Joining a graduate technology scheme at YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP has been one of the highest-returning career investments I made since earning a degree in computer science. In my view, the scheme represents an exceptional opportunity to strengthen learning muscles developed at university while solving real world problems and sharing solutions with millions of customers.
One important aspect of the scheme is the rate at which our graduates develop their technical skills, knowledge of the domain and confidence.
For example, in just 12 months I transitioned from a highly dependent learner into a confident member of the team; learning, contributing and helping to move the team forward. I remember the feeling of pride and excitement as my first styling change to MRPORTER.COM appeared on the live site, even though it was a very small change. A few months down the line, I designed and implemented much more complex features, taking full ownership of each stage through their lifecycle. I now aim to commit code to production on a daily basis and take responsibility for the code I write.
So, what does Graduate Technology programme at the YNAP look like?
The programme offers 18 months of opportunities for learning and professional growth. It is organised into three rotations within different technology teams, including frontend and backend teams.
The scheme is flexible and offers a range of opportunities to try out different technologies and work on various projects. The ‘try out’ part here is very important – the focus of the scheme is on your learning. Whilst you are considered a valued member of the team from day one, the only expectation set at the start is for you to be involved and willing to learn. You decide how much responsibility to take on and when. Even better, you decide when to leave a project and start a new one.
I see an immense value in the opportunity to drive my own development and join projects that I find interesting. I suspect such level of freedom will be harder to achieve in the grown-up world of permanent employment.
However, being technical in nature, the programme does assume that the skills you acquire in the course of learning will contribute to making you a great developer in the long run. Although I wore a UX hat for one month analysing user research for MRPORTER.COM, for the remaining 11 months I remained busy writing code, styling web pages and learning concepts such as XP, TDD and SOA with a hands-on approach. And even though my UX rotation wasn’t technical, it helped me understand the needs of our customers better. Ideally customer needs inform all technical decisions.
In addition to the freedom of choice, you will be given plenty of peer support whatever your level of expertise in any particular field. As well as having a rotation manager to guide and help you manage your learning, you will have a dedicated mentor on each of the teams to take you through the daily challenges. You will also get your own ‘grad buddy’ — a previous graduate engineer — in case you want to talk to someone who has been in your shoes not so long ago. And if you are feeling confident and want to own a piece of work, there is always plenty of work for you to own.
In summary, the challenge is here for you to embrace. There is a always a chance you will be thrown into a deep end, which I personally find exciting and great for learning, but, if going solo is not your style – don’t panic and re-read the first paragraph!
There are plenty of other benefits in joining the Graduate scheme, here are my top 5:
- YNAP Invest in Good People – Looking for a role model is never hard, and there are many brilliant people to learn from
- Learning Opportunities – Having mentioned it previously, I would only reiterate that there are plenty of opportunities to work on different projects both during the graduate scheme and afterwards
- Culture – YNAP is a hub of intelligent, driven, open-minded and very friendly people
- Location and Beautiful Offices – This is a place where you can work comfortably and relax in style
- Staff Discount – Buying beautiful clothes raises my productivity, but is a rather subjective point!
By the end of the scheme, you will most likely have an idea of which discipline you want to specialise in. Ideally, you would have spent some time working in the area of your choice during the scheme; in that case you can apply for a role in a team of talented developers here at the YNAP, where you will work together to keep the world smart and stylish.