After leaving the comfort zone of Assurity’s four-week Graduate Programme, it was a little daunting stepping into the real world. Having spent only two weeks as a tester before being lined up with some work as a junior BA, I felt a little underprepared but also excited to grasp the opportunity that had come my way.
The amount of information I’ve absorbed and the new skills I’ve started to develop over the past six months blow my mind a little. So here’s a few tips and realisations for anyone thinking about Assurity’s Graduate Programme or starting a similar journey.
I heard it time and time again, but it's still one of the best pieces of advice when starting out – don’t be afraid to ask questions. No question is a dumb question. When you first arrive on a client site, you will be a little overwhelmed walking into a job you probably know very little about. But you can use this to your advantage. Question everything. It will make the business question itself and why it does things that way. People don’t expect you to know everything and will always be happy to answer any questions you have.
It’s also important to remember that people's time is precious. A question is always well received if you have done the work behind it.
- Know your stakeholder and how they like to be approached
- Have you attempted to work it out yourself?
- Can you ask them more than one question at once rather than continuing to go back and fore?
Voice your interests
Make sure you voice your interests. Assurity gets to know their people well and makes an effort to align your goals with the work they give you. They listen to your strengths and weaknesses and want to help you develop your career and point you in the right direction.
Throughout my interview process, I made it clear where my interests lie and the direction I wanted to take and it’s certainly been listened to and taken into account.
Variety reaps rewards
The nature of consulting means you get to learn about and do things you would never have imagined yourself doing. Working at different client sites gives you the opportunity to learn so much in a field of work completely different to that which you trained in. The best part is that you then get the opportunity to do something completely different at your next client site.
We all make a difference
Experienced people aren’t the only ones who make a difference. As clichéd as it sounds, you do too. Working in the software development industry – whether as a tester, BA or Agilist – you influence the quality of software that people might use daily, whether it’s a bug you picked up on or a user you consulted while gathering requirements. What seems like a little thing at the time can have a massive impact on the overall experience a user has.
Learn from the best in the business
You get to work with really great people. Coming in as a fresh-faced grad, you have a lot of support around you. You get to learn from some of the best in the business – not only within Assurity, but also at different client sites. You’re exposed to so many different techniques and approaches on a daily basis and you’re in a safe environment to try new things. Proactively learning and seeking feedback as often as you can from your support network gives you the opportunity to improve rapidly.
It’s all in the mind-set
Although things can feel unnerving and daunting at the beginning, keep an open mind and a positive mind-set and you’ll soon start to see everything come together. Sometimes you’re thrown into doing something you have absolutely no idea about and your initial thought is “This wasn’t in my degree”. And that's the point. Your degree is only a ticket to the game and doesn't prepare you for the actual match. Make sure you get involved in everything you can. Don’t be afraid to show the work you’ve done, embrace the feedback from colleagues, take it on the chin and use it to your advantage.