I applied to Softwire for an internship in my second year of maths at Cambridge, having found details on the university careers website. I actually really enjoyed the interview process – the problems were interesting, but approachable without much prior programming experience, and the interviewers were friendly and encouraging. I applied reasonably late in the year and all the slots had recently been filled, so I was made an offer for the following summer. It was, however, well worth the wait!
Everyone I had the pleasure to meet during my internship – which, over my 10 weeks, was the majority of the London office – was kind, friendly, and helpful. Softwire is the kind of company that makes you feel welcome the moment you walk in the door. Not only that, everyone took pride in and had passion for their work which really shone through. Added to that, the almost completely flat management structure made everyone – even us interns – feel equally valued and respected.
The work itself I found really interesting – I was on a project with other interns creating a desktop application in C# from scratch. Despite the fact that the majority of the team had never programmed in C# before (or, for that matter, any similar languages such as C++/Java), we were soon not only writing code at a blazing rate, but then focusing on making it clean, readable and testable – all under the guidance of our fantastic technical lead, Jamie and mentor Ying.
Whilst “clean, readable and testable” might not sound that exciting, it actually made it fun: whilst writing code that works might be easy, writing code that makes logical sense and is easy to understand is just as important, and learning new ways to think about coding was really enjoyable.
If we were ever stuck, Jamie was just literally just behind us, ready to help with anything, and Ying also did a brilliant job of helping us out. In fact, we all learnt so much that in my final week I even had the opportunity to talk through some of the new stuff we’d learnt, and share the knowledge, with other members of staff at Softwire at a “Lunch and Learn” session. Go to a lunch and learn session, and you not only discover interesting things, you also get free lunch on the company. It’s one of many initiatives that embody the passion for sharing, learning and self-development shared by everyone at Softwire.
On the subject of lunch, the food was amazing and very reasonably priced, and cooked by Helen and the team of in-house chefs. There is also a large ‘morale budget’, meaning the cupboards are full of all sorts of snacks free for the taking. There were regular events, several times per week, with food and/or drinks paid for by the company, some of which were among the highlights of my summer. These ranged from various pub trips – through to rampaging dinosaurs across a city at Pizza and Board Games night – and an afternoon out of the office for the annual picnic on Hampstead Heath, spontaneously and surprisingly attended on this occasion by the one and only Ed Miliband!
All in all, my internship was a fantastic experience, and I would thoroughly recommend it.