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What's your background?

I am from a town called Carluke in South Lanarkshire, and I graduated in 2014 with a 2:1 in Information Technology from University of the West of Scotland. My degree was a good base for my career as it allowed me to study many different disciplines such as Web Development, Games Development & Design, Animation and Networking. While studying at university, I had worked in retail for years which I enjoyed but ultimately wasn’t for me and knew that design and development was where my skills were best.

What was your role at Orb Group?

The main role I was brought in to do was to take over all web development duties and the E-Commerce stores and online presence. Orb had outsourced their web development for the last few years, and the team were looking to bring development in house, saving money for the business.

Why did you apply for a ScotGrad placement?

I decided to apply for the placement as I needed a challenging, engaging role where I could progress and learn new technologies and web development trends. The skills that were advertised were similar to what I had learned at university and did not seem too overwhelming, even though there were a few technologies I had not worked with before. Picking these new skills and technologies was challenging but ultimately rewarding.

Orb Group have allowed me to grow and develop my skills in web development and I have surprised myself with what I am now capable of: working on multiple websites and projects in unison with day to day tasks and maintenance. To work for a small company which is ambitious with a global outlook was a major factor in me joining too, as I would play a massive part in the team and be involved with major projects for global brands.

What projects were you involved in during your placement?

The work and development I have achieved in the last year has been unrivalled to any year in my life, as I have deployed many websites which are all pretty unique and have different requirements for each website/client. I am now very efficient with Magento and WordPress as well as other CMS and feel very confident with most web development projects. Some projects include:

  1. Setting up new client websites such as web stores for Visa, AIA, Cunningham Lindsay, Arnold Clark, Tunnock's and SalesForce.
  2. The migration of old websites on an old installation of Magento to an new installation with a new database which involved exporting and importing products, customers and tax rates/rules. (This was a complex project as the data was not easy to transfer as the format of the csv's has to be changed completely)

I have expanded my knowledge in the programming language PHP dramatically as well as other common languages and database management such as phpmyadmin and MySQL.

What did you expect to gain?

I expected to learn new skills, technologies and have a good work/life balance and I have absolutely found this to be the case. Since leaving retail I have never been happier really, and my placement has had a huge impact on this. I expected that, working for a promotional merchandise company, the industry would be very competitive and it proved to be just this when I joined. It was good to look at competitor websites and technologies that these companies use, and analyse that we were not as far behind the major international players as we thought. We were strong in other technologies, such as our E-Commerce stores, too.

How did you find the ScotGrad Training Course?

I found the tutors John and Russell to be excellent, and after I left the residential training course I felt inspired to achieve more with my career and goals. They were very constructive and did not patronise or simplify the course in any way, making it challenging and therefore beneficial to us all on the course. The networking at this event also highlighted how important it is to talk to people in any industry and be connected with people in all walks of life, asking for help or even simple questions can make the world of difference, and even lead to a freelance job.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to graduates?

Try and keep your CV as up to date as possible, with work experience coming first. The residential training course pointed out to me that the first few months of my placement were more important than the majority of my CV before the placement. The team at ScotGrad are very helpful and go above and beyond to help you in your placement really, I couldn’t recommend it more.

Any top tips for applications?

Put as much effort into your application as you can, rather than applying for as many placements and jobs as possible. I only applied for two placements/jobs after I graduated, the second being Orb. I remember putting a lot of words into it, then refining the content and making sure I answered and discussed all of the requirements and skills from the job description in detail.

What are your future career plans?

To continue to develop in my career at Orb and keep up-to-date with the latest web development and technology trends by attending workshops and conferences on e-commerce. I can see myself working at Orb for the next few years at least and progressing to a manager, potentially employing other developers and growing the business even further.

Would you recommend ScotGrad?

I couldn't recommend a ScotGrad placement enough to a graduate, as it is the perfect stepping stone into a full time career (in my case, as a Web Developer). The key benefits are direct communication with management and working closely with them, making a huge difference to a small company, and constantly learning new technologies and developing ideas.

Start your graduate career through ScotGrad by applying here!