17 November, 2016

More from Software Engineer, Colin

Colin received two undergraduate degrees from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours specialising in Finance and a Bachelor of Computer Science. He’s currently working as a Graduate Assistant Software Engineer and will soon be taking on the role of Associate Software Engineer.

“I’ve always enjoyed M&S products.  There have been M&S stores in every country I have lived in – five at the last count. So, when I learned about graduate schemes as a concept (they aren’t really a thing in Canada), I started looking at British companies that I know and M&S was one of the first to come to mind. When I found out I’d got the role, I was extremely excited. Though it was a little surreal for me as I was still living in Canada.  

“After spending a few days in store, I had my first day in my actual role.  I was a little bit nervous going in to work but that quickly disappeared when I met my team.  I was lucky enough to join a team with several very experience software engineers who loved answering questions.  There was also a former grad on the team who acted as my “buddy” helping me get set up and understand the project.

“My first day in the office I got to deploy code that I had written to production.  This means that something I changed on my first day was put on to the website that M&S customers interact with and I was the one putting it there.  I was given tasks to do that I had no idea how to approach but the support was there to help me through it when I got stuck.

“Another real baptism by fire was when I first went on out-of-hours support.  One of the teams I worked with provides its own 24-hour support in case something goes wrong.  About seven months into working at M&S, I went into my first week of support.  My training consisted of learning how to read and analyse logs and seven months of working on the codebase.  In that first week I got to respond to someone trying to attack the website (DDOS most likely) and one of the servers that hosts part of the website going down.  It was certainly a memorable week.

“As an engineer, my main responsibility is to devise solutions to problems the business faces and build software systems to implement them.  I spent 11 months working with the mobile web team building and improving the mobile website, focusing on accessibility and speed.  Now I’m working on platform engineering, designing and building a system that other developers will be able to use to deploy and maintain their apps.

“I’ve worked with lots of different languages at M&S (Ruby, JavaScript, Bash, HTML, CSS, and Go to name a few). The focus is definitely on understanding the problem and finding the best solution.  The code is just a tool for implementing the solution.

“Honestly I still feel out of my depth most of the time. However, I’ve realised that pretty much everyone in the industry feels like that. I’ve learned to not worry about failing or not knowing something. The best way to learn is by jumping into the deep end and trying to figure out how it works. I’ve learned a lot: new languages; technologies; and different ways of working.

“I really enjoy working at M&S and will continue to work here until I stop learning something new every day.  I have never been good at five-year plans.  Five years ago I didn’t know that I would be in the UK now but if you had told me I wouldn’t have been surprised.  I think I will always go where I can learn the most and currently that place is M&S.”

If you're keen to explore our graduate digital roles, find out more and apply here.

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