51 Months Later … Back in the Life?

Hello, my name is Juan and I am a software engineer at Zircon Software. The title of this post is related to my previous blog post for Zircon (Ten Months in the Life …, available on the company website). As one might expect, a lot has changed in that time, not least my academic progression from undergraduate to graduate and making my way back to Zircon. The focus of this post will be to compare my perspective from back then with the one I hold now.

As a placement student at Zircon, you spend a lot of time learning. Concretely in my case I learned the languages Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and SQL; got to grips with object oriented programming and threading; and acquired skills in web development and database management. As a graduate, the training-working balance is shifted somewhat towards the latter, but I am pleased to report that I am still learning, having now also added Java & C# to my repertoire as well as developing experience with messaging patterns and Xamarin Forms. Furthermore, Zircon takes a proactive approach in ensuring you are continually improving your skillset, building in time for training and suggesting development routes.

The cohesive and supportive work environment at Zircon continues. Some faces have changed, due to the period of time I was away to finish up my degree and the brilliant effort the company puts into offering opportunities such as work experience placements for schools in the local community. However many are still here and the office culture that has proved so conducive to Zircon’s success prevails, curated and maintained by all those privileged to form a part of it.

In my previous post I touched on Zircon’s tangible ambition and hunger for success, well it seems like once you have a taste for it nothing else will do. Zircon has roughly doubled in terms of staff numbers and turnover since then, and continues to aim higher. Regular in-house communication and coordination ensures that we are all behind striving for, and ultimately achieving, this common goal.

Being back in a graduate capacity has offered up fresh new challenges which I didn’t experience as a placement student. My role now includes working much more closely with clients, auditors and project managers to deliver high quality software. Zircon understands that this is a learning process and I have had excellent guidance in navigating these new challenges and have not just acquired new professional skills useful in any context, but as a result have also become a more complete software engineer.

As a placement student I discussed the excitement and motivation that comes with the opportunity to work on a product to be deployed and used regularly in the real world, by real users, for a real application. Upon graduating I wanted to return, as I predicted this would still be applicable as a graduate, as Zircon is always keen on acquiring new customers and breaking into new markets. This has proven to be true since coming back and additionally I have also had a chance to do something I didn’t predict, revisit a past project. The product I worked on as a placement student is live and stable, with continuing enhancements as new requirements come in. The opportunity to be involved with this new work was very gratifying, like catching up with an old friend. As I come to the end of this post, I feel like this is perhaps the best and closest metaphor to how I feel about my experience here as a graduate versus a placement student, a feature enhancement.

Thank you for reading this updated snapshot of life at Zircon Software, I hope to provide another in the future, however many months later that may be.