The Journey: The Graduate Induction

February 10, 2018

Non-technical article

After having graduated from the University of Bath I spent the last summer holiday I would ever have looking for a new flat. I ended up with a gorgeous, overpriced, tiny new-build studio apartment, walking distance from where my student flat was. My friend Dave needed a place to crash for a couple of weeks, so I took advantage of this by having him help me move my stuff from one place to the other. Dave actually ended up getting exactly the same job I did, just a few years later.

The time I didn’t spend moving house was spent coding. I had received a training project to be done in my own time before joining the company, to ensure I didn’t get left behind. The project was about reading enough of the official Java SE tutorials to be able to implement a Java RMI client and server that would communicate with each other, following certain requirements. Although I spent a fair bit of my spare time programming, I followed the same strategy that I did with my exams, and didn’t start this project until a couple of days before the deadline; my first day at work. I had convinced myself that I would understand OO better by practicing Python as it was a language I was more familiar with. My pre-work Java education thus became rather hasted, and I hurried to finish my required reading before my first day of work, where I was supposed to bring a flash drive with a .zip file containing the finished project.

The initial on-boarding phase was known as the graduate induction. As a mathematician this slightly annoyed me, as induction is a strategy for proving discrete valued conjectures in which you verify the conjecture for some initial value k, and then prove that if it holds for m it also holds for m+1. But I digress.

The first week of induction was spent reading and signing company policies, understanding our responsibilities, learning the procedures to follow, and getting to know each other. We were an intake of 9: 2 women and 7 men. We were supposed to be 10 but one never showed up. Most of us were fresh out of uni, and some of us hadn’t even had our graduation yet.

The technical part of the induction started in the second week. We began learning how to write good quality Java code, how to use Git, and doing code reviews. This week was great for picking up on the things I didn’t get around to in my hurried Java self study. I remember being shaky on try/catch blocks and not knowing what the difference between the static and final keywords in Java. The second week was also great because we got out first paycheck! I definitely had no objections to being paid.

In our third week we were split into groups of 3, competing against each other to build a draughts (checkers) game. The tasks we had to complete had very detailed low-level design documents written for them. These documents were supposed to model how our day-to-day work would be like. I have never seen one of those documents since. Design documents aside, this project was a lot of fun. At the very last day I was informed of what my first ‘project’ was going to be. I was relieved to hear it was a long-running Java project based in Bath.

This project would end up being the first 2 years of my career.

This is the second in a series of personal (rather than technical) blog posts detailing my journey as a software engineer from university to the present. I recognise the luck and privilege surrounding my career progression. I aim not to boast nor apologise for the successes and failures in my career, only to report them. The names in these blog posts have been altered to protect the innocent (from recruiters, mostly), but everything else is detailed as accurately as I legally can.

Roger Guldbrandsen

Written by Roger Guldbrandsen.