First week on the Guardian’s Digital Fellowship
The experience of a junior developer
What is the Guardian’s Digital Fellowship?
The fellowship is for budding software engineers who are looking for an entry level position. It’s open to people who have taught themselves how to code, have done a bootcamp or have any other route into tech.
It’s a competitive scheme and not surprisingly given so few companies offer such high quality programmes. Successful candidates do a minimum of two rotations in different engineering teams over a one year period.
Their main goal is to learn as much as possible and they are given a designated mentor and lots of support to ensure this.
My first week
I was told a couple of weeks before I started that I would be on the Android team.
I have not coded in Kotlin or Java and have never even owned an Android phone 😂 so I really am learning everything as a complete beginner!
My mentor and whole team have been incredibly welcoming and helpful in my first week. Everyone has paired with me and made me feel right at home. I’m able to ask all my questions without feelings of judgement or fear!
After spending a year teaching myself Ruby with very little time and with only the amazing kindness of willing engineers, it now suddenly feels like the greatest privilege to have a whole team of professional developers willing to help me and a 40-hour week!
I expressed these feelings with my mentor and we decided to share our learnings with the wider community so that hopefully other people can benefit from my experience. We recorded our first YouTube video.
What I’ve learnt
I’ve admired the way my team treat one another when discussing tricky problems. I don’t see any blame culture whatsoever and there’s such a positive camaraderie in every meeting.
Across the department there seems to be a culture of openness and willing to discuss all issues in a non-hierarchical way.
There seem to be some challenges too. At times poor communication between senior management and other staff and of course the Guardian’s challenge to achieve sustainability, but no company is without challenges.
I really value the kindness of everyone I have met. I also really like the flexible working options, which suit me as a parent. I feel that people in the team recognise the importance of our lives outside of work.
How about non coding activities?
This week I attended Morning Conference, which is where the Guardian’s journalists discuss the results from yesterday’s articles and the news today. Anyone at the Guardian can attend. I really enjoyed listening to the journalists speaking about their views and it reminded me why we as engineers are here.
I attended the Digital team’s Diversity group, which was great because I got to meet some more engineers in different teams and made new friends. I also found out about interesting diversity initiatives going on, including a bake sale for Black History Month led by one of the previous fellows!
I had two restaurant lunches during the week! One with the apps team and another with the fellows alumni.
I got invited to join the Guardian’s Women’s group and also a People of Colour group, both of which are open to everyone at the Guardian. I’m looking forward to meeting with other people in these groups from across the organisation.
I can’t help feeling that I couldn’t be in a better environment to learn how to become an engineer. I’m so grateful that the Guardian offer a fellowship programme and I hope that other companies can do the same too.