Undergraduate Placement: Product Student

For the People – my experience at UKCloud

Now you may be wondering as to why I wrote this particular title, surely this blog is just going to explain about my experience at UKCloud and what this year has helped me to achieve. Well though that may be the main topic, “For the People” I assure you is intentional due to the fact that it is a big thank you to my colleagues at UKCloud, who deserve the recognition for their part, in guiding and helping me to develop into the person that I am today. Throughout the year and within my first moments of meeting them, I realized that not only are they dedicated to their work and customers, but they are also invested in the staff themselves, they are ‘for the people’ whether staff, customer or both.

Before coming to UKCloud, I worked part-time at Waitrose whilst studying Computing for Digital Media at the University of Sussex in Brighton. My studies so far had enabled me to learn both coding and the management of projects from start to finish using some of the techniques associated with Scrum Methodology.

My Placement Year started in July 2018 and though I knew I was up to the challenge, I was a little bit nervous in the beginning as I was given a role that involved a lot of responsibility in the complexity of the projects assigned and the possible interaction between some very important customers. A responsibility that I never thought a student could have but would later come to love.

To overcome my nerves I set myself a goal which encompasses a whole range of potential situations, and that was to take part in something that is out of my comfort zone and would not necessarily relate to any skills I currently have. The end result would then be that not only do I gain more experience and new skills, but also that I learn more about myself and who I have the potential to be.

Having been introduced to product management throughout university and volunteering at my local Church I soon got back into the familiar routine when carrying out my tasks, though with some alterations taught by my Supervisor and Manager that improved the efficiency and end result of each task.

During my first couple of weeks I discovered three words that would become very important to my everyday work and personal development throughout my year:

  • Self-starter: To get the most out of my year and gain better knowledge of where my skills might lie, I shouldn’t wait for opportunities to present themselves I should go and look for them myself. In doing so I not only gained a broad experience in various roles throughout the business but also discovered a pet project that soon became official and is currently waiting to be built.
  • Why: What are the reasons for doing this project? Why did you do the task this way, are there better approaches to take?
  • Evidence: How does this benefit the customer and company? Where did you get the information from?

No matter what their skill or level within the business, my colleagues took time out of their day to answer any questions I had, whilst providing support and encouragement to go and expand my horizon through all manners of topics, such as geography, communication and online courses. And so lastly, here is my advice to you:

  • Go out and explore new skills and experiences: Don’t feel limited by what you were able to do in the past or at this moment.
  • Try new things: You may never know what you are capable of doing if you focus on your limitations and stay in your safe zone.
  • Socialise: There is nothing more important than communication. Get to know your teammates and other teams in the business, you never know when you might have need of their help. A friendly face and a greeting can go a long way in improving relations between colleagues and teams. Just a simple ‘hello’ and a smile could make a difference to that person’s day, thereby creating a happy atmosphere at work when the greeting is passed on.