Warren’s graduate developer journey

6th January, 2020

In this post, Warren tells us why he chose Cambridge Intelligence’s graduate program, how it works, and what interesting opportunities he’s had since joining the dev team.

My graduate journey towards becoming a developer

My previous career was very different. I worked for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in South Africa providing renewable energy solutions for informal settlements. I started using Python to do some data analysis on solar PV energy usage, and that’s where my interest in coding began.

After developing an online CRM that automated maintenance workflows and replaced paper-based manual tasks, I realised that I wanted to keep on coding. However, with a full-time job, I was limited to spending evenings and weekends learning as much about programming as I could.

The graduate programme seemed to match my ambitions perfectly.

I began to think about how I could transition into becoming a full-time developer. When my wife got a job in England as a teacher, this served as the catalyst for the change.

I found the Cambridge Intelligence website, and was impressed by the wide-ranging use cases of its technology. I didn’t want to end up doing something that was repetitive, so a versatile product was exciting and this was clearly the best product of its kind.

The graduate programme seemed to match my ambitions perfectly. It wasn’t just for graduates straight out of university: it welcomed those like me who were keen on a career switch.

First impressions

During the interview stage, I was impressed by the vision and company values. This sounded like somewhere I’d fit in well, so I was really happy to get accepted onto the program.

There were two of us on the first ever graduate program. We felt a lot of positive energy around doing it properly, particularly on striking the right balance between learning and working. As the program progressed, the two became more closely intertwined until it organically turned into ‘learning by doing’.

There was a lot of trust in me from very early on – I was fixing bugs and contributing to releases within the first couple of weeks.

There were still plenty of opportunities to learn new stuff, but I was also helping to develop the products. That was important to me: the focus of the program is on developing the skills to move you forward as a software developer.

There was a lot of trust in me from very early on – I was fixing bugs and contributing to releases within the first couple of weeks, and within three months I was reviewing code written by experienced developers. There’s a refreshing lack of egos in the dev team; everyone goes out of their way to support others wherever they can, so it’s an ideal environment for a graduate.

Interesting & challenging projects

Initially I worked on modernizing the demos on our KeyLines SDK site by re-writing most of them using the latest JavaScript standards. It was a great way to learn more about the language and how it’s evolved over time, and also to become more familiar with KeyLines and its use cases.

After that, I started on a project to add a new feature to one of our chart layouts – the sequential layout; to automatically assign levels to data that has a hierarchical structure.

Working on a new feature for the sequential layout made Warren start thinking like a developer
Working on a new feature for the sequential layout made Warren start thinking like a developer

This was my first time working with the core code and using TypeScript. Designing the trade-offs involved in implementing the feature, anticipating the expected behaviors and understanding the principles guiding them really made me start thinking like a developer.

Travel opportunities

My experience hasn’t just been office-based.

Back in November, I travelled to Tel Aviv for CDVC, a regular event where Cambridge Intelligence brings together organizations that use our products to help shape the future of connected data visualization. I helped communicate what our product roadmap looks like to our clients, and learnt first-hand about how our clients use the products. I also joined a meeting with a potential customer, and it was fascinating to understand their needs and use cases, and how that gets communicated back to the dev team.

For my own personal development plan (PDP), I went to the DotJS conference in Paris. With over 3000 JavaScript developers there, I was overwhelmed by the variety of industries and backgrounds. The highlights for me were presentations by Igor Minar, lead developer at the Angular project, Evan You, creator of Vue.js, and Vladimir Agafonkin, creator of leaflet.js.

Warren found time for sightseeing while in Paris for DotJS
Warren found time for sightseeing while in Paris for DotJS

Why Cambridge Intelligence was right for me

The company aims to be the best in what it does. There’s this relentless energy about making sure the products we create are of the highest quality, while maintaining the integrity of the company values. In addition, there’s an abundance of social events to take part in, an emphasis on professional development, and the company even has its own branded beer!

I’ve really enjoyed my first 12 months at Cambridge Intelligence, and was happy to graduate successfully and stay in the team as a fully-fledged developer.

Warren graduated successfully from the 12-month program with a trophy to prove it
Warren graduated successfully from the 12-month program with a trophy to prove it

Interested in joining our next graduate program?

We’re currently accepting applications for our 2020 graduate program. If you have a STEM degree or the right skills for a career change, find out more or apply online.

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