Ten years since Genesys
– Eva M Barabas
– Eva M Barabas
"The experience is immersive and you should use it as an opportunity to frame your thinking, improve your development skills, teamwork skills as well as learn about the different aspects of the software development life cycle."
"I've made friendships that last a lifetime (now hitting 10 years)."
"We even learned that last minute deployments might not result in what you expect, the hard way!"
Starting my Masters in Advanced Software Engineering in September 2010 – four years after I'd been at the University of Sheffield as an Erasmus student was the highlight of my year. I had big plans around taking a part-time development job while I was studying but after a break of 1.5 years since graduation and my junior development role, I knew that Genesys would give me the right combination of real world experience while also providing a safe learning environment. It also provided some early team leadership experience as was appointed as a Team Lead for the testing team.
Looking back, all challenges seemed to revolve around getting back into a learning mindset while balancing the requirements of delivery as well as looking at the team members' challenges in their particular areas. I reframed the work that we'd been doing as quality engineering to ensure the value being provided was evident.
The testing team members were embedded in various development teams and since then, have ended up being developers in test, testers or continued in pursuing a career in development.
I remember two particular incidents that defined my thinking around the idiom – the unit of delivery is the team.
Firstly, a debate with a team member about switching teams (lasting about three hours) that didn't make sense. It was around personal preference vs the good of the wider team and I had to make the difficult decision to go against their wishes but in the long term it was the right solution for them. A valuable skill to take forward into my professional career.
Secondly, having to defend one of the team members from an escalated complaint about performance that didn't seem realistic. The way this was raised was questionable, so defending the team member was the right thing to do. The team member in question proved the allegations were unfounded, but this could have been handled much easier through better communication between the two team members, or approaching me as a team leader to assist before it escalated.
After a year, myself and a team member decided to build a knowledge base project for Genesys as our dissertation project, following the same methodology as we learned during the course, stepping away from testing into development. We used agile methodologies and customer engagement to drive the project forward. We went through the lifecycle of the application and documented as we went along. We even learned that last minute deployments might not result in what you expect, the hard way!
From there, I've applied to a graduate programme and epiGenesys as a mid-level developer, and chose to join the latter as the opportunity to shift my perception from learner into teacher/trainer was really appealing. It also meant I could continue evolving my career as a Ruby developer in a professional setting.
After almost 2.5 years at epiGenesys, I landed a role as a senior developer at NHS.UK. During my six years, I've managed the technical elements of the Digital Campaigns team with Public Health England as a Senior Ruby developer and then as a tech lead.
In the last six months, as a Principal Engineer working for the UK Home Office, I have built up engineering capability and expanded the Sheffield Hub, contributing to Shared Application Services growth as a new department, its Ways of Working and bootstrapped the Application Development arm of it. I'm now working with my colleagues to prove that our insourcing engineering strategy is a viable solution for the business.
Through Genesys I've made friendships that last a lifetime (now hitting 10 years), I've gained mentors, work and ex-work colleagues, collaborators for my technology-based volunteering work, and the experience has shaped my career in ways I didn't think were possible at the time.
I thoroughly recommend Student Enterprises, and particularly, Genesys, to anyone that is contemplating a career in software engineering – whether that is in academia or in industry. The experience is immersive and you should use it as an opportunity to frame your thinking, improve your development skills, teamwork skills as well as learn about the different aspects of the software development life cycle. It's an excellent opportunity to learn, through experiential learning, that the end goal is the value delivered to end users.