Jake Evans

Current employer: PenCarrie Ltd

Current job title: Software Developer

Current location: Exeter

“The campus has a collection of great places where you can spend time researching, working, investigating, and catching-up with friends. Plymouth provided a great atmosphere in which to work. I think this was the single most important aspect for me.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I was lucky enough to be offered a job by a firm called PenCarrie Ltd straight after completing my final year modules. They are a clothing distributor in the South West who deal with customers all over the world, and needed a software developer with skills in C#, Microsoft .NET, System Architecture, Web Services, HTML, JavaScript, and the professional skills to deal with internal and external software requests, including managing some of these projects.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

Without a degree from the University of Plymouth my options would have been more limited. I intended to start my own company full time after leaving, but I soon realised that I needed more money to get started! It was the professional skills learned at university, coupled with the technical expertise in certain areas, that allowed me to move directly into a Software Developer role to gain money and experience.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

The most exciting thing I’ve done in my career was almost certainly taking part in an external software project, known as the Secchi project, which had some BBC and national news coverage. A good friend and colleague and I undertook the project to develop the cross-platform mobile application for the Marine Biological Society, which was released in early 2016 on various app stores including Windows, Google Play, and Apple.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?

Keep moving forward and find new technologies, frameworks, and ways of working that you hadn’t considered before. No technology is worthless, and the more you know and experience (even the ‘bad’ technologies) the more appealing you are to a potential employer. If you can demonstrate that you can investigate and analyse potential solutions on your own merit, then they’ll love you.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

The University of Plymouth has a knack for finding some of the most personable lecturers that I’ve ever encountered. These lecturers, some of whom I ultimately became good friends with, helped me understand both the fundamentals and the more in-depth nitty-gritty stuff. The campus has a collection of great places where you can spend time researching, working, investigating, and catching up with friends. Plymouth provided a great atmosphere in which to work. I think this was the single most important aspect for me.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

I had a knowledge of software development and programming before arriving; however, I simply hadn’t grasped the wide-reaching impacts that technology could have, or how to apply the basic problem solving I had to really big software projects. My course tackled the professional and project management aspects (learning to break problems down) and the technical aspects from bottom to top level, embedding software through to multi-tiered business-critical systems programming.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

I undertook a placement year on my course and moved to Maidenhead, Berkshire, where I worked for a company called Pythagoras. Pythagoras specialised in Microsoft Dynamics CRM software and I worked in a development role for a number of large organisations, spanning many sectors, with which they had on-going projects. Not only did this improve my technical ability and add experience, but I learned to deal with both technical and non-technical users well.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Staying up, all night, at my friend Liam’s flat helping him with his computer science and games coursework. His idea was to build an interactive ant colony game that used artificial intelligence and artificial life mechanics to determine whether the colony would survive. I think we decided to get two large pizzas, a multitude of sides, and some drinks and started programming. Eight hours later we had a fully functional, bright-and-colourful ant colony game.

Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?

Regularly! I have a good friend named Roy Tucker (Dr Roy Tucker, actually – congratulations Roy!) with whom I’m always chatting about various bits and pieces! I usually drop by the open days and offer holder days, and keep in touch with lectures like John Forde, Nigel Barlow and, of course, Shirley Atkinson – all of whom are very supportive and want to know what trouble I’m causing in the wide world.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?

I would absolutely recommend taking a course with the University of Plymouth, whether it was a technical course or not. The quality of lecturing that is given there is extraordinarily high, and lectures don’t just dictate to you and leave: they actively encourage questions, and will always openly offer help to anyone that feels they need it. The facilities at the university are second-to-none and there are always improvements being made on campus.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Just to say (as preachy as it sounds) that you really do get out what you put in from your course at Plymouth. If you want to be the best, put the time in, ask the questions, and explore as many opportunities as you can. It may feel a bit never-ending at times, but when you’re done, you can look forward to a huge party and a big wide world to explore.

Welcome to computing at University of Plymouth