Did you know, we’re currently recruiting for our IT Trainee programme? Adding to our series introducing you to the talented people within OS, meet Joel Perren. As an Associate Technician on the IT Trainee programme, here he tells us more about his journey and life at OS…
Tell us a bit about yourself
After finishing my master’s degree in Geographical Information Systems, I worked for two years as a Transport Planner. I really enjoyed the programming I did at university and in my subsequent job, so I decided to start looking for roles in software engineering. As I didn’t have any formal education in computer science and only a small portfolio of programming-related work, I wanted an entry-level or trainee role where I could learn on the job.
When I decided I wanted to switch careers, I remember vividly sitting and thinking “what companies would I like to work for?”. I had been following the ongoing work on the OS Data Hub in my previous job and was aware of the fascinating work going on at OS. I thought it would be the perfect company to blend my interests in geography and GIS with my desire to become a Software Engineer. Plus, you get a free subscription to the OS Maps app…
How would you describe OS?
Having joined in April 2020, most of us were working from home as a result of Covid-19. Despite this, I have found the OS to be incredibly welcoming. Everyone I speak to is happy to give me their time and are extremely friendly and passionate about their work. I have made some good friends here already even though I have never been into the Head Office (except for my interview), and I can’t wait to be able to move to Southampton and meet everyone in person! (Is 2021 the year?!)
What drew you to the programme?
The OS was the first company I looked at when searching for a new role and I knew straight away that the IT Trainee programme was exactly what I was looking for. It allows you to learn software engineering in a hands-on way and get involved in real projects as soon as you feel comfortable.
What do you do as an IT Trainee?
What is it like being part of the IT Trainee programme?
It has been challenging, but in a good way. I always feel like I am well supported and continuously learning – I am consistently impressed by my progress when I look back at where I started. I really appreciate the variety of work as you get hands-on experience with a broad range of technologies.
What does the programme involve?
Constant learning! There is a lot to learn but you are well supported and everyone is happy to spend time explaining things or helping with questions you may have.
What have you found most interesting in the IT Trainee programme?
In recent weeks I have been working on a new project as part of a small team. It has involved a lot of Java code which I really enjoy and has also been a great opportunity to put into practice everything I have learned over the last year. It is incredibly satisfying and a great experience starting a project from scratch and watching it come together!
At the end of the programme what do you hope to have gained?
I am now 8 months or so into the programme and looking back I can already see that I have gained so much. Essentially, I have learned how to be a Software Engineer. I know so much more than when I started, and I am a lot more confident. I can pick up a task and have the toolset to be able to complete it even if I am not familiar with it. Software engineering is really about learning to learn, and this programme teaches you that wonderfully.
Where do you see yourself once the programme is complete?
I am incredibly glad that I decided to look at OS when I did and was able to apply for this programme. I have had an amazing time working here, I have learned so much and met some lovely people. I can honestly say that I look forward to each day and hope to continue my career here long into the future!
How did you find the interview process?
The worst part of the interview was the drive down… The actual interview itself was very good, there were three people from OS and me, but it felt very relaxed and we were able to have a laugh to break the ice. There were some general character questions as well as some technical questions, but there was no expectation of a high level of background knowledge or experience in software engineering. They were also helpful and honest in answering my questions about what it was like working at OS and living in/around Southampton!
Where did you hear about the programme?
I found out about it by going on the OS website. It was incredibly fortunate as it was the exact role I had been looking for and it was the first company’s website I had checked!
As I mentioned above, the IT Trainee role is really about learning how to learn. Everyone has their own strategies that work for them and it is important that you figure out what works for you. Everyone at OS is incredibly helpful and willing to give you their time to answer questions or show you how to do things, but you do have to be proactive and organise those sessions yourself. That can definitely be a bit intimidating when you first start but you will be a lot better off for it!