First experiences as a Junior Developer

Wednesday 7th October 2015

I first came to Biff Bang Pow as a recent graduate undertaking some work experience. I had studied games programming at university and was looking to gain some insight and experience in a field similar to my own, as well as spend some time working in a business environment before beginning my career.

After a few initially confusing days adjusting to the early starts and strange concepts such as stand-up meetings and sprints I began to settle in. It became quickly apparent that the business concepts I learnt about at uni were actually very effective when implemented properly, and it was really interesting to see them working in a real life environment as opposed to just reading about them in a textbook.

Having come from a background in games my web development skills were a little lacking, I started with the basics and was guided through their work experience program by another developer, learning HTML, CSS, SQL and some JavaScript I quickly began to put together a small portfolio site to test what I had learnt.

After two weeks of work experience I was lucky enough to be offered a position at BBP as a Junior Developer and became a full time member of the team. I began to move on to more complex programming using PHP and MySQl to build simple CRUD (create, read, update, delete) interfaces, using the Laravel framework and adhering to the PSR coding standards. Getting more comfortable with the business principles I joined Sprint planning meetings as well as meetings with clients. The final day of my first week at work was spent attending the Symfony Live conference in London. Even though I wasn’t experienced using the Symfony framework this was a great experience to meet and speak to other developers, hear how different companies work, what software they use and the projects they are working on

The main reasons I wanted to join BBP and why I am currently enjoying my work is the challenge and satisfaction of developing bespoke software. Instead of developing cookie-cutter websites each project is a unique challenge approached in a different way and possibly utilising tools not used before in any of our other projects, this leads to a constant learning curve and discovery of improved ways to accomplish tasks. The working environment is a close knit and supportive group with a wealth of experience, this is particularly useful given I’m new to the industry as there is a constant stream of guidance and mentoring to push me in the right direction.

As well as the challenge of creating custom software previously mentioned I have enjoyed learning how large scale sites are put together and how frameworks can be used to streamline this. The security aspect of web development really interests me and one of my favourite tasks have been researching and implementing security features into applications, learning about the ingenious tactics people employ to inflict damage to a site and the equally clever steps taken to prevent them.

I have learnt a lot about the industry as a whole and was surprised at the closeness of the developer/client connection, there is far more meetings and feedback between the two than I thought. It has also become apparent how important structure is in the workplace, whether this applies to using JIRA and TimeCamp to record time spent on projects or using PSR coding standards to ensure other developers can easily understand and work on your code.

During my time at BBP learnt that I am far too eager to to begin projects without proper planning and would benefit from stepping back and structuring my work more before beginning, and that sometimes it’s more efficient to ask to pair program or simply admit you're out of your depth. This is something I hope to work on developing in the future.

James Heathcote

Biff Bang Pow

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67D Innovation Drive, Milton Park
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
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