Ten Months in the Life …

This month we have a submission from one of our university placement students, Juan, who is coming to the end of his spell with us.  He wanted to take the opportunity to highlight his experiences from his time with Zircon and what it has meant to his fledgling career in software engineering.  So, over to Juan …..

Hello, my name is Juan and I am a Mathematics Undergraduate from the University of Bath ten months into my placement at Zircon Software.  When I think about how my placement thus far has enriched me, the things that come to mind are learning about computing, programming and technology; real world projects; Zircon’s goals; and experience of the software industry.

Before starting my placement my programming knowledge was limited to two languages (R and MATLAB).  Between then and now I have used Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and SQL as well as having my first experience of web development, database management and computing concepts such as object oriented programming and threading.

Learning all of this and putting it into practice was only possible thanks to the cohesive and supportive work environment at Zircon, one that fosters learning and self-development by providing a platform for new challenges and having teams that are not only effective at providing software solutions but are also willing and able to communicate their understanding and experience.  Furthermore, I found it exciting and motivating to be given the opportunity to apply these newly developed skills in contributing to deliver a product that is to be deployed and used regularly in the real world, by real users, for a real application.

When I was looking for a company to undertake my year in industry with, Zircon Software sent me some information about the company which started like this:

“Zircon Software is an ambitious software house based in Trowbridge (Wiltshire) specialising in developing high quality control and information applications largely for the road and rail sectors of the transport industry, and more recently in the areas of avionics and defence.”

One of the words in that paragraph which really stood out to me was “ambitious”.  This seemed an interesting prospect for me as a placement student because I suspected it indicated a company that was growing and would therefore be engaging in new and interesting ideas with a real spirit of innovation and business adventure.

I am happy to report that I still find that to be true.  Zircon continues to grow and continues to set itself targets for even further development, working towards them with this same spirit that struck me when I first heard about them. After ten months on placement I have witnessed how Zircon nurtures their ambition and acts upon it by teaming it with organisation and strategy which facilitates identification with the company’s vision and a desire to work towards it.

Another aspect of my placement that I have enjoyed has been learning about Zircon’s software development lifecycle.  Having a theoretical understanding of it is important but by implementing it on a real project one can see first-hand the stages that a project goes through from its inception to its conclusion, which is a very effective way of understanding how Zircon operates and is a model that can be used as a valuable insight into the software industry.

Having a clearly documented process for each project is one of the keys to organisation and allows planning for success especially when this is teamed up with an effective version control system. These allow for a good understanding of a project’s structure and progress to be acquired which can be crucial not just for the current team members that are attached to it but to any future members who may join it as well.

This post is a snapshot of what have been to me the most significant and immediate benefits of my placement experience with Zircon; the technical knowledge I have gained, the privilege of working on a product that will have real world consequences, the principles Zircon focuses on to fuel its growth and the understanding of the lifecycle that its software solutions adopt. With this snapshot I encourage anybody looking for a placement in the software industry to strongly consider doing it with Zircon.