How to get your first job in agile tech as a graduate developer
We are always on the lookout for talented graduate developers to join our fast-growing consultancy team.
We work with market-leading financial services clients using cutting-edge technology and we need amazing graduates in order to do this.
We understand that finding your first IT job can be daunting. We also know that the best advice can come from other graduates and developers who have been exactly where you are – looking for their first break in agile tech.
So we chatted with two of our brilliant grads, Adam and Louis, to share their experience with you. If you’re thinking of joining a family like Eliga Services, read on to see if a career in agile tech is right for you.
What is your role within Eliga Services?
Adam: I am a Web Application Developer, my primary focus is on djangoCMS development.
Louis: I am also an Application Developer, which means I build web applications working with both front and back end technologies. I work mostly with TypeScript developing React front ends and Node.js backends. I also develop using Python for projects based on djangoCMS. Currently, I am helping to develop new tools and lay the groundwork for exciting new projects we are developing at Eliga.
Why did you choose a career in agile financial technology?
Adam: The financial services industry as a whole is going through an exciting transitional period that I wanted to be part of. With the increase in competitor banks and new ground-breaking technologies, the industry has become one of the most innovative and forward-thinking around. The opportunity for growth and to be part of something historically important was too good to miss.
Louis: I’ve always had an interest in development as a career. While at university, I found web development the most engaging and had opportunities to work on a diverse range of projects alongside my studies. Once I graduated, I was looking for a new challenge and fell into financial technology by accident. FinTech is an exciting field that is constantly pushing the boundaries of new technology and it’s rewarding to be able to work with modern tools and frameworks.
Why was it important to you to join a smaller company?
Adam: Smaller companies working with market-leading clients have the unique ability to provide the benefits of a start-up – innovation, energy and team spirit, whilst being able to also provide the protection, consistent work-life balance and benefits of a larger company.
Louis: Working for a smaller company comes with a number of benefits. Your individual contribution has a greater impact on collaborative projects, and you are trusted with more responsibility and autonomy to manage and deliver work. The ability to have frequent discussions with everyone within the company greatly increases your understanding of the business as a whole and how each person individually contributes to the company’s successes. We’re a close-knit team with a shared sense of vision and a common belief in the organisation as a whole, it feels great to share your progress with others and see the positive impact of your work. Having open, inclusive conversations within a company with a flat structure means your voice can be heard in a way that just can’t happen in large, hierarchical corporations.
What level of experience did you need and was a degree in computing science important?
Adam: A degree in computer science was essential for providing a lot of context and structure to my learning, that being said, I don’t think it is the most important factor. Programming and taking a general interest in your day-to-day life is by far the most important thing. After university I didn’t feel I had a main marketable skill, therefore I chose to learn Django in my spare time and that was what allowed me to make the step into the industry. Programmers don’t have to have degrees; they just have to be programmers!
Louis: Most tech companies will be looking for you to have a degree in a relevant field. It’s an unfortunate reality but attending university and performing well on your course is the best way to prove your technical ability, self-motivation and resolve when you have limited work history. A computer science degree allows you to study a broad range of topics and will teach you theory. However, once you get into your career you will be focused on a much tighter range of topics and expected to pick things up quickly. Studying for a degree is a great time to learn how to learn which is invaluable in a field like web development where the technology is constantly moving forward. Make the most of your degree to get a feel for a broad range of topics and pursue a career in the one that motivates you the most.
What technical skills were Eliga Services looking for?
Adam: When Eliga hired me, it was for a migration from a legacy CMS to djangoCMS, apart from the obvious Django and djangoCMS knowledge, the other key technical skill was the ability to do effective research.
What advice would you give an applicant about a technical interview?
Adam: Nerves are always a big factor when going into interviews. For me, it helped to contextualise it as part of a learning process, rather than focussing on getting everything perfect every time. Focus on constantly improving.
(Louis hasn’t had enough experience of interviews to feel he could answer this question)
How important are soft skills, such as communication, to collaborate with colleagues and build long-standing relationships with clients?
Adam: Essential. No programmer is an island and without effective teamwork, communication, and mutual respect, projects are not managed effectively and spirits are ruined!
Louis: Soft skills are really important, especially in the current situation where meeting face-to-face has almost entirely been replaced by digital communication. Being able to communicate clearly and learning the subtleties of video calls, instant messaging and emails are all vital to working in a modern digital company. However, don’t be too worried if you haven’t had experience of this yet as you will pick this up over time with help from friendly colleagues.
What’s it like being part of the Eliga family?
Adam: It’s fantastic. The atmosphere of mutual support, innovation and drive create a workplace that is exciting and great to be part of while also providing an effective work-life barrier.
Louis: It’s been a very positive experience working with a close-knit team of skilled individuals coming together to build some exciting web products on top of cutting-edge technology.
What single piece of advice would give graduates looking for their first break?
Adam: The best advice I can give is to dedicate some time every day to programming and applying for jobs. It may take a while, but you’ll be improving every day.
Louis: Immerse yourself in web development. Developing your own projects is a great way to learn to code and a perfect way to show off to prospective employers. Most importantly, spending time working with the technology you might be using in your career is a perfect opportunity to work out whether this is something you enjoy!
Thanks so much Adam and Louis! We hope you find this advice super helpful.