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Friday 9th June 2017
Tags: guest blog
Have you ever wondered what it's like to work for a globally recognised "Tech Unicorn"? Fortunately, we've had the chance to talk to Michael, a Software Developer for one of Silicon Valley's greatest exports with a IT team based in our very own Yorkshire. Read about Michael's journey below...

What is your tech background prior to

I did a Master's degree in Electronic Engineering and in first year we were taught C and in the third year a Java group project

During my summer placement I learnt C++ and wrote a program to simulate a microwave filter that made use of a genetic algorithm to tweak various parameters that define a Microwave filter such that its response matched a desired frequency characteristics.

In the final year, I undertook a module to revisit C and write an operating system from scratch for an ARM Cortex M series Microcontroller

In my final year project I learnt HTML5, Javascript and CSS to create an interactive web application used to promote Electronic Engineering to prospecting students.

I completed a year in industry working for a company that specialised in high-reliability electronic solutions.

I spent about half my time there working on a Windows Form Application written in C# which was used to aid in the testing of hardware we manufactured.

I briefly spent time writing low level code (Assembly) for a test bench that made use of a Microchip Microcontroller.

Program Plus
Between University and FinancialForce I spent around 6 months studying more intermediate/advanced aspects of the C# language as well as WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) and used these to create a game for the Windows app store.

What interested you about exploring a role with

-The office was way cooler than any other workplace I’d visited.

-Being a nerd I’ve always liked the idea of working for a Silicon Valley-esque start-up company and FinancialForce was exactly that right on my doorstep!

-People and the culture

-The free vending machine was hard to resist

-I was pretty excited at the prospect of being given a brand new MacBook pro on my first day

What have been the benefits?
Met some great people, learnt a tonne about the world of Software Development, way more than I learnt at University. FF also welcomes the opportunity to spend company time to learn about new technologies and generally better yourself.

What concerns did you have changing tech stacks?
-Personally I embrace any opportunity to learn something new. Saying that I believe anyone with knowledge of the Java/Oracle or ASP.NET ecosystem won’t have too much to learn to get up to speed.

-My experience with other tech stacks is somewhat limited.

What do you enjoy about working with Apex/ Visualforce?

The fact it’s in the cloud is pretty awesome, your code isn’t bound to your machine, if you want somebody to see your app, you don’t need to visit them in person or have them install something. They can just check it out, from pretty much anywhere, with immediate effect.

I don’t think I’m particularly any more passionate about Apex compared to Java/C#,
Once our data comes through to the client we have just as much freedom as any webapp. ExtJS, although a bit of a learning curve, is actually a great framework and allows you to just get stuff done quickly.

How have your technical skills improved by changing tech stack?
Well I don’t believe they could have diminished, I imagine I’m probably not as hot with C#/.NET as I used to be, but I’ve definitely improved a lot in general.

However, since Apex is essentially a more restricted version of Java/C# there are some language features that are missing such as Generics and Delegates. Despite that, the cloud environment extends my skills in other ways that compensate.

How have you personally progressed since joining
I was promoted from Junior to Mid-level quickly, it was nice that my promotion wasn’t a time based thing, but rather that my skill level was noticed and it happened when I deserved it.

The next step would be a senior level, which does (and should) take time to achieve.

What do you enjoy most about working here?
The culture, without a doubt. It’s not toxic at all, management trust you to do your job. I have personally never felt too pressured to reach a particular deadline, any pressure has been healthy and motivating, as opposed to stress inducing.

What would you say to any developer considering and who is concerned about changing tech stacks?
I can empathise with the speed difference, we developers do love our performance. But I think the way the field is heading having our code in the cloud is probably going to become the norm, so why not jump on that bandwagon early?
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