Joanne Nock              

Office location: Shelford, Cambridge

Job title: Software Engineer Intern

Some background about you...

I completed my pre-university Year In Industry (YINI) placement with StarLeaf between 2017 and 2018. It was my first introduction to programming and the technology industry, and I learnt so much during that year and was so impressed with StarLeaf’s company culture I decided to reapply for a summer internship after my first year at Warwick University. Having worked largely in test during my YINI, I was excited to have the opportunity to see such a familiar company from the different perspective of working with the software team.

Life as an Intern...

For my internship project, I was assigned the task of streamlining and upgrading the StarLeaf software release and documentation process by building a tool which automates a number of administrative tasks which were previously manual processes and time-consuming for the developers. It was really exciting to be working on a tool amongst a team of people that would ultimately be using that tool themselves, so I could ask them questions about how I could make it optimally useful to them and could gather constant feedback about its performance. I had lots of support from my team and mentor when I needed it, but it was exciting to be largely working on my tool independently since I had a lot of creative freedom over my design choices and how best to optimize my code.

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to attend two summer parties over my time at StarLeaf, and both were certainly highlights. The summer party is an annual event hosted at the CEO’s house, and it brings together the employees from the London and Cambridge offices to celebrate the growth of the company. It’s a really fun day, and it’s always great to see friends from the London office, such as the other returning YINI students.

The social aspect of working at StarLeaf is particularly enjoyable. There is a free lunch outing or food truck every Wednesday, frequent BBQs to celebrate company events, and plenty of pub trips after work on Fridays.

My skills in software development and programming, in Python, in particular, have improved significantly over the course of my internship with StarLeaf. I’ve also had the chance to work on some web development as part of my project’s UI, thus widening my skillset. Above simply improving my programming skills, having near full control over my project helped me to develop skills in project management, organisation, time management and version control. I needed to have a good idea of how to decompose the product I intended to have completed at the end of my internship into manageable sections, and have a time-controlled plan of when these should be complete in order to achieve my goal.

On top of this, since my code is likely to be absorbed into the company’s processes and further developed by others in the company, I developed a good awareness of good coding practices in professional software engineering. I strived to ensure my code was well modularised, scalable, separated into intuitive and easily edited files, and well documented, to make it easy for other developers to use my programs and to fix any bugs should they arise. 

I would definitely recommend StarLeaf for an internship! The StarLeaf workplace achieves a great balance of being a really fun and chilled-out place to work, whilst you get to work on some challenging and interesting projects and to develop your skills amongst a group of really talented engineers. They also offer some great perks and a really supportive environment to develop your skills.