Daniel Hirst

Find out about Daniel

Full name: Daniel Hirst 
Course: BSc (Hons) Computing (Software Development) 
Current job title: Junior Developer 
Current employer: Software Solved 

My placement year helped me greatly during my final year at university as I was able to apply the tools and skills I learned to my coursework. Additionally, my placement employer hired me after graduation, which reduced the stress involved in finding a job. 

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since graduation, I have been working for an Exeter based company called Software Solved. Software Solved is a software consultancy firm based in Exeter UK.  My current job role is as a Junior Developer. As a Junior Developer I have learnt about and contributed to a variety of projects in my 1 year in the job. For example, some clients use legacy software (sometimes older than me). In such cases, we support the older technology and update the system to use modern software architecture. Supporting older technologies has taught me a lot about software and has shown me how rapidly technology advances in this field. 

What is the best moment and/or most rewarding achievement you have experienced throughout your career, to date? 

Securing my software placement was a huge achievement, especially during the pandemic. Like many others, I strongly dislike the interview process. I applied to many different companies in the hope of securing a placement for my final year. The whole interview process gave me a bunch of different insights into how different companies conduct interviews. Learning to create test automation software at Software Solved has been rewarding. I have used this skill across my personal life and professional life. 

What is the most difficult experience you have faced in your career and how did your time at Plymouth help you overcome these?  

Time management and procrastination are struggles for nearly all students, and I was no exception to that rule. During my first year of university, while pursuing a foundation degree, I struggled with leaving my work until the last day. I found that I was getting very stressed during deadlines and the quality of my work was suffering. During my second year, I decided to change the way I worked. My plan was to do some work every day, even if only for 10 minutes (Pomodoro timer). These 'no zero days' of work meant that my goals and work were always progressing. This change in attitude helped reduce the stress of work as it was often completed weeks before the deadline and improved the quality of my work. The university deadlines helped push me to become much more proficient with my time management today.  

How did studying at the University of Plymouth influenced your career aspirations and plans, and/or help you reach where you are in your career now?  

Studying at the University of Plymouth helped me progress my career by providing a well-rounded experience for a software development student. The course prioritised skills that are essential in the software field. The lecturers taught languages that are widely used in the software development world, such as C#, which is a language I predominantly use today. The course also focused on soft skills, such as communication, in addition to technical skills. When creating software, it is easy to think that programming is all you need, but many other factors come into play in creating a great piece of software, such as communicating with clients.  
Male programmer working on desktop computer at white desk in office.
Diverse Office: Enthusiastic White IT Programmer Working on Desktop Computer. Male Specialist Creating Innovative Software. Engineer Developing App, Program, Video Game. Writing Code in Terminal - stock photo

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying, and developing their career in the same field as you?  

Software development is currently a growing industry that will be beneficial when you graduate. From what I have learned from other software developers, you are constantly learning and improving your understanding of concepts, and this is what initially attracted me to the field. The only advice I would give is to emphasise the importance of soft skills. One way to improve them is to get a part-time job that involves customer-facing interactions. Coming across professionally in video calls can be difficult when working from home, one method I used is to create a space in which you only work from. This separation keeps my work and home life balance. 
Coding concept with software developer touching code symbol and icons

If you did a placement year as part of your degree, please tell us about it.

University and employment provide different learning experiences. In university, you are usually working independently to finish a piece of coursework, whereas in software development, you work as part of a team to support each other in completing the work. During university, most of the time, you create a program with specific specifications. However, in business, the specifications can change and move, and being able to adapt to these changes is a skill that I gained during my placement year. My placement year helped me greatly during my final year at university as I was able to apply the tools and skills I learned to my coursework. Additionally, my placement employer hired me after graduation, which reduced the stress involved in finding a job. 

How did you find the support services that were available to you during your studies?  

The University of Plymouth has provided me with an abundance of support during my time studying. To get to the university, I had to commute around 1 hour each way. In the gaps between classes, the library was a great resource for not only books but also online resources. During the breaks between my classes, the library provided a quiet place to concentrate on completing my assignments. The library also provided access to computers which I frequently used. 
PALS, which is a student-led support scheme where year 2/3 students support year 1 students, was especially useful to me when I first started at the university. It was a great place to ask questions about difficult computing concepts and provided students with a forum to discuss problems related to the course. 
The Careers and Employability Service supported me during my placement and helped me secure it. I first heard about the placement opportunity from my current employer and many other employers at the careers fair, most of whom were looking for either graduates or placement students. 

BSc (Hons) Computer Science (Software Engineering)

Computing and software development drives many of the world’s greatest technologies, helping us to live, learn, build and even save lives. This course combines computer science, software engineering and information systems to give you the skills employers want.
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