12 months in

📅 September 6th 2019 // 🏷 BT Graduate Scheme Career Development

It has officially been a year since I started working full-time on the BT graduate scheme. I can’t believe it’s been one whole year since my long two-week induction that started in Ipswich and London.

At the end of this week, I completed my second rotation (out of four) on the graduate scheme. You can read about my first six months in the business on my first rotation here. My second rotation was in one of the development teams in Digital Engineering. It’s been such a wonderful experience so far for both my personal and professional growth, I’m thankful to everyone that has supported me from day one!

Actually doing some work!
Actually doing some work!

🙌🏻 The team

I was part of one of the six squads in the tribe.

I spent my first week getting to know my team that was made up of Scrum Master, Testers, Developers, Solution Designer and Product Owner from different places in the world including Belarus, India, London. There was one developer in Leeds with me (shoutout to Daniel!) who really helped me settle in from my first day, he gave me a great on-boarding experience covering things such as ways of working, development principles, workflow etc. Almost immediately, I felt at home.

✨ Key learnings

Unlike my first rotation, my second one was focused more on the technical side of things rather than the business. I’ve always identified myself as more of a builder, so back in March (when I started) I was very keen to get started. I think it also helps that I’ve had some development experience in the past, so I was ready to start contributing and adding value straight away! 

At my desk - Photo by DCimaging/ Darren Casey
At my desk – Photo by DCimaging/ Darren Casey

But just because I’ve done some development before, doesn’t mean I know it all! I actually left the team with much more knowledge (both technical and non-technical) than I ever thought I would. Here are just a few of those things:

💼 Non-technical learnings:

  • Agile way of working: for our squad, we practiced Scrum. I learned about what agile is, benefits of it (compared to traditional waterfall development) and attended and got actively involved in my squad scrum ceremonies. I helped estimate stories, assigned Story Points for several different sprints!
  • What makes up our digital product: the team worked on the self-serve part of the EE website, I learned about all the components that make up the site and interactions with APIs and other back-end systems.
  • How to work with a remote development team: I thought this would be quite difficult initially, but I feel like my team was super efficient and communicated well with every single sprint. There was never a time where I thought we were out of sync. I learned how to communicate well via the communication tools that we have (our ceremonies helped a lot with this!
  • How requirement-gathering works, the importance of it when starting development: “what the business wants” is more important than I thought. Having clear requirements is more important than I thought. It’s not just heads-down coding all-day, it’s about talking to the right stakeholders, clarifying requirements and making sure that these are met throughout the development process.

👩🏻‍💻 Technical learnings:

  • Navigating around a huge codebase – for all our 10 million customers that use the MyEE Web Application.
  • Improved my technical knowledge, particularly in the front-end development space but also, technical things like how the web application responds to the back-end too. This was all done by working through tickets, picking up technical debt and knowledge transfers.
  • I learned a bit of Java and even built a small application, you can find the code on my GitHub here.
  • I also learned that code reviews are there to help, and nothing else! I learned so much from PR comments – they helped me think differently about writing my code.

What I picked up both non-technically and technically, I applied to other personal projects such as the major re-build of this blog. This includes taking best practises on the tech side and agile way of working.

💡 Investigation projects:

I also had a few investigation projects that I did as part of my objectives, which gave me the opportunity to assess our current workflows, how we do things and our tech. This allowed me to think a bit outside of the box as well as expand my knowledge on what is the best practises in industry.

At the end of this project, I created a proof of concept and presented it back to my line manager. It is now there for future reference and who knows – some of my suggestions might be implemented in the future which is very exciting!

Working at my desk - Photo by DCimaging/ Darren Casey
Working at my desk – Photo by DCimaging/ Darren Casey

🌿 The Graduate Scheme as a whole

As part of the graduate scheme, I had the opportunity to go on various training programmes that helped expand my knowledge on other areas and overall improve business acumen and awareness. These are some of the training schemes that I got involved in, in the last 6 months:

  • Leadership Launchpad (I can’t share the details of this week away, but I have to say that it was the highlight of the scheme so far and where I had the opportunity to really understand myself!) 
  • Thinking Commercially
  • Stakeholder Management 

Other notable contributions

My journey into technology was featured on the Yorkshire Post last week which I’m still so buzzed about. I share my story from coding alone to now working with the incredible teams at BT/EE. You can check out the full post here.

🧚🏼‍♀️ A supportive team and environment has such an impact

6 months later, I’m proud to say that I am a much more confident person in comparison to a year ago. I feel confident in my technical skills and general business and industry knowledge.

All the achievements that I’ve made in the last 6 months are all because of the incredible support from the Tribe. I was supported, mentored, welcomed from my very first day back in March from everyone in the team. I felt like I was just part of the team – not a grad, intern or placement student, I was just a dev helping out with the day-to-day.

I was also regularly challenged and stretched by my line manager and the Tribe lead which led to my overall personal and professional development. It is a safe space that allowed me to be myself, ask questions, speak up and thrive. 🌱


🏃🏻‍♀️ Moving forward

 I learned from my rotations so far that I’m always quite keen to be a part of the building / “tech” side of things rather than business, so next week, I will be starting my third rotation in the Platform Engineering team.

I’m looking forward to having a fresh new start but with more confidence than when I was moving from my first rotation to my second. At the same time, I’m so sad to leave my current team, but am excited with what I will be learning and doing next.

Platform Engineering/true “DevOps” is a completely new world to me, it sounds challenging and a little intimidating from the lens of a newbie, but I’m always willing to give it a shot. 🤘🏻

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