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Is work experience useful?

We, at Black Pepper, try to convert everyone to a software career. We are so passionate about what we do, that we jump at the opportunity of telling others how great software development is. This is why we think work experience programmes are useful. We've recently spent a week with Becky, who was contemplating a future career in software but didn't have a lot of information about what it's actually like to work in a software company. Here is her account of her one week experience with us:

Prior to my work experience at Black Pepper Software, I had a very weak idea of what determined the quality of software – even less so of how it was actually developed. I also had no idea of what to expect, or how the company even functioned – it's fair to say that I was mostly in the dark when it came to the development of software. Regardless, what I have learned here is far more than I could have expected at the start of the week, and, even more surprising, very enjoyable as well :).

The first thing I learned about here was the Agile approach to software development, working in continually delivered increments, as opposed to carrying out all of the requirements of the work in set stages of development. I quickly came to favour this process over the traditional Waterfall method as it is far more flexible, responding to changes and new requirements over the entire development of the project, as well as operating based on priority to deliver quality reliably – something which I found much more sense in. Very soon I found myself applying the process to ideas of my own.

Next, I was able to see the development and testing processes of individual features of projects, in addition to the software that they were part of. I already had a great interest in this, and what I saw was far from disappointing. The people I worked with were very forgiving of my lack of knowledge and were an amazing help in furthering it, even teaching me the beginnings of JavaScript and reviving my enthusiasm for programming (as well as enlightening me as to the joy of office banter). I was also given the opportunity to apply my creativity to the subject of UX, and learned about the principles of aesthetic and functionality in a user-friendly application. Looking back, I fail to see any area that I haven't had some experience of!

Though short, my time at Black Pepper Software has been invaluable: not only has it taught me a great deal about the different roles in software development, but also renewed my determination to pursue a career in the software industry. I now have a much better understanding of how software is developed – everything from writing the initial idea down to making it a quality, well-designed product – something which I will be drawing from a lot in my chosen career path. What's more, I couldn't have asked for a friendlier environment; everyone here has been a joy to learn from and the consideration put into my overall experience here is incredible. I value every aspect of it. Not only am I leaving with an amazing learning experience, but also the bragging rights for spending a week with the best software company!