning meetings with my colleagues, or trying to fix things that break.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role or your greatest achievement so far?
I get a lot of responsibility in my role and coming to the company as their 5th android dev means that I make up 20% of the app. It's really rewarding to deliver new features that help drive the business, my biggest achievement so far has been working with a couple engineers and designers on our rating platform. We like our customers to give detailed reviews of their meals so that we can feed that data back to our recommendation engine. It was a great mix of updating a really old UI and cleaning up a lot of old code and writing brand new code in our preferred architecture pattern. I managed to increase our user engagement from 10% to 30% in the space of a couple months and that data is going to be really useful for our Data Scientists to build ML models from, which will in turn give our users better suggestions for recipes and make our customers more satisfied with our service.
Are there any challenging aspects? If so what are they?
Having been a software engineer for almost 3 years, I'm realising that while my programming knowledge is growing, there are many other factors that contribute to making me a great software engineer. I rarely struggle with the programming like I used to as a junior dev, and so the challenges I take on are bigger. For example we need better UI testing on our app, it's a pain to write them in our current framework (which is a few years old now) and even the ones we do write are flakey (sometimes we get false positives, false negatives, etc). So the challenges I face now are more around researching potential solutions, figuring out which of those solutions would best fit our time/resource constraints, and then presenting my findings to other engineers/product managers so that we can all devise a implementation plan.
What skills/qualifications from your degree or other training do you make use of in your job?
The group-based projects I completed on my course were great practice for the real thing. You learn to figure out how to use the software tools like Git, use Agile (if it works for your team), get good at communicating with your team mates, and really treat the group projects as if it was a real professional work experience. I think you get out of them as much as you put in.
How have these skills or your course made a difference in your career?
Those group-projects are similar to what you experience in the real world, if you don't enjoy them then that's okay too, just figure out what you don't like about them and try and communicate it with your team if they can help. At my workplace, we will have an hour session every 2 weeks to discuss what improvements we can make to our ways of working so that everyone is included and supported.
Why did you choose to study at Sheffield?
I wanted to get away from the South, and Sheffield is right on the doorstep of the peak district so while I felt like I was living in a vibrant city, I always had the countryside really close by.
Did your time at Sheffield meet your expectations?
Absolutely, I loved my time at Sheffield and am so glad I studied there.
What were the best things about studying in the Department?
I joined just after the Diamond building was completed, so it was great to have those cushy study spaces and lecture theatres while I was there. My lecturers were all extremely knowledgable about their subjects and I found they were all helpful and approachable when I needed help from them.
What you have done since leaving University?
I worked at a Capital One for 2 years on their graduate scheme, it gave me a cool look into the financial world of tech, how big businesses operate, and was a great spring board for my career. Since then I've been at Gousto as an android engineer where I have learned so much from talented and friendly people. I joined as the 5th android engineer in the team and are expecting to reach 10 engineers by this summer, so it's been great to start in a team that is growing as the business grows, and that kind of tangible progress really gives me fulfilment in my job, knowing that I contribute in a big way to the success of my company.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I used to think I wanted to go into management but I don't think I would enjoy that kind of work anymore. I'm heading in the direction of a lead developer and I think I would enjoy that kind of role, but ultimately I think I would want to start my own company or make my own apps for a living.
If you could give one piece of advice to current students or recent graduates what would it be?
Enjoy your time and make the most of it. Try and get on a summer placement if you can, because that really helped jumpstart my career. If you can't, work on a project over the summer, individually or with a friend, and put it on your GitHub profile. Employers will be glad to see you've created something in your own time. Take a look back at some big assignments you've completed when you get a chance and see how you would improve your own code, if you can. It helps to see just how much you've progressed when you look at code you wrote 3 years ago and can rewrite it a lot better.
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