Inspiring the software developers of the future

At Black Pepper we're passionate about software, and about sharing that passion with young, aspiring software engineers. We work with a number of local schools to provide work experience for teenagers, giving them a taste of what life is like in a professional software company.

As part of this programme, we recently welcomed Dan from North Leamington School to join us for a week. Here's his account of his time at Black Pepper:

Before I started my week of work experience at Black Pepper I really didn't know what to expect as I didn't know much about the process of software development but I was interested in learning more about it to see if it was something I'd like to pursue in my future career.

When I arrived on my first day I was given a Raspberry Pi computer and was told that throughout the week I was to work on a project to showcase at the end of the week. The project I chose to work on used a temperature sensor and the goal was to display the temperatures of one of the office rooms in a graph on a web page and to also show whether the temperature in the room was comfortable or not with a LED connected to the Raspberry Pi. Before I started work on this project I created a set of stories - small sticky notes which show what each feature in my project would be useful to a user for.

During the week not only did I get to learn lots about programming and development of software but I was also taught about the Agile development process - something I'd never been taught at school. Simon, who I was working alongside throughout the week, explained this really well and I learnt how the company works on client projects by this process. I got to spend time in different departments such as marketing, finance and also with project managers to learn more about how Black Pepper functions as a company. Working with UX designers really opened my eyes as to how it's not just the developing aspect of software that is important but also designing user interfaces in a way which can easily be navigated by the end user. Spending time in the finance department taught me a lot about what it's like to work with different clients and managing money. I was allowed to stand in and take part in meetings during the week and everyone who I spoke to throughout the week was very friendly and helpful.

In the middle of the week I got to watch a very interesting presentation from somebody called Daniel about the Raspberry Pi and his entry into a national robotics competition called PiWars. From this, I learnt how versatile the Raspberry Pi is and how it can be used for so many different projects including mine.

Whilst I was developing my project I had to work on fixing bugs and issues which prevented it from working correctly. However, whenever I had a problem or was unsure about how to do something the team here at Black Pepper were always willing to help me or give advice. In the end I was able to finish my project and demonstrate it at the end of the week - a graph which showed the latest temperatures recorded in the office :-)

From my work experience I have learned so much about software development, much more than I have been taught at school in my Computer Science / IT lessons and way more than I had expected to learn in just one week. I've been able to pick up new programming platforms and languages such as Angular and JSON as well as being able to further my knowledge in Python and the Raspberry Pi. I would recommend work experience at Black Pepper to anyone who wants to know more about software development and the Agile process, it has been so much fun and I have really enjoyed my time here.