David McGawn joined ICS Learn in 2013 on a 12 month placement through ScotGrad. Still with the company in 2016, he tells us more about his experience.
What's your background?
My name is David McGawn, and I stay in a town in the south west of Scotland called Ayr, in Ayrshire. I started off my career in IT by mistake to be honest, I never really paid much attention at school and never took any IT subjects (which I regret!). I started off in the catering industry as a chef, and then my mother took ill so then I came to look after her as her carer. When she passed I was the responsible adult of the house at just 18, so had to look after my brother and sister who were still at school. After they both went to college/university I decided to try out the world of IT at college and loved it, and continued all the way through university to my honours year. I finished my honours with a 2:1 in Multimedia Technology (BSc).
What projects were you involved in during your placement?
My role was a web developer and part of the marketing team at ICS Learn. (The only web developer in the company). My role used to be outsourced to another company.
I have been involved in loads of projects at ICS Learn. To name a few; full new responsive site (front end), full E-Commerce site, full new back end CMS system ('Umbraco', during which I had the pleasure of a trip to the Umbraco HQ in Denmark for a week’s training), and one last big one would be an integration with the new CRM system ('Salesforce', which I also do development on and am currently learning).
What appealed to you about the placement?
I found the placement online and instantly thought it fitted my University skill set. Also, the pay was really good for just leaving University. I liked the idea that it was in the education sector, and in my head I knew they would be a company that was willing for their employees to learn, which is something I loved about it.
What did you expect to gain?
I expected to learn in the real world and gain skills I had not developed that much while at Uni, such as verbal and phone skills, stuff that is not part of your course. What I did learn was way more than I could have imagined.
What skills did you bring to your placement?
Most of the skills I brought to the table were coding and design skills, as that’s what my field of study was. This was a big help for ICS Learn as they used to outsource all projects, which means in this fast paced web, things were taking too long to get done. This was their reason of employing a graduate - to get things moving faster.
What skills have you developed?
I have developed a whole range of skills I never thought I would. I now know most of what there is to know about Marketing without ever studying it, just by working so close to the 2 marketing managers. The company has been very flexible about giving me time to learn and keep up to date. The biggest thing I have learned is the CMS Umbraco, which is the main hub for our online business, which I am in full control of.
Would you recommend ScotGrad?
Yeah most definitely, I would recommend it. It is a great starting point for graduates to get into the industry field that they are looking to work in. ScotGrad seem to pick the best employers to work with, and employers that are willing for you to keep learning, which is best when you first leave uni.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to graduates?
Apply for jobs early, and don’t give up! It took me 2 months to get an interview and 5 months to get a placement. Also, don’t be scared to apply for jobs that are above what you think you can do, as 9 times out of 10 we underestimate ourselves. Be honest - if you get an interview just tell the truth about your skills, and if you're asked about a skill that you don’t have, say: “I don’t currently have that skill but it is one that I am willing to learn if given the position”
Check out David's personal website here: http://mcgawndesigns.co.uk
David's LinkedIn: David McGawn
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