Softwire Blog


Internships at Softwire


3 November 2015, by

With recruitment fair season is full flow, we thought it would be interesting to share some of the experiences of our freshly departed Summer interns to give you an idea of what may be in store. Here is what Emily and Stephen thought about their time at Softwire:

b0f31c91ef_500x500Emily: I have wanted to work in software development for a good few years now and coming to Softwire was a big step in that for me. Having done quite a fair amount of research about the company I had come to the conclusion that what with the style of work, the flexibility, the social aspects and the general attitudes of the company (of course I won’t lie, having music lessons and music rooms in the office certainly didn’t hurt!), if I was going to work anywhere in software, then Softwire seemed like the perfect place for me.

At the beginning we had two weeks of training, getting up to speed with C#, Javascript, JQuery, ASP.Net, Bootstrap and AngularJS, amongst other things. Coming from a background of studying computer science at university, I had done a fair amount of Java so C# was a fairly smooth transition, but had no experience with any of the web technologies. We learned quickly though and there was no shortage of support on hand here if you had questions, needed help with something or just wanted some advice from an expert, so it was very satisfying to be looking at so many new things in such a short time.

We then launched our project which I worked on for the remainder of my internship. There were eight of us interns in the team and we were divided into three sub-teams: front-end, back-end and dev-ops. I chose to be in the front-end team in order to put my new found web skills to use and to be able to learn them in a lot greater depth. What I like about working in a team like this is the amount that can get done when you have eight times the mental capacity and coding time of a single person; when everyone pushes their code to the repository at once your program can grow in large amounts very quickly. It’s really exciting to see it coming together with the bits you created working alongside other people’s code.

I think hands down, the things I have enjoyed most about working at Softwire was the friendly, flexible and relaxed environment in the office and the fact that everyone really enjoys what they are doing. They trust you to work smartly and effectively so there’s no chasing you up if you are not in at nine on the dot. I think the general attitude of trust towards employees to just get on with everything as they see fit is a good contributor to the success of the company. Everyone is very happy to be at work, feels relaxed enough to work to their best ability and really cares about the success of their projects without it being forced or artificial in any way.

There’s something to be said about working somewhere that simply doesn’t feel like work because you’re just getting paid for doing what you love. I definitely think I’ve been spoilt coming to Softwire, any future companies I come across are going to have a lot to live up to!

6568888e06_438x500Stephen: I did a 12 week working internship at Softwire after my third year of Mathematics and Computer Science at Oxford. Most of my programming experience had been work I’d done at university, so this was my first proper experience with commercial software development. I always knew it was what I wanted to do, and this summer has definitely confirmed that!

The project I worked on involved extending Umbraco, a content management system used for creating websites in a simple, easy to understand way. We wanted it to be able to create specialised challenges where people could upload scores for various events and be compared against other people on leader boards, in the process, winning awards and trophies for their teams. We added integrated it with other sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Flickr. I started by working on designing a database and implementing an API for it. I really enjoyed doing this from scratch and working out how everything tied together, and I also learned a lot about writing clear, easy to understand code.

Later in the project, I moved on to being the team’s AWS expert. AWS (Amazon Web Services) is Amazon’s cloud storage platform. I spent a lot of my time here understanding how cloud services work, so I could automatically deploy our sites. This was very new to me, as I had done nothing like this before, but it was really rewarding when things started to click into place, and I always had somebody to ask for advice if I needed it.

Softwire really help you improve as you work here, too. We had two weeks of training before we started the main project and over the weeks, our tech lead gave us talks on many parts of software development, including how to use source control and design patterns, which really helped us improve the quality of our code.

Outside of work, it’s been great too. There have been loads of social events while I’ve been here, some of the highlights being trampolining and the company picnic, which have all been a lot of fun.

I’ve really enjoyed my time here, everyone is very nice, and they are keen to help with any problems. It’s also been a great learning opportunity, and the things I’ve learned will definitely have an impact on any programming job I have in the future.

Training Internship Profile; Bingqian Liu


10 December 2014, by

BingThe 4-week training internship at Softwire was my first ever internship. It was a most unforgettable experience for the invaluable knowledge gained in software development through systematic training projects provided by the company.

The programme began with three coding challenges to get us familiar with C#, a programming language that is widely used in website development. Features of the tools to be used were introduced in mini-lectures by experienced software engineers and then practiced in the challenges and the subsequent web application project. We started developing the web application from the second week. Other elements of a .Net web app such as MVC, HTML, JavaScript and CSS also played important roles in the development, which required a lot of reading, practicing, trial-and-error along with help from our project managers. We were all also sent regular emails delivering more general information about software development.

All the interns divided into pairs to work on different but related tasks in the project. We swapped pairs regularly so that everyone got a chance to work with different people and share in their different backgrounds and experience. Our managers regularly reviewed our work allowing us to improve our code on as we progressed through the project. We also periodically tested the
features implemented by others in turn and gave feedback.

What impressed me most about Softwire was that all the people around us were ready to help with any problems, which made me feel less and less nervous day by day. At the end of the fourth week, the website was ready, and we launched it internally for the staff to use. After working on the project for the last month, I and the rest of the interns were also keen to use the product we had created.
It was great to finally see it in use, and it was lovely to be part of a group of such enthusiastic and innovative people from day one.

Gaining Programming Experience


28 May 2013, by

When recruiting for technical roles at Softwire, how much experience an applicant has isn’t the be all and end all for us when considering applications. If you’re interested in applying to work for us, why not find out exactly what we’re looking for?

However, it never hurts to gain some programming experience, or work to improve any experience you may already have. The best candidates (and often the people who do best after they start at Softwire) are generally the people with a passion for experimenting and trying out new things.

In terms of what you can do to gain some more experience of programming, the short answer is just practice.

It’s pretty much the case that you can choose any programming language, framework, type of project etc. and gain some real benefit from it. So we’d definitely recommend trying to find something that you think would be fun and engaging!

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Softwire in the top 20 in Best Companies to Work For Awards


10 April 2013, by

For the third year running, Softwire are in the top 20 of the Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For Awards!

The announcement that we had ranked 12th was made at a glitzy awards ceremony in the Battersea Evolution, hosted by Kate Silverton and attended by Softwire employees Robynne and Todd.

The evening started with a champagne reception, followed by a three course meal, including a fancy trio of desserts to finish off!

It was a tense evening as we waited to find out where we had ranked this year, however Robynne and Todd kept the rest of us up to date throughout the night on our Twitter feed.

It was a great night and we’re all really happy that Softwire have ranked so highly three years in a row!

Students vote Softwire into the Guardian UK 300!


24 May 2012, by

Guardian UK 100 2012Following on from our success in the Sunday Times Best Companies awards, Softwire have been included in yet another prestigious list of employers – the Guardian UK 300 2012. (The book won’t come out until September, although in the meantime you can see us in the related TARGETjobs IT publication here.)

This list of the most popular graduate employers in the UK is voted for by students and graduates. We were placed 34th in the IT category – the higher ranked of only two SMEs (companies with < 250 employees).

27,000 students and graduates are each given a list of employers, and asked to choose three companies that they would most like to work for, whether they are on the list or not.

What makes our achievement here particularly impressive is that almost all the companies in the final 300 are much, much larger than us – think Google, BBC, Microsoft – and in fact we weren’t even on the list that was handed out to students in the first place. Given this, we are very chuffed that so many of the participants were so excited about applying to work with us that they actively suggested our name – ahead of many companies with much larger recruitment budgets!

As in most years, Softwire are looking to increase in size by about 20%, which means we’re hoping to take on around 12 new starters. This year, we’re looking forward to interviewing even more high quality applicants than usual – make sure you’re one of them!

Softwire up to 6th in Best Companies to Work For awards!


28 February 2012, by

Photograph by Tim Bishop/The Sunday TimesIn 2012, Softwire entered the Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For awards for the second time. Our first entry, the previous year, had ranked us at 16th, making  us the best small software company to work for in the UK.

Our position was only to be announced on the night when three lucky employees (from right to left: me, Luci Apostolou and Camilla Watson), would have the pleasure of attending the awards ceremony.

We did, however, know our score, which was higher than the previous year’s, though this was not necessarily enough to guarantee we had beaten 16th. Just for fun, we held an auction sweepstake (in aid of WaterAid). The most sought after tickets were those for a finish around 9th place: better than last year.

Cupcakes - click to see larger imageOn the evening of the award ceremony, while the three of us departed for Battersea Evolution, the rest of the company prepared for an office party, featuring specially made cupcakes.

Those of us at the ceremony were welcomed with champagne before sitting down to a three course meal – with more champagne! – and a few speeches by the powers that be at the Sunday Times followed by the Top 100 countdown. All through this, we kept the office up to date through our Twitter feed and provided live coverage of the Top 100 countdown.

The results exceeded our expectations: Softwire pushed up to 6th, significantly better than the previous year and even better than the sweepstake bidding had predicted. And, for the second year running, the best small software company to work for in the UK!

Top 5 for 2013?

Softwire interviewed by Warwick University


3 January 2012, by

Warwick University wanted to know why we were at their careers fair, and how their students can get a job at Softwire. We were only too happy to oblige.

Here’s Harry Cummings, who studied at Warwick University:

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Softwire – The Movie


27 November 2011, by

A few weeks ago Oxford University sent us an aspiring documentary maker, Stella Ramsden, to make a film about life at a software development company.

We’re very proud to have been chosen as the first company in this scheme, and we really enjoyed having Stella around. And we think she’s done a great job!

You can find out more information about the scheme here.

Softwire Interview Self-Signup Interface


16 November 2011, by

Anyone applying to Softwire this year will be able to make use of our latest product: the Softwire Interview Self-Signup Interface – known in Softwire as ‘SISSI’!  While most companies take weeks or even months to respond to applications for employment, we do so within a few days – and then give candidates pretty much free rein to choose their own interview slot.

So if you are invited to a phone interview with Softwire you’ll be sent a link which will take you to a simple interface where you can choose a date and time for your interview.

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Interview question: Potato Spies


29 June 2011, by

In our initial phone interviews, we like to ask candidates a question based on a real-world scenario, that requires algorithmic or mathematical thinking in order to solve.

Below is just such a test that we wrote but never got round to using. My colleague Kenny and I also presented it to a room full of Oxford Mathematicians in February 2011. Kenny used to work as a teacher, so he grabbed the chalk with relish, while I amused myself throwing new potatoes at the audience whenever they got a question right. That was one careers event they didn’t forget in a hurry!

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