For me, real-world work and academic studies go hand in hand. There are things you’ll only learn at university and things you don’t pick up until you work with a team of experienced professionals. But before I talk about the relationship between my work and education, it’s probably best to explain how I arrived at Capdesk.
I came across Capdesk at a virtual job fair, while looking for work that would fit alongside my university studies. Having spent the previous year at a large company that employed more than a thousand people, I wanted to experience what it was like working at a startup.
A lot of the companies at the virtual fair weren’t responsive to messages. Capdesk, on the other hand, was proactive. What really caught my attention was the way Capdesk Developer Alex Olsen reached out to me and made it a two-way conversation.
I felt like it wasn’t just me fishing for a place to work or a bit of experience – Capdesk showed an interest in what I was doing and what I could contribute, too. This was backed up by the fact that Capdesk wasn’t just looking for graduates, it was happy to take on students as well. I got the sense that Alex understood that work experience was a valuable part of my studies and recognised that I had something to offer the company.
One of the best things about working at Capdesk is that the team takes my personal tastes and skills into consideration. Vincent – one of our senior engineers, team leads and off-duty badass DJs (we have a few of them at Capdesk!) – tries to give me tasks that interest me and that I like to work on.
For example, I’m fascinated by DevOps, which focuses on improving the underlying processes we use every day as developers. I also work with a colleague, Louise, who is much more interested in bug-fixing. So Vincent allocates Louise a greater share of the bug-fixing tasks, while I work on the DevOps side of things. It means more practical experience in a specialist area that I find rewarding.
I’m also allowed a healthy amount of freedom and independence. One of my most recent projects has been automating notifications for release updates on our Slack channel. There’s always support when I need it but I’m given the chance to get on with the project in my own way.
I really enjoy the way Capdesk gives me a bit of real-life normality. A lot of the time, what you’re doing at school has nothing to do with the way things happen in the real world. That can count against you.
When we’re collaborating in groups at university, there are lots of people who don’t understand how you’re supposed to work on a project together. A good example is how developers contribute code to a shared project. It wasn’t on the syllabus at my school but it’s a very, very basic thing that everyone should know and that’s often missing from university courses. It’s just one of those skills you pick up on the job.
Working at Capdesk has benefitted my studies in other ways, too. I have more practical experience with the tools and processes we use regularly, so I’m more efficient. I also understand how to set up a team so we achieve more in the time we’re given. At university, you’re not under the same pressures as in the (virtual) office, so there isn’t always an emphasis on working smart or thinking about the bigger picture and how all the parts of a business fit together. At a startup, it’s essential.
Working alongside my studies isn’t always easy. The main challenges are scheduling and managing my time during busy periods, like exam week. However, my experience with Capdesk has been really positive. People understand I’m a student first and foremost and that there are going to be times when I can’t contribute as much to the team or I’m not as quick and efficient. They reassure me that’s okay.
Capdesk has given me the opportunity to learn parts of my job I’m not exposed to at university. It has made me both a better developer and a better student, and I’ve been able to work on those parts of developing which interest me most. Maybe most importantly, it’s provided me with the tools, processes and structures to apply what I study at university to real-world situations.