10 November 2022

The Software Engineering Student Experience Part 1

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Considering a Software Engineering Placement at GCD? Want to know what it’s really like? Then this is just the blog series for you. Jake and Scott recently completed their placements with us and have shared their thoughts on their time at GCD, first up is Jake.

My Time at GCD 

What have I learned?  

Looking back at the past year, I’ve pretty much come out the other side of learning the basics of software development as a whole! There are many stages within your own development process, from the  planning/write-ups, story creation, story-task creation/allocation to eventually producing and  delivering your work. It’s not as straightforward as writing a few lines of code, submitting and writing another few lines of code. 

Working in GCD has shown me the necessity of working in a team under time-constraints to successfully achieve each step in the development process. Furthermore, demoing and delivering your work is an entire hurdle itself, forcing the need to boost communication and any presenting skills (which has been a very welcome duty, as this is something I had a lack of experience with due to home-learning in my past two years of university, thanks to Covid). 

If I were to compare my knowledge of software development in terms of understanding and ability to that of before placement, I can firmly say that it has been an extremely stark increase, which I am proud of.  

What are my key takeaways?  

Apart from the knowledge I have gained as a whole, the other takeaways I gained from my software engineering placement year were around time keeping and communication. They’re not areas you’d initially expect to learn about, especially when discovering the ins and outs of the language you are writing. However, I found that my time-keeping skills improved and I found it interesting and enjoyable to beat my own personal records, what may once have taken a couple of days to complete, now only took a couple of hours. This  required the need to gain confidence in speaking and communicating with my peers, knowing when to ask for help (a lot more difficult than it sounds!!!) and keeping truthful in communicating with your Project Managers. This gain in confidence is again something I am extremely proud of, especially reflecting on the person I was a year ago who probably would’ve curled into a ball and shut down!  

I’m also now taking great enjoyment in the work that I produce daily, that’s not to say what I was doing in university wasn’t fun, but getting hands on with work that has a purpose and witnessing the outcomes of your hard effort is very rewarding.  

Why would I recommend a placement?  

Recently, I’ve had a few friends that are considering placement come to me and ask if it is worth their time taking an entire year out of university instead of continuing and finishing faster. I give the same answer every time, YES! If I’m being completely honest, I genuinely can say,  without a doubt, that my software engineering placement has given me a MUCH more valuable experience than the other three years of university could ever provide. 

Now perhaps I’m biassed as I’ve just completed a placement, but without it I would never have gained an understanding of what a career is like in software engineering. There’s always a sense of blind sightedness when studying at university, how will it help in a professional job? What will that look like, and will it be enjoyable? 

Placement answers those questions for you. Getting the  opportunity to work on REAL projects in a REAL working environment will give you an incomparable  amount of experience. It enables your brain to see the connections with the modules you’ve studied, giving insight into how university is assisting you in your career. 

After the past year and having reached the finish line, I can now look back with clear evidence on how far I’ve come, but also knowing with great excitement that I am certain of what I want to do after graduation.  

My favourite part of the experience?  

Looking back on what I enjoyed most in my time in GCD, it would have to be getting thrown in the deep end and the opportunity to have proper hands-on software development experience. Meeting and getting to know my peers, absorbing all the knowledge that I can from them, whilst having a sense of pride in what we are developing collectively and in knowing the work reaches the highest possible standard. 

Applying for a placement at GCD, will definitely be a decision that I will be forever glad I made.