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Placement - a year in review

Published: 1 July 2013 · Tags: review

Thoughts about the experiences from my industrail placement during my degree at Plymouth University

Exactly one year ago today I started my industrial placement as part of my Web Applications Development degree at Plymouth University. I’ve spent the placement year working for ClubnetSEM as a web developer.

The majority of the work I’ve been doing over the last year has been Magento stores, with a fair few WordPress builds and some bespoke PHP work appearing here and there. One thing comes to mind at this point that I learnt over this last year, I do not want to work with e–commerce in the future. The projects are far from exciting and rarely see the use of any bleeding-edge or emerging technologies. They even feel limited in terms of the design.

Working on the companies internal CMS has reinforced some existing knowledge, simply how important well-written, and documented, code is. Much of the code in the internal CMS was repeated in multiple places. It was poorly laid out, had no documentation, and for someone new to it was near impossible to figure out how it worked.

One of the more enjoyable tasks I was set during my placement (unfortunately incomplete, this was not a high priority) was to build the company a new CMS. I set out with the goal of keeping this as clean as possible, well laid-out object-orientated PHP with clear documentation that should allow just about anyone to pick it up and continue where I left off. Extendable as well, making it simple to add new features for new clients. That was easily the best project I got to work on.

The office for Clubnet was next-door to Plymouth Software, which is owned by Chris Blunt. Chris was a good friend throughout the year, and has been invaluable in providing ideas, feedback and advice for my final year project (details will be out soon). Chris is both kind and knowledgable, thanks for helping make it a great year.

Working has made a nice change from education. In education you’re constantly thinking about work, what needs doing next and when the next deadline is. It was nice to be able to switch off completely after 5:00 PM and forget about what you’ve been working on for the day, and what you’ve got to get done the next day. I am, however, looking forword to going back to university next year to continue working on my own projects which are of high interest to me.

The more negative side to working was how drained it leaves you feeling at the end of the day; by the time you’ve spent eight hours working in the office you really don’t feel like doing much when you go home. One of the best decisions I made over the year was to buy a road bike and start commuting by bike. Not only did this decrease the time spent travelling (bus took 50 minutes each way, riding took me 30 minutes into work, and 20 home) but it also woke me up again which meant I could get things done in the evenings again. This also meant and increase in fitness, which only makes riding the proper bike more fun on the weekends.

The year provided me with inspiration for my final–year project, details for which will be announced soon. For me this was one of the highlights of the year, as I’m hoping to turn this into a commercially viable product after university, but only time will tell how this goes. If all goes to plan, who knows, in five years time I might be in a position to hire an intern student for a year.


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