Case study

Junior software developer — Oliver Dunn

After graduating with a BSc Computer Games Programming from Kingston University, Oliver landed a junior software developer role with building maintenance software company SFG20

How did you find and apply for your job with SFG20?

I was put in contact with my manager through a mutual connection. We both have a background in games programming, and he had kindly offered to review my CV and provide insights into transitioning into commercial software, which is where I'd decided I wanted my career to go. I had the opportunity to apply for a role here, and the work aligned with my career aspirations.

What are your day-to-day tasks?

Our days typically consist of meetings and working on tickets, pieces of work that can range from anything between fixing problems with the software in its current state, to developing new features.

There are always other members of the team ready to assist where necessary, so on some days you can find yourself jumping in and out of calls as you tackle the problems together.

We operate on a flexible schedule consisting of some core hours, where all members of the team are expected to be working. Outside of these hours you are free to work whenever you wish. If you make up your weekly hours, it doesn't matter whether that's at 1am or 1pm.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

I believe in what we do here and I'm part of a bright and talented team, which acts as an integral link in a value chain. What we build, goes on to have a tangible impact on society, improving safety and touching many people's lives. I'm not sure if there's a more fulfilling feeling in the world than to contribute to society and have fun in the process.

Regarding software development in general, every week I have something I like to describe as a 'woah' moment - something new and something challenging that I'm unfamiliar with. I may reach out to a senior person, or I may require guidance in tackling the problem, but a way round the issue is always found.

What I love the most about my profession is the perpetual cycle of growth. There is always something more to learn, you are always learning something new. One day you see a problem you think you may not be able to solve, and the next day you prove yourself wrong. Every day you face the impossible, and you find a way to win.

What aspects do you find challenging?

Imposter syndrome is especially prevalent in software development. Software is a pit of infinite depth, with every new thing you learn, you develop an increasing awareness of how much there is left that you don't know, and how murky the pit gets.

What are your biggest achievements so far?

I haven't been in my role long, but while I was attending a new product demonstration to prospective clients, someone mentioned a feature in the new application and stated it was 'amazing. This was a feature I had directly worked on, and so it provided an incredible moment.

I've also been assigned to the 'Digital Partnership Programme', which means I will be the developer responsible for providing technical assistance to clients during the process of migrating to the new product's API (application programming interface), and integrating our system with theirs, which is very exciting.

Do you have any advice for those considering an apprenticeship in this field?

  • Don't be afraid to mess up - it's a gift. Some of the most valuable learning opportunities have come at the end of projects when I reflect on what I've done and think, 'if I were to start again, these are the things I would do differently'. By making mistakes, you develop a strong understanding on the reasons behind best practices, and the issues they're attempting to resolve, and avoid.
  • Keep asking questions - whether you're unsure about a concept, technology, or approach, it's essential to seek clarification and ask questions. Everyone starts somewhere and there's no such thing as a stupid question. What may seem simple with hindsight is not always simple at the time. Asking questions demonstrates your eagerness to learn and improve, which is a valuable quality.
  • Believe in yourself - you can achieve great things, even in the face of challenge. Confidence is key to overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities for growth and success. So, stand tall, stay true to yourself, believe that you have what it takes to make it. In moments of doubt, try anyway - you may be surprised with where you end up.

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