YNAP Tech Grad Scheme – Chris, Class of 2014

A student fresh out of university is keen to learn, keen to impress, and eager to mould themselves into a pioneer of their industry. The problem I faced was narrowing down exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to do it. That’s the biggest benefit of the NET-A-PORTER graduate scheme – it figured it out for me.

When I left University I knew I wanted to be a software engineer and create apps of all shapes, tastes and sizes. However, with software development being such a broad field, it can be a bit difficult to narrow down what you really like and what you don’t – the wild variation of languages, aspects, and environment also doesn’t help. All of these things can affect your career drastically, but NET-A-PORTER’s Graduate Technology programme has helped me choose the path I want to take. The rotational structure and try-before-you-buy flexibility of the scheme is an invaluable asset that helps you decide your future by actively sampling all of the options alongside some extremely talented people.

I’ve rotated all over the company during my time on the scheme

I began the programme in September 2014 by working in the Warehouse Automation team, using languages like Perl and JavaScript to develop the software used to process orders through our warehouse in America. I learnt best practices regarding how to structure code in an MVC web application, dependency management, and even managed a release of new features within my first two months. I used approaches such as TDD (Test-Driven Development) heavily during my first few months, writing automated tests in Ruby, and I was given a project to work on with a fellow grad a few weeks later. Within three months, we had created an in-house staff order management system for the entire company to use.

Next, I bounced over to MRPORTER’s tech team in March 2015, where I had the opportunity to sample iOS development, Java Spring, Scala, Node.js and front-end styling work. Over the next six months I learnt how to properly style responsive designs using SASS, how to write functional JavaScript, how to architect a Java application being used by millions of people, and how to write iOS applications – a skill massively sought after in the current workforce (and something I now do in my spare time, thanks to the techniques I picked up)!

Working in a brand team is a massive change of pace compared to a backend focused team like the warehouse – things like look-and-feel and user experience take precedence, as opposed to the purely function-based focus in the backend. Getting to grips with the massive change in tech was challenging but welcome – I had thrown out Perl for JavaScript, SASS and Node.js.

September took me to The NetSet – NET-A-PORTER’s very own social network – where I worked, alongside an ex-graduate and with skilled developers, to create new features for their Scala/iOS based app, as well as creating a rich, responsive React.js product and content viewer. We had full reign over the implementation and deployed it one month after work had begun!

As a junior developer, it’s an incredible feeling to see something you’ve worked on released out in the wild, and being used by thousands of people on a daily basis

I actually requested to work on The NetSet for my final rotation due to the architecture and tech being used – the scheme lets you choose where you want to go, provided the support and space is available (and it usually is!).

The Graduate scheme provides the flexibility to let you choose where you’d like to end up after you’ve had your fill. So, After The NetSet project went live, I decided to permanently settle down in THE OUTNET tech team as a full-stack developer. I based the decision on the experience and insights I had picked up over the preceding 12 months, rotating around the different teams within the company, and the advice given by my mentors. I knew I wanted to work in a brand team, THE OUTNET use technology I am passionate about, and they had some really interesting projects in the pipeline.

Since joining THE OUTNET in November I’ve fixed live bugs, worked on in-house tools, and am currently redesigning and implementing the header for the entire site. It’s a massive challenge but one I’m happy to tackle when the end result is so rewarding.

The scheme also massively rewards personal growth

Since starting, I’ve taken the skills I’ve picked up on the job and created my own applications in my spare time – I regularly work on my own Node.js, front-end and iOS projects. Without the tutelage of the developers in the company, and the challenging tasks I’ve been put through, I wouldn’t have had the ability, or even the confidence, to work so independently – something I’m very thankful for.

It’s been a little over 17 months since joining the company. I’ve worked on some very interesting projects alongside teams I’ve loved working in. I’m now settled in a team I chose myself that’s pushing the boundaries of tech every day in a company I love working for. Had I jumped straight into a full time role after University, I may never have had the chance to sample all the tools and skills I’ve been able to here, and I’d likely still be wondering if I made the right choice.

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