Our apprentices are now approaching the half way point in their apprenticeship scheme; in this article they reflect on their experiences in software development at cap hpi so far. They are taking part in a fifteen month programme in which they will work as part of five different teams within product development. Spending three months on each team they will have the opportunity to gain exposure to the development processes of all of the products offered by cap hpi. They are now on their third rotation, and have had the opportunity to work alongside different developers on a variety of solutions and projects. Here is how they have been getting on...
“Since our last blog article back in April, I have worked with the Code Monkeys and have now recently joined the Bourbons. Over this time, I have gained much more of a feel for the day-to-day life of a software developer and it’s safe to say I’m really enjoying it.
Whilst on the Code Monkeys I developed a WPF application that shortens the time it takes to start a local development instance of an application called Bulk Valuations. Previously, it was necessary to run eight powershell scripts simultaneously to get Bulk Valuations running. One of the acceptance criteria of this new application was that there had to be the ability to start and stop each individual script (for testing purposes). With assistance from the Code Monkeys, I was able to complete this task while I was on the team, and it is now on TFS – ‘powershell-runner’. Since moving onto the Bourbons team, I have mainly worked on data capture, alongside completing set tasks from our learning coach at Estio training. Working on these two teams has given me a much greater understanding of backend technologies like C#, and has given me more of a taste of what it is like and what it takes to be a software developer.
Another task I have been working on, was to gain more of an understanding of T-SQL and to document what I had learnt. I spent time researching and learning the basics, such as joins, stored procedures and CRUD, then wrote up what I had found and presented my findings in my six-month probation review.”
- Alex Maughan
We have had an opportunity to work on all the global and UK products at cap hpi, and share experiences in both, as well as meeting all the people who work in the different teams. As a result of this exposure we have been able to pool our experiences and work together to expand our knowledge base. The rotations have also meant that we have been exposed to different technologies that some of us have not used in the past. In the teams we have been with so far everyone has been very friendly and more than happy to help us grow in the business. With every rotation we feel that we are becoming more integrated into product development.
“The main goal I was given was to develop my knowledge of Angular, and to create an application demonstrating my knowledge, also documenting its strengths and pitfalls. My team had a requirement for a brand new Angular application; by taking ownership of the task, and seeing it through from development to deployment allowed me to learn a new and abstract technology for a beginner. Having recently explored the wider context of cap hpi, I was also able to fully appreciate what my product would do, and what role it would play in the business as a whole, which was particularly interesting to put it into context.
The most satisfying aspect of the last few months has been the ability to utilise my newfound scrum skills and wider knowledge of the business to actively contribute to scrum meetings, which in turn allows my knowledge to directly impact what and how we develop throughout the sprint.
I also had the opportunity to work alongside another developer to investigate Docker, looking at whether it would be an appropriate tool to support developing our products. By being part of investigations such as these, I feel like I am really becoming part of the business, as my work may change how other developers work at cap hpi.
Overall I am delighted with the opportunities presented to me at cap hpi. I look forward to progressing in the business, with the overall aim of becoming a Junior Developer at the end of the fifteen month apprenticeship.”
- Wesley Spellman
As part of our apprenticeship scheme we have been receiving training at Estio as well as having regular meetings with our Estio skills coach here at cap hpi. We regularly receive tasks through which we get to demonstrate the skills we have gained. This builds up our portfolio that will then be counted towards our final grade at the end of the scheme. Our skills coach helps us to progress through our portfolio, checking our work is to the required standard. We have found this support greatly beneficial as it reassures us that we are on track and are gaining the most from our apprenticeship.
Whilst on Danger Mice I gained a wealth of experience with C# and API interactions with Entity Framework through pair programming with my buddy. This has benefited me greatly as I can take this experience and apply it throughout the rest of my development career; from here I can further develop my back-end development skills along with database interaction. Coming from a front-end web developer background, Danger Mice have opened a new door for me to explore.
After working with the Danger Mice, I moved onto Snack Overflow, where I began working on unit tests; the concept initially baffled me but with help from my team and looking at previous implemented tests, I found my feet and wrote my own for implemented features derived from PBIs. From this I gained a fundamental software development principle, to test your own code, as developers hold the responsibility to make sure their code works as intended, which increases efficiency and reduces bugs.
I'm really enjoying working as an apprentice developer at cap hpi, I've learned so much in such a short amount of time. I look forward to the more challenging problems that will really test my abilities as a developer and progress me to the next level.”
- Zahid Rahman
We were given a group task of gaining a better understanding of the company and how product development underpins the other departments within cap hpi. To do this we held meetings with senior members of other departments to find out what they do, and how they interact with product development. Based on the meetings we had, we collated and documented our newfound understanding of the wider cap hpi business. We learnt about the interactions that different departments have with each other and how product development underpins them. This knowledge has given us a more holistic view of cap hpi and the different departments within it.
"As I came from a frontend background, when the time came to join Bourbons I felt very nervous as I did not really want to delve into backend technologies. However, after being on Bourbons for three months, and two months on Danger Mice, I now have a very different perspective on backend development. I love the abilities of backend languages such as C#. I am happy that I got the exposure as it has opened my eyes and changed my mind about what I previously thought about these technologies. Previously I wanted to specialise in frontend development, but after spending time learning, and experiencing backend technologies I would love to be a full stack developer.
When I first started on Bourbons I had no previous experience or knowledge of C#, but by the time I left bourbons I had built an application which is used by employees here at cap hpi. I built the frontend in MVC and created the API in C#. I then also created all the SQL stored procedures which were needed for this application. This included using many different types of joins, and gaining an understanding of the table structure as I needed to join multiple tables together to get all the information needed.
Whilst on Danger Mice I have continued to learn C# and I was able to use my new knowledge of this language to help my colleagues on our new upcoming product, Residual Values. As part of this project I have also experienced very complex SQL queries, including mathematical equations and many complex commands. One task involved converting a SQL stored procedure into C#, which helped me understand both languages much better as I had to be able to understand what was happening in SQL to be able to convert it into C#.
As a team we have also been working on upgrading an existing system for the Maltese Government which has introduced me to Web Forms which I have never seen or experienced before. Over the next six months I will carry on working on both frontend and backend technologies, expanding my knowledge of them both to gain enough experience to become a full stack junior developer after this apprenticeship."
- Holly Anusic
We are all enjoying our experience here at cap hpi, now we have moved between a few teams we feel like we are all becoming more and more a part of the business. We all agree that the rotation system has given us a really good insight into the different teams and products within the business in a relatively short period of time. Looking at the package as a whole, we all feel very lucky to be a part of the cap hpi apprenticeship scheme.