Sarah Binney

Developer

Life at Softwire is unbelievably busy. Some companies keep you busy by working you to the bone, but here things are a bit different: I have lots to do because I love my job, and because there are so many different things to get involved with!

I’m a software developer working on the support team, which is a great opportunity to get a taste of lots of different technologies: we’re responsible for maintaining and enhancing existing projects, so I encounter plenty of other people’s code as well as getting to write my own. So far I’ve worked mainly with Android, which was totally new to me when I arrived four months ago, but my colleagues got me up to speed pretty quickly. I’ve also worked with Javascript and done a bit of web design with CSS.

I had a couple of very dull placements when I was a student which made me think software development would just be a room full of people silently tapping away at their keyboards. Instead, the offices here are buzzing with people chatting, collaborating, and helping each other out.

The community at Softwire is wonderfully welcoming. Arriving straight out of uni I was worried I would have difficulty making friends in a big office full of people, but everyone is incredibly friendly; it’s a very un-cliquey environment and everybody mucks in, whatever the activity. Everybody is on first-name terms, and senior management sits at lunch chatting and doing the crosswords along with everyone else. The executive structure is highly transparent and so is our feedback process; from the founding members, to newbies like me, everybody has a say in how the company is run, and how we can improve it.

And the creative energy here is exhilarating. Writing software is a highly creative process and I feel proud of every line of code I’ve written. But as well as that, our “extracurricular” projects can be phenomenally ambitious in scope. We have just packed up our homemade Softwire escape room: we did some serious outfitting of a lesser-used meeting room and filled it with puzzles. I wrote the plot in the form of mysterious newspaper clippings and letters to be found around the room, and we even launched an in-universe website and sent secret invitation letters to the whole company! Who ever said office life was dull?

When I’m not writing things (be it code or puzzles) I’ve been helping with some of Softwire’s many social projects. We take our role in the community seriously and I sincerely think we give a lot back: from school tours around the office, to work experience placements for sixth-formers, to employability workshops. Everybody gets a certain number of days per year to use for “charity holiday”, like volunteering at a soup kitchen, and it’s use it or lose it – so a fabulous excuse to try something different. We also do pro-bono projects like offering free software development to charities and social enterprises.

What’s the next project? There’s so much on the horizon to choose from. I could book out the music room for a jamming session, or go teach at a local school’s Code Club. I could try learning a new technology (I’ve been meaning to give our HTC Vive a go) or start working on the Softwire charity quiz.

If any of these things are exciting to you as they are to me, join us! We’ve got cookies (freshly baked onsite). Looking forward to meeting you 🙂

Sarah Binney