Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Claritas Solutions coding advice – tips for Junior Developers

Starting a career in coding can come at a young age for some whilst for others it can be a change in career that happens further into their professional working life. If you’re looking to become a Junior Developer there is valuable advice available online to help prepare you for the role.

At Claritas, we have developers at different levels working on clients of varying sizes and industries. James Cooke is one of them and we recently caught up with our junior developer to talk coding.

James Cooke – Junior Developer

When did you first become interested in coding?

When I worked in the private healthcare sector to get some experience to improve a medical school application, I realised that the field wasn’t actually for me. I knew I wanted a career, and not just a job, so I turned towards my life-long interest in technology for inspiration. My role as a care assistant saw me working in a rapidly changing environment.
One of my frustrations was that a solution to a problem one day may be completely ineffective the next day. This is when I realised that coding could be appealing as this issue doesn’t really occur (at least at a basic level), so I took a look online to see what coding was all about and have a go at it myself. That’s when I got hooked, and enrolled on a 1 year Master’s Degree in Computing (after doing a 3yr Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science!).

What is your career background?

My career is still in its infancy, but I have worked for 2 large multinational corporations as a junior developer prior to my position at Claritas. My initial placement was only for a very short time, but involved enhancing a system that supported the processes around organising and supporting clinical trials. I got this job right off the back of my Master’s Degree. In my second role, I took on a variety of tasks to enhance a long standing pensions administration system, whether it be everyday bug fixes, developing reports, or the addition of new/client-specific functionality.

What is your role at Claritas?

As a Junior Developer, my job is to help the development team develop software solutions as per client requirements. Typically, developers with less experience handle the development of the simpler tasks, whilst the more difficult tasks are handled by senior developers, with anything in between being handled by both. At Claritas however, any developer can take on any piece of work, simple or complex. As a junior, one day I could be adding some text and a button to a form, and the next day be making changes to complex algorithms that affect the core business logic of an application. The more difficult tasks do require more time and guidance to complete to the high standards we work to, but this type of development poses the best opportunity to learn and enhance my skillset, which in the long run is the best thing for both me and the business.

What do you enjoy about coding?

Developing software that other people are going to use to increase productivity, or to streamline a process is quite rewarding. This may sound boring when summed up in a generic manner like this, but when this concept is applied to the real world, it can mean patients can get access to the medical equipment they need faster, or police can collaborate more effectively to catch criminals sooner. That’s something to be proud of, and that’s just in my line of work at the moment. When you consider other fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Computer Aided Design, Simulation, Banking, Embedded Systems, Gaming, Music… there are endless opportunities to explore.

I also like the detective style work that is coupled with software development. At some stage something goes wrong, and I’ll have to figure out what’s gone wrong and try to fix it. Sometimes it can take minutes, sometimes it can take days! But when I’ve solved the puzzle it’s a great feeling. So many times I’ve gone home thinking I’ll never be able to solve the problem I encountered that day, but the day (or few days) after I always figure it out and I surprise myself.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about a career in coding?

Try at it out and see what you think. There are so many online resources to look at, for people who have never written a line of code, right through to content relevant to industry experts. If you try coding and get excited about what you could build if you got better, then I’d say go for it. If I’d have known what is was like sooner, I would have started sooner. It can seem quite intimidating thinking about it at first, but when you try it you soon get into the swing of things. It’s not the wizardry and witchcraft you might think it is where you have to make sense of a computer screen packed full of rainbow coloured numbers and symbols that look like digital hieroglyphics, nor do you have to be a whizz at maths. There’s plenty of scope for the more creative person to get involved as well. Coding isn’t exclusive to a certain type or group of people, and it can be quite fun when coding with other people of a similar mind-set too.
If you enjoy logical thinking and solving lots of simple problems to solve a big problem, try your hand at coding.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I never had any exposure to coding when I was young. It was always portrayed by my friends as being boring, and dull, that only introverted types like to do. Hearing this put me off from the start (as well as not having the opportunity to learn it at school), but it simply isn’t true. My advice is to try it for yourself so you can make your own judgement what it’s like (don’t even rely on what your close friends say). As a software developer I’ve learnt loads of new skills, and met some great people. I’m constantly in collaboration with members of my own team as well as other teams. It’s actually a very sociable job, and one that is in high demand so you’ll never be out of work. It ticks a lot of boxes!

I really like this video. It’s very inspiring and it’s one I watched when I was thinking about becoming a software developer -

We’re always keen to hear from budding coders so why not connect with us on social media? We’re posting about I.T. and tech news, cybersecurity, best practice and a whole host of other topics.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What world-class digital connectivity would mean for Britain

When you think of Britain you think of a country which, for the most part, is technologically savvy. After all, some of the world’s biggest tech companies have major offices here and London is often seen as a European hub for tech talent.

Like every nation however, the UK has areas to improve on. Although it’s within reason to say that when it comes to the digital side of things we’re okay, good even, there are certainly those who are better, and in fact, we are lagging behind many other countries.

‘OK’ or ‘good’ may be the problem. If Britain’s digital economy had a school report, it would read “good but could do better” or “room for improvement”. That’s according to industry body, techUK, which has explained that Britain’s digital infrastructure is ‘good’ but not ‘great’.

When assessing the fastest internet speeds by country, the UK doesn’t even make the top 20, sitting in a not so flattering 23rd position. Once again, highlighting the fact there is certainly room for improvement.

London particularly suffers from sub-standard broadband and 4G speeds which are threatening its success and international competitiveness, a London Assembly Regeneration Committee investigation concluded.

The UK’s mediocre capabilities for digital connectivity could be detrimental in years to come, which is why ministers have been encouraged to work more closely with the industry, local authorities and Ofcom to deliver "world-class digital connectivity".

Digital connectivity has been referred to as Great Britain’s 4th utility, however we are often cited as being behind when it comes to broadband and mobile network coverage. The Government has set out a strategy which plans to combat the shortfall in national connectivity, build world-class digital infrastructure for the UK, and make the UK one of the world’s digital leaders by 2020.

Julian David, Chief Executive of techUK, explained: "As the UK looks to reposition itself as Global Britain, improving digital infrastructure will incentivise the investment and innovation necessary to raise productivity and deliver economic growth for the whole country."

What impact would this have?

  • If improvements are not made to connectivity, it is believed to be a deal-breaker for some companies who may potentially plough resources into the UK in a post-Brexit world
  • According to techUK, world class connectivity underpins the transformation of almost every sector of the UK economy, from policing and farming to businesses engaged in "advanced and multinational manufacturing value chains"
  • The change would bring about a more dynamic environment for ultrafast broadband and wireless networks
  • The embracing of advancements in connectivity would prepare Britain for more advanced technology as we move into a new decade, throughout 2020 and onward.

At Claritas, we know the need for higher levels and greater speed of connectivity and how Britain would benefit from making these significant steps forward. The country needs to make substantial improvements as the future of many British businesses is currently under threat. The Government’s plans for 5G and digital infrastructure improvements by 2020 can’t come soon enough.