Internship profile: Ian Baker
5 November 2012, by Ian Baker
I applied for an internship at Softwire because I wanted to get some experience in the real world of software development, and learn about all the practicalities that were outside the scope of my Computer Science degree at Cambridge. I had a fair amount of programming experience before I arrived, mostly from my course, but it all focussed on creating trivially small programs to illustrate an academic point; what I hoped to gain from Softwire was an understanding of the processes involved in creating usefully large programs that interacted with real-world data.
I started off on a team with four other interns, working on an internal app written in Java and using JSP and Hibernate technologies. Everything apart from the core Java was a steep learning curve, but I was offered great support from more experienced developers and quickly found myself gaining in confidence. After three weeks I was moved onto a project for the BBC, working with professional developers on a commercially important project; scary stuff! In fact, there was an excellent atmosphere on the team, and they were all happy to help me with every little question I had. There was another learning curve as I got my head around the Spring framework, and the MVC model of web apps, but there was always help available.
While I’ve been working at Softwire there’s been a huge amount of ‘morale’ events, paid for by the company and organised in aid of improving general employee happiness. These have included several trips to the local pubs, surprise ice cream one afternoon, a LAN gaming evening and the company picnic where everyone takes an afternoon off and chills out on Hampstead Heath. This attitude towards employees makes Softwire a really great place to work, and everyone is made to feel like they’re making valuable contributions to their project, and to the company success as a whole.
I gained exactly what I’d hoped to from this summer, and so much more. I’ve been exposed to a commercial software project from start to (almost) finish and seen a selection of the huge menagerie of technologies available to software developers today; but I’ve also been shown how a great company can look after their employees, and do everything possible to make them happier and more productive. Softwire has been a great place to work, and I’ll definitely hope to apply for a full-time position after I graduate.