A day in the life of a Developer

11 April 2016 | Rachel Harvey | About a 6 minute read
Tags: Developers, Development, Product Developers, software development


Ever wondered what it is like working at AND Digital as a developer? We interview one of our level 5 developers, Ashley, and pick his brains on being a developer, his day to day work at AND Digital… and why he loves his job.

Ashley, so what made you want to become a developer?

Ever since I was young I’ve wanted to understand how things work and build things of my own. As a little kid I was always playing with Lego and Technic, and I would build dens and my own little inventions. As I reached my teens, I developed a real interest in maths, physics, and engineering. These subjects all played into my desire to understand how things work and how to build things, and this path ultimately led me to study Engineering Science at Oxford.

During my undergrad course I covered all of the main engineering disciplines but found myself gravitating toward software engineering and algorithms where I could take an idea and, using free open-source software, rapidly prototype a new tool or system. The value that can be generated from nothing with software is amazing. I remember being at university when Facebook was first spreading to the UK and realising that it was actually a relatively simple site, and that I had enough skills and knowledge at that point to have built it! Nowadays the industry is a little more competitive, but there are still so many possibilities out there and these will only multiply over time as technology progresses.

The potential in terms of what I can build with software really excites me and I still love understanding how things operate, writing my own code and building my own systems.



Product Developer AND Handyman!

What made you want to do it at AND Digital?

After working as a Lead Developer in my previous company, I was ready for a new challenge. I was approached by AND Digital on LinkedIn and, after some research, I really liked what I found! There are a lot of places a developer can work in London, but between the culture, team, company, salary, clients etc. there is usually a weak link. With AND Digital, I really liked the sound of everything! Searching around the website and reading about the other employees I realised there were a lot of smart people working here, and there was a client list full of large, impressive companies.

I thought the developer test I completed (where I was challenged to build a small app to deliver specific functionality for a mock client demo) was a really good way of assessing my skills and allowed me to demonstrate the quality of the code I write and the standard of the products I can create, rather than getting me to answer a random set of logic or coding puzzles. Coming in for my interview was a little daunting, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realised it was as much more about my interviewers wanting to tell me about the company and its aspirations, as it was about me describing myself and skills. The company’s growth ambitions alongside the supportive and friendly culture convinced me that this was where I wanted to work.

What do you love about your job at AND Digital?

I love working on projects for big name clients and being challenged to understand and solve problems that others have struggled with. I love working with the other really smart developers and analysts that make up our Club, in an environment where everyone operates in an Agile process, sharing responsibility for the output of the whole team, and working hard to help each other out and keep the project progressing. The company values of “wonder, share, delight” really resonate with me. I love teaching others how to do things, sharing my knowledge and being encouraged to dream up new products and solutions that really delight our clients.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I get into the office around 9am, I spend my first hour checking emails and Slack messages and following up on these as necessary. I try to finish off any open tickets I’m currently working on ahead of our daily stand-up. At 10am, my project team gather together and review what we each did the day before, what we will be doing that day and we try to identify any impediments to that planned work.

For the rest of the day I’m free to work on the tickets in the current sprint that I have pulled for myself. The way I work depends on the ticket; it can be individual, pair programming, or a full team effort depending on requirements. When I complete a piece of work, I ensure all of the criteria of our ‘definition of done’ have been met and will then open a pull request to merge the relevant code. I’ll ask another developer to review this for me to ensure it meets our coding standards, answer any questions they might have, and take onboard any suggestions they offer.

Depending on the day, there may be other sprint events I will attend with the rest of my team, where we will plan or review upcoming or completed work. I usually leave the office around 5.30pm and although I might continue thinking about work problems and researching in my spare time, this is totally my choice which I do because I am genuinely interested to learn and solve problems rather than there being any pressure to work all hours. The opposite actually, I keep getting told to stop 🙂

What’s the best part of your day?

Lunch! I like food 🙂 Unless it’s one of the days we have massages scheduled as part of our wellness initiative (which we did today), then it’s definitely the time I’m in the chair being pampered 🙂 I’m generally pretty happy throughout the day though, I like what I do and I enjoy working with my colleagues on our projects.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a team project for a leading timber and building merchant. We have been tasked with analysing the codebase of one of their child companies to document the installation, configuration, maintenance, and running of the platform. Most recently, we have been asked to write a suite of end-to-end tests to cover the main use cases of the system and to develop a script to run these in such a way as to build a business simulation demonstrating that we can run the platform in a realistic manner. In parallel with this, we are also beginning to refactor some of the code to implement software best practices and add new required functionality.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to other Developers looking to work at AND Digital?

Hmm, probably just to be passionate and communicate what you love about development – talk about the new tech trends you’re following, tools you’re excited to use etc. When it comes to the developer test I think we’ve recently removed the time limit, so take your time with it and develop something that really demonstrates your skills and meets the requirements of the test.

We have so many different communities within the company so when you join, take a look what’s out there and join the group that interest you. It’s a great way to get to know more about the other devs, and talk about and work on things that you’re passionate about. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, start a new group and invite others to join!

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