Case study

PHP developer — Robert

As web technologies evolve and improve, Robert finds he is constantly developing new skills

How did you get your job?

After completing my degree in computer science with management studies, I worked in retail while looking for a job in the web industry. I didn't use any recruiters but searched on job sites like Gum Tree instead.

Luckily, one came up as a junior Flash developer after only a few weeks. It was quite a low annual salary, but having been turned away from so many others due to a lack of experience I knew I needed a foot in the door. I continued working in retail for three months until I was given a pay rise in my new job.

I worked in this job for five years, gaining more experience and responsibility until I decided to move to London. I found my current job via a recommendation from a friend who worked there; he put me forward as he knew I would be right for the role based on the experience I had already gained.

Don't be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Not hugely. It was relevant for my first job as I learnt Flash at university, but once in I started learning PHP in my current job I quickly moved onto this full time.

What are your main work activities?

My typical day is split between two hours of maintenance jobs (bugs and issues which come in on our ticketing system) and six hours of project work. Project work varies from new website builds, to building portals, intranets, application or tools.

I also attend project and client meetings and help quote on build times.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I have gone from a junior Flash developer, to a junior web developer to a PHP developer as my skills have grown. Eventually I would like to take on more responsibility and manage a team of developers.

The next step for my career would be to become head of PHP and then technical director. To get there I need to take on more ownership of projects and help manage and train some of the junior developers.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The variety is enjoyable as each project is different and presents new challenges. I think the main thing for me is how much you can learn in this job, and with web technologies changing and improving so regularly, it's a constant learning curve.

IT is a sector which, (at this moment in time), is growing very fast so there are always new opportunities and challenges if you want them.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I find that dealing with odd client requests, and cross-browser and platform issues are always frustrating.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Don't be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up; the amount of knowledge and skills you will learn on the job in this sector is unbelievable.

Doing freelance work and learning outside of your normal working hours is also a huge help in developing your skills quickly.