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Team insights: An interview with degree student placement Sebastian Szaniszlo

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by Simon Swords

Atlas’ first degree student (but definitely not last) is studying a BSc Computer Science with the University of Essex. Atlas was founded out of the University of Essex, and has always had close ties with them. So when the opportunity arose to take Sebastian on as a placement it was one we grasped with both hands. Seb has been working with Atlas on a year long placement since August 2016. Here, he gives us an insight into his role.

Why did you choose software development as a career path?

I chose bespoke software development as a career path because I found it to be the best opportunity for me to put into practice the theoretical skills that I acquired during my years in University and high school. By doing software development I would greatly increase my problem solving capabilities while also developing my technical skills while working on complex and challenging problems on a day to day basis. Having the chance to work with lots of different technologies it will make it easier for me to get the hang of the main concepts of software development and how to apply them from an engineering point of view.

How does working in a commercial software development environment compare with your expectations?

After I started working at Atlas, I was surprised by the complexity of software development in a commercial field. Having been coding mostly for fun, I didn’t really get to fully experience what lies on the other side of hundreds of lines of code, and I quickly learned the importance of project planning, estimating and of course testing and quality assurance. I also realised how important clients’ requirements are and got to experience the benefits of agile software development.

What project have you been working on while you’ve been with Atlas and what is it for?

When I started my placement year at Atlas, I started by familiarising myself with the technologies that the team is using for developing web applications and I was quickly assigned to work on a company project called CashSeer, which is a cashflow management and forecasting web application for small businesses.

Cashseer Screenshot

Cashseer Screenshot

What tools or technologies have you used to help you create CashSeer?

While working on CashSeer, I used a wide variety of tools. For the backend I used ASP.NET as a core framework and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 for database management. For the front end I made use of Knockout, RequireJS, Crossroads and jQuery as javascript frameworks and HTML5 and CSS3 along with Bootstrap 3 for UX design.

Technology used

What were the biggest challenges on the CashSeer project? In hindsight is there anything you would have done differently?

I would say that the biggest challenges that I encountered while working on CashSeer were mainly based around the steep learning curve. I had to get up to speed with the technologies and best practices that the development team is using fairly quickly and apply them on the project. I had to learn new languages such as C# and JavaScript and then I had to learn how to use frameworks such as ASP.NET and KnockoutJS. I also had to get accustomed to the development workflow in a commercial software development environment and agile development. In hindsight, what I would’ve done differently was probably to seek even more advice and help from the senior developers on how to best solve some problems, because at the end of the day I was sitting in a room with very clever people and industry professionals.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Atlas?

What I enjoyed the most here at Atlas was that I was included in the “flow” from the very beginning. I was very quickly assigned to work on a new company project and after a few weeks of training and trial and error development I felt like I was doing some meaningful work. The whole team was very helpful and engaging which somehow took away the workplace feeling and made it feel like I was part of a family. Everybody is doing their work extremely well, but besides this we still have a laugh at times, which makes it a very pleasant working environment.

Has working in Atlas changed your views on anything related to software development?

Yes! My views on software development have had a huge change during my time here. As a student, I never really got to experience the other side of software development other than coding. Whilst working here, I saw and got the chance to experience what’s happening behind the scenes. I learned just how important client requirements and project planning are, I learned about estimates and cost / benefit analysis, and last but not least, due to our excellent testing and QA team, I got to understand the role of software testing and its high importance in the software development lifecycle.

Simon Swords

Simon Swords

Director

Managing Director

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