Name: Max Wilson-Hebben
Office location: Cambridge UPH
In this Employee Spotlight, Max tells us what it has been like to do his Year in Industry placement at StarLeaf.
Why did you choose StarLeaf to complete your Year in Industry?
I wanted to apply to the University of Cambridge and I was interested in programming and computing. The organisation that I applied through (YINI) sent me an email regarding StarLeaf outlining what they do and asked if I wanted to apply. Being a video conferencing company I knew that there would be a lot of interesting computing work to be done and it was an area that I had not looked at before so thought it might interest me.
My interview was a very positive experience and I found everyone I met very friendly and interested in the work that they were doing. Once I returned home after my interview I was really excited about the company and I wanted to complete my year in industry at StarLeaf.
What exciting projects have you worked on at StarLeaf so far?
We were told to test a USB extender to see if it was more reliable than the previous one that was recommended to customers. This involved talking to hardware engineers about the best way to test the device to maximize the power consumption and data transfer of the device. The way in which we did this was left down to us which meant we had to problem-solve to find the best ways to test the device and find any future issues a customer may have with it.
Another exciting project has been working on the automated test framework. We’ve been allowed to work on this quite a lot of the time when we do not have manual testing to do. The most rewarding part about this is that as we work on the framework and more tests become automated, it means that less manual testing has to be done. It is exciting to see something that you previously tested manually being completed by the computer automatically and much faster.
What are your most memorable and enjoyable experiences of working at StarLeaf so far?
We went to ISE exhibition in Amsterdam for a day which was exciting. We’d been working for quite a few months with StarLeaf products, but I hadn’t really been given the chance to see the competitors' products and how they differed to ours. This was a great experience for this because all of our main competitors were there showing off their new products as well as resellers and companies whose products StarLeaf recommend to customers. This allowed me to see just how big and competitive the video conferencing market is as well as looking at all the other industries that had stands at the event.
Onboarding was also a very exciting experience. We went to the Watford office and had talks over three days to tell us about different parts of the company. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this was that we were able to meet new people working at the company from across the world and I was able to ask people about their experiences of working in companies as StarLeaf was my first. Going out for dinner every night over the three days was just a bonus.
What does a day in the life of a YINI look like?
Once I’ve arrived at work I usually check my emails and StarLeaf messages to see if I have any messages regarding software bugs and new build releases that I need to test. If there are any HR or related tasks I need to complete then I do those too if I can. After this, if there is a build we need to be testing I start running my automated tests and for those tests that aren’t automated, I manually complete the test on the endpoints to check that there are no new bugs. After this is done I complete bug verification which involves looking at new features and bugs that were fixed in the new build and testing them thoroughly to make sure that they are working well and there are no new bugs.
If, on the other hand, there is no new build to test I usually start working on the automated tests. This involves looking at the tests that we complete manually and deciding what would be the best way to automate them. Then once I’ve decided on a test to work on I plan out how I’m going to automate each test step and then start programming the test. The most satisfying part of this is when I can watch something run automatically which usually would take me quite a long time to do manually.
What skills have you developed so far during your Year in Industry with StarLeaf?
I have developed many skills at StarLeaf. One of the most important I think is adapting to a new company. When I first came to StarLeaf I was quite nervous and it took me a while to settle in but after being at such a welcoming company as StarLeaf I think that I could settle into a new company much faster in the future. I’ve also developed my skills in programming and computing this year and specifically the ability to read others code more efficiently. Working closely with the other year in industry students and the other developers in our team, I’ve also built on my ability to work and solve problems as part of a team.
Would you recommend StarLeaf for students looking to complete a Year in Industry before university?
Yes, I would definitely recommend StarLeaf for students completing a year in Industry. As a company, StarLeaf has exceeded my expectations massively and it is a very comfortable and enjoyable place to work. It is much more relaxed than I thought it would be which makes you enjoy the work you are doing much more and want to help the company succeed. Also, the people are very friendly, helpful and intelligent which means there is always someone who can help you with something you are working on if you are unsure.
Furthermore, when working at StarLeaf close to the developers for a year, you begin to see what traits are needed to become a successful developer and how the skills that you have learned can be applied to real situations. I think this is very important as it means that going on to university after this, I’ll constantly be thinking about how the new skills I’m learning could be used in a development environment. I think this will give me a much better standing as a developer when I finish university.
What aspects of your role are you passionate about?
I really enjoy programming the automated tests and building up a good testing setup. This is essential because once the development process is finished, we have to make sure we have thorough ways to test the software and endpoints so that customers do not find many bugs when it is released to them. Also trying to decide what to automate next and how to do it can be challenging at times and it is the challenge and problem solving that I enjoy most.
Which university will you be going to and which course will you be studying?
I’m planning to go to the University of St Andrews to study Computer Science.