Daniel Groves

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Ending an era: finishing university

Published: 10 May 2014 · Tags: review, university

Some thoughts on the last four years at university

Yesterday afternoon I finally finished my final exam. That’s four years at Plymouth University (including a placement year) coming to an end as I now play the waiting game until my results finally come through in July.

The course I’ve been studying, web applications development, has changed my interests within the field from a front-end perspective to a very much backend perspective with a large interest in Python based work. Much of this change has come from the types of assignments we’ve been working on during my degree, with the interest in Python coming from my final year project (more on that later).

When I arrived at university I had a small amount of experience with PHP (largely around WordPress), and good knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Since starting university I have now spent time using more technologies than I ever imagined I would: PHP, C#, Java, Node.js, ActionScript, Python, small bits of Ruby, and Android Development (albeit, Java based). Further to this I have also found the world of web frameworks gaining experience with both ASP.net and Django.

Throughout university I have had interesting experience; from my work placement, through to sport and friends. Whilst at university I have become an active member of the University of Plymouth Cycling Club, and worked on the committee for two years assisting with the organisation of the club, events and rides. Throughout my degree I have made friends through the cycling club, my course, but also through attending events I once wouldn’t have: DigPen and Agile on the Beach.

During my final year I have been working on Server Observer, a Python based server monitoring utility. This project has proven to be one of the biggest learning curves since I started as I had to work with numerous technologies I was unfamiliar with, but also tried my hand at programming a different type of system to my prior experience (past experience was purely web, needed to build a UNIX system service). This project had to built to scale, and was an area I had little knowledge in before I started. The project allowed me to gain experience with a large technology stack: Python, PostgreSQL, Django framework, Redis, Ansible and Twilio to name a few.

I have, however, hit a point where I need to make a decision about my own future. Do I take a nine–to–five, or do I work for myself? The prospect of working on a freelance basis has always attracted me, but I am currently unsure if this is the right way to go directly out of university. As it currently stands, this holds a larger attraction from the perspective of being able to make more time for my own projects as well as making an income. Whatever way I look at it though, should the right job come along either as a freelance project or as a nine–to–five I would take it without batting an eyelid.

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