Richard Imms - software engineer at Accenture

Richard Imms, BSc (Hons) Computer Science, at Accenture

"Recognising the opportunity to improve my knowledge base, I enrolled on courses during my placement, which resulted in me developing new skills and also gaining certification to evidence these."

Who was your placement with and what was your job title?

My placement was with Accenture, a technology consulting company based in London. The job title I was given was Software Engineer.

What attracted you to this placement opportunity?

Accenture is within the FTSE 100 companies and has 80 per cent of the FTSE 100 as clients. This seemed like a great opportunity to get plenty of experience at a range of companies, each with their own unique challenges.

How did you go about securing your placement and what was the process for this?

Plymouth University provided students with a list of previous employers and while scrolling through this list, I spotted Accenture. After researching more into this company, I found that they suited me and my ambitions. The process of securing the placement began with me uploading my CV. After uploading my CV, I was quickly shortlisted by Accenture. The next step was to answer a list of competency questions and complete a small profile of myself to see where I would best fit within the company. The penultimate stage was an online programming challenge and a video interview. The video interview consisted of a series of scenario based questions, such as “If a project is falling behind deadline what would you do?”. The final stage was a face-to-face interview in London with a manager from Accenture.

Can you describe the various roles and responsibilities of your placement?

During my placement, I was involved in a number of different roles; these included: software testing, robotic development, API and Automated Tested Framework Development, data analytics and error reporting. On one project, I was also a Code Reviewer, this involved analyzing other developers’ codes and ensuring that they met the standards required. I was also a junior team leader in another role, which saw me in charge of two other developers with the aim of making sure we met deadlines and kept to requirements.

How did Plymouth University and your lecturers support you both before and during your placement?

Plymouth University provided me with the BPIE modules which helped prepare me for the placement year. The BPIE module offered information including what was expected of me over the placement year and a support network of tutors and contacts. During my placement year, I had a number of visits and emails with my assigned tutor to discuss my progress and next steps. This continual support provided me with a set of goals that I set out to achieve during my placement.

How did your previous studies enable you to be successful during your placement?

Throughout my placement, I used the majority of Software Engineering techniques that I had been taught at Plymouth University, which included Database Design, Class Design, Object Oriented development and Design Patterns. I also feel that Plymouth University taught me how to be ambitious with my goals and to always be curious and explore other avenues.

This resulted in me having the confidence to use programming languages, which, before my placement, I’d had no prior experience of using. Recognising the opportunity to improve my knowledge base, I enrolled on courses during my placement, which resulted in me developing new skills and also gaining certification to evidence this.

How will your placement help you with the final year of your degree?

The placement year prepared me for final year by providing me with a wide variety of experiences in a number of different roles; from this, I was able to gain an insight into the way businesses are looking at new technology and ways to improve their current approaches. After finishing my placement year, I felt I had direction and I knew which modules I needed to pick in my final year to help me achieve my new found aims. On top of this, I was also inspired to come up with a few ideas for my final year project and see which of these ideas would be feasible.

In terms of your career development so far, what have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?

The placement year taught me how to interact with different people throughout the company at differing levels and how to approach conversations to get the maximum amount of information out of them. I also learnt key skills in presenting, correct conduct in the workplace and most importantly confidence in my own skills and ability.

What would you say to a prospective student thinking about undertaking a placement year?

My advice would be to take a placement year at a company that will provide you with the opportunities to undertake a wide variety of problems, which suit your degree. Take all the opportunities you can and try to get an idea of what it is that you want to do and pursue post-university. You never know, with the aid of the people you meet on your placement, you may be offered a role or advice on next steps that you can take to advance your career in the future.

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