Our work experience week at ECS Digital 

Our work experience week at ECS Digital 

Introduction:

We are Nada and Polly, two students who spent a week on work experience at the ECS Digital London office.

We both heard about this wonderful work experience via our schools and thought that this would be a great opportunity to take part in. In the application process, we had to provide a CV as well as a cover letter. Working through those gave us experience in applying for jobs and adapting our applications to suit the role in question. Once we were successful with our application, we went through an interview process. The interview gave us some valuable practise to help us build up our confidence for the future.

 

What did you get up to?

Upon arrival, we were introduced to the team at ECS Digital and given a tour of the office. We were excited to start our week at ECS Digital and were looking forward to getting started on the project. We then got given a use case, based on a real-life example which a client may provide, and had to complete our project in three days.

The aim of the project was to write a Python program which ran all the SQL files in a given folder on a database in order to upgrade it. We had to make sure the database was upgraded to the latest version, and that we didn’t accidentally downgrade it, even if the folder contained SQL files for previous versions.

In addition to the main program, we had a few other tasks throughout the week. We were tasked with presenting our solution to different members of the ECS Digital team, and were able to meet lots of people to find out more about their roles within the organisation.

Part of our final solution:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who did you meet / get to work with?

 During our time at ECS Digital, we met many people. We had sessions with different individuals from different teams and were taken on ‘a day in the life’ with them.

Our first session on Tuesday was with Samer Naqvi and we explored the role of Women in Tech and how she partakes in talks and delivers them to people across the country. It was very informative to see how she encourages young women to see the digital industry as a viable career option.

Additionally, in the afternoon, we had a very interesting session with Eloisa Tovee (Ely) who works in the marketing team. She taught us how to market ourselves in the industry and also helped us to set up LinkedIn accounts. Now we have the opportunity to connect with different people who also have the same interests as we do.

Park Life

On our third day, Martina Srdoc delivered a session with us whilst walking through the park (the office is everywhere 😁), which was quite relaxing. At ECS Digital, she is an agile coach and also ‘the mother of the team’. This means that she looked after the wellbeing of all the staff.

Later on in the day we had a mid-week catch up with Kouros Aliabadi and received a broader understanding of his role as a delivery consultant. Amongst other things, Kouros goes to client sites and ensures that everyone is happy both within the clients’ and ECS Digital’s teams.

Making the Most from the Cloud 

Our last session of the week was with John Lawson. He works with ECS Consulting (part of the wider ECS group) and is a Senior Cloud Developer Consultant. He showed us how to programme with VS code and GitHub.

 

What thing(s) did you enjoy most?

The most enjoyable thing this week was the problem-solving aspect of it. When we got stuck on a problem, and had to think creatively to find a solution, it felt satisfying to get there, especially if we did this independently.

As well as that, the working environment in the office was fantastic. Everyone here was very welcoming, and we felt comfortable working here for the whole week. We’d both love to come back!

 

Thing(s) you found most challenging

When we started this project, we had no knowledge of using SQL with Python (or any other program). This was challenging because it meant that we had to research a lot and learn independently.

In addition, our program was run via a command line interface. Neither of us had used one before, so we got a lot of help from Emerson Hardisty (DevOps and Continuous Delivery Consultant at ECS Digital) to get our program working correctly and be able to receive command line inputs.

The journey from applying to presenting our use case has been massively inspiring and although we faced some challenges on the way, we were able to successfully overcome them and produce a script.

 

What did you learn?

Throughout the week, we developed a range of both technical as well as interpersonal skills. To complete the project successfully, we had to learn how to use MySQL in Python and create and modify databases. We also learnt how to connect to a database through Python, and how to connect to a command line interface.

Working as a team, we were able to develop our communication and problem-solving skills. Our day always started with a daily “stand up”, which involved us talking through what we did the previous day and our plans for the next day, allowing us to make the most of our time.

 

Would you do it again?

Absolutely! This week has really been fantastic, and we’ve learnt so much. Given this opportunity again, we would definitely take it.

We would both love to say a big thank you to everyone at ECS Digital and for making this week amazing and full of learning.  Special thanks to Jingen Ngo for being a great organiser, Emerson for helping us with all the technical issues and Lucia Gore for organising the applications and interviews.

 

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Internships & Work Experience at ECS Digital 

ECS Digital believe in giving people equal opportunities and are proud to open its doors to buddying tech enthusiasts looking for the chance to experience what working in the world of tech is really like. 

Due to the energy, care and attention that goes into making sure every work experience student gets the chance to get hands-on and immersed in our culture, we are only able to offer a handful of opportunities across the year – mostly featured during school holidays. 

If you’re interested in any future opportunities, please reach out to the team who will be happy to advise if we have any work experience placements coming up! (Be sure to hit ‘careers’ in the ‘enquiry type’ menu when you do).

 

Guest BlogOur work experience week at ECS Digital 
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Women of Silicon Roundabout: Key Takeaways

Women of Silicon Roundabout: Key Takeaways

This week, Women of Silicon Roundabout opened its doors to over 5,000 incredibly passionate, brilliant and career driven individuals looking to explore all things business – from gender diversity and inclusion, to pushing boundaries and inspirational anecdotes from the rather Marvellous Karren Brady OBE…

And ECS Digital were right in the middle of the buzz! 

Proud to be silver sponsors, we set up shop in the middle of the conference – close enough to the fro-yo but sensibly out of reach of the specially brewed ‘DevHops’ beer on the other side of the room. With tote bags in hand and the DevOps Playground Panda for extra company, the team did an incredible job talking about the unique DNA of ECS Digital and the incredible DevOps / QA culture we have helped create for our clients. 

What was particularly refreshing about this event – other than the vibrant spectacle of business fashion which you never quite seem to get at male-dominated events – was that it solely exists to inspire, up-skill and give individuals the confidence to go out and do great things. Every speaker was rightly celebrated, with rooms packed to resemble the recent Spice Girls gig and audience members cheering like wildings for their admired colleagues. Every talk spoke to either the head or heart, or both. And every person who came by our stand was an absolute pleasure to speak with.

How spectacular is that! In light of all that is currently in flux (Brexit, Gender Pay Gap, Positive Discrimination, the number of CEO’s named David…) this conference boldly pushed through the negative noise and created an event filled to the brim with positivity, determined to set a few things straight. Including giving the audience the knowledge they need to make more informed decisions.

With this in mind, we couldn’t pull together a summary of this great event without drawing attention to the incredible job Marie Cruz and Samer Naqvi did on delivering their own talk on Software Testing Trends in 2019. Both QA and Continuous Delivery Consultants at ECS Digital, their talk looked at delivering less yawn, more Elvis in software testing, focusing on the tools and technology that help create valuable solutions. Here’s a little sneak peek…

 

 

It was also a great opportunity for both to showcase their expertise. In the words of Marie, 

“Speaking at Women of Silicon Roundabout has given me the boost of confidence in my career and I wouldn’t have done it without the support of ECS Digital. Networking with a lot of respectable women in technology and listening to the other speakers talk about their experiences just means that the technology sector is empowering women and we all have a role to play”

Whilst there is a recording on Facebook already, we hope to release the event exclusive version of their talk our YouTube channel very soon.

With so many speaker sessions over the two days, we could only catch a handful of talks, so here’s our Women of Silicon Roundabout key takeaway iceberg – with the hope that others might add some quotes or titbits of what we may have missed. Enjoy! 

Eloisa ToveeWomen of Silicon Roundabout: Key Takeaways
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DevOps Playground: more than just another lecture

DevOps Playground: more than just another lecture

As the DevOps Playground enters its fourth year, we take the opportunity to look back at how the DPG was initially formed and its subsequent success.

Why ECS Digital started the DevOps Playground:

Meetups are a great way to meet like-minded people, learn something new and eat as much pizza as is humanly possible. Technology focused meetups however, often leave one excited and hopeful about a new product or technology with no easy way to explore them. Couple that with our busy lives and these new technologies will only ever be added to the long list of “Tools I will definitely try one day soon!”

As a result, we at ECS Digital decided that we could satisfy the tech industry insatiable desire for pizza as well as allowing people to really experience new tooling without impacting their ever-shrinking social calendars.

In addition to showcasing new technologies and allowing people to get hands-on experience with those tools, the DevOps Playground acts as a platform for ECS Digital’s own talent to build a name for themselves and demonstrate the breadth and depth of knowledge ECS Digital wield within a number of different technology areas.

Attendees can expect to follow along with a structured and comprehensive exercise, designed to jumpstart new users with unfamiliar technologies and to highlight the best ways to use the technology going forward.

 

What happens at a DevOps Playground?

Each month, you are welcome to join us as we explore new technology / tools in one of our four locations – London, Singapore, Pune and Edinburgh. Each Playground lasts for around 2.5 hours, with a chunk of that time set aside for you to run and use the chosen tech / tools on your own laptop.

Our engineers will be on hand throughout the Playground to help you navigate your way round the technology, with the hope that you leave feeling more confident than you did when you arrived. Open to all tech enthusiasts, this is the perfect environment to learn, network and play – and there’s usually free pizza. Pizza AND tech, what’s not to love!

How the Playground has evolved:

Our environments:

With the success of the Playground’s brand and the ever-increasing number of global members, we have had to innovate in order to keep up with demand. During the Playground infancy, the standard method for distributing slide decks, resources and the all-important technology environment was a chucky VDI. Due to its size, we would have to load them onto 8GB USB sticks and physically hand them to attendees on the door. This obviously meant that we would spend the first 15-20 minutes of every meetup waiting for people to copy massive files on to their personal computers and then load up VMs, and that was before we had even started the technical part of the evening.

Realising that this method of distribution was not going to scale, we had to look internally to our engineers for a solution that could be used by a wide variety of capabilities.

In true DevOps fashion, after a few iterations we settled on a dynamic cloud instance for every attendee with a web-based terminal (wetty). This allows us to spin up exactly the number of instances required for an individual event and bring them down once the event has concluded, reducing not only the cost but the potential risk associated with having 80 cloud instances running publicly.

As the success of our London based meetup continues to grow from strength to strength, back in 2018 we took the DevOps playground brand global, setting up three additional meetup events in Singapore, Pune and Edinburgh. This new global reach has help us spread the ECS Digital message and introduce new technologies and concepts to even more people.

A powerful recruiting tool:

The DevOps Playground has been a strategic tool used during our recruitment process, with many candidates being identified and subsequently hired as a direct result of them attending our events. These new additions have been afforded the opportunity to meet the ECS Digital team in a relaxed setting and with no obligations and in fact, with most cases, individuals were not actively seeking new employment opportunities.

What the future looks like:

World domination! Maybe not… but we do want to continue building our reach and contributing to the wider DevOps community. Due to the popularity of our London events, our current location is hitting capacity on a regular basis. We’d love to work with other tech enthusiasts who have access to bigger spaces so we can open the Playgrounds up to more of our community. If you happen to have a large space and want to support the DevOps Playground by letting us borrow it for an evening, we’d love to hear from you!

We would also love the opportunity to collaborate with other meetup groups. If you have an idea of how we can better serve our communities, get in touch and let’s talk over how we can turn those ideas into value for our members.

And last but certainly not least, technology is genderless and we want to continue promoting its application to as diverse a group as possible – starting with hosting more Women In Tech DevOps Playgrounds following the success of our WIT event last year. Whilst men are welcome to attend, these events are super important for creating an environment where women feel comfortable learning about new technology in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry.

How to get involved:

As mentioned above, we host our DevOps Playgrounds once a month in four locations. These are all publicised on Meetup as soon as the team have the details available:

You can also find all the information you need about DevOps Playground, upcoming events, past events and the Playground Panda on our website: https://devopsplayground.co.uk

What next?

Hopefully the above has tempted you to come and say hello to the DevOps Playground team in person! Our next events are live on the website / meetup groups (links above) so pick the one most local to you, grab your laptop and follow the smell of pizza. Go on, you’ve got nothing to lose but maybe lots to gain!

Morgan AtkinsDevOps Playground: more than just another lecture
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Digital Women in Tech – DevOps Playground: Hands on with Cypress

Digital Women in Tech – DevOps Playground: Hands on with Cypress

As part of ECS Digital’s initiative to attract more women in technology, we held our first ever Digital Women in Tech MeetUp in our London office at Bermondsey Street where we did a hands on session about a new automation testing tool called Cypress.

Cypress is a test automation tool created by Brian Mann to help developers write automation tests from a user’s perspective. With Cypress, any actions that users can do can be simulated such as clicking a button, typing values on forms, or selecting checkboxes. It’s a tool that is written purely in JavaScript and is often compared to Selenium but it’s actually different from Selenium. The tool was created to address the issues that developers faced when writing automated tests.

In this hands on session, we went over what Cypress can offer, it’s limitations and key differences with Selenium. We then guided everyone how to connect to their remote machines and how to launch the sample React application that we were going to test. The machines provided have been pre-installed with all the software that they needed to follow the session. Once everyone was familiarised with using Cypress and its test runner, we guided everyone on how to write the test scenarios that we planned for them.

Following this video you should be able to run through this playground from the comfort of your own home.

Thank you to everyone who attended the first Digital Women in Tech MeetUp and for making it successful!

Interested in attending our next DevOps Playground events. Follow us on Meetup to receive a notification about the next event

Marie CruzDigital Women in Tech – DevOps Playground: Hands on with Cypress
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Xin’s Story as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant

Xin’s Story as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant

My name is Xin Wang, I am a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant as ECS Digital. I recently published a blog explaining how I went from delivering presentations on Fashion Week 2017 fashion trends, to writing functional tests as a software developer engineer.

Working in a male dominated industry has been very different to what I was used to – the approaches that some male engineers take are sometimes very different to the approach that a female would take. But these perspectives combined give you a much valuable overview which is why I really enjoy working on coding challenges with my colleagues.

Take a look at my video if you are interested in understanding why I switched my career around and how I am continuing with my journey as a software developer engineer.

Xin WangXin’s Story as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant
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Day In the life as a Technical Test Engineer

Day In the life as a Technical Test Engineer

Hi there, my name is Marie Cruz, and I’m a Senior Technical Test Engineer at ECS Digital. I’m responsible for providing test services to various clients with the focus of implementing BDD processes. I recently published a blog explaining how I balance being a mother and a woman in technology.

Having a family and an active career in tech, people tend to ask me how I manage to keep up with both. My answer is making sure you understand what’s important, but also ensuring that you are happy with the choices that you are making.

If you’ve ever wondered how a female can handle both a career in tech and a family life, feel free to take a look at my “Day in the Life as a Test Engineer” video. I hope it inspires you to take the leap into technology too!

Marie CruzDay In the life as a Technical Test Engineer
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On being a mum and a woman in tech

On being a mum and a woman in tech

Like most people, I had a five-year plan after I graduated from university. Get a nice job and work for a great company, get married, start a family and buy a house. Fast forward five years and here I am, attempting to write a blog about how I balance being a mother and a woman in technology while listening to my daughter having a tantrum!

Being a first-time mum, I struggled a bit in the beginning after my maternity leave to get used to the idea of working again. I felt like I had forgotten how to code. Not to mention that I was given the responsibility of a Test Architect role in the client site that I am based at. I had to get myself familiar with new tools that I haven’t used before and somehow, I had to lead the team. It was daunting!

At the same time, I was worrying about my daughter all the time. It was hard to focus at work and it definitely wasn’t the best start (let’s just say that my stress hormones were up to the roofs!). But somehow, I managed to get it to work in the end. It wasn’t easy and there were still some sleepless nights (teething is still a nightmare!) but I’m going to list the things that helped me balance my work and my responsibilities as a mum.

  1. Share the responsibility

This I feel is the most important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and share the responsibility. You won’t be able to do everything by yourself! My husband is very hands-on with our daughter so during his days off, he looks after her. Ask families and friends to help out too. We’re lucky that my mother-in-law helps look after my daughter when my husband and I are both at work. There are also times when my parents pick up my daughter from work, so they can look after her. We pre-plan our schedule and check everyone’s availability so we know who will look after our daughter on what day.

  1. Flexible working is the way forward

If you can work from home or do flexible hours, ask for it. From time to time, I work from home if there is no available babysitter that day or if I need to take my daughter to hospital.

  1. Avoid working outside hours

You might be tempted to bring some of the work home with you if you have tight deadlines but try to avoid doing this if possible. I used to bring work home with me to finish off some tasks, check slack messages and reply to emails but this meant that even when I’m home, I’m still thinking about work rather than just spending quality time with my daughter. This just made me more stressed in the end so if I do have deadlines, I try to be more focused at work and time box my tasks. If it’s something that your colleagues can definitely help, share the responsibility. Again, you can’t do everything by yourself 🙂

  1. Stop overthinking about your children

It’s natural that we tend to worry about our little ones. I used to worry a lot about my daughter at work and text my husband or my mother-in-law to see how she was doing, if she’s eaten or drank her milk, if she’s had her nap, if she’s crying, etc. and I always get the same answers – that she is doing ok. Rather than spending time worrying about things I couldn’t change, I now use that time to be focused at work so I can get home sooner and answer these questions myself

  1. Find time to learn

Now this might be difficult for some of you but if you can, still find time to learn something new every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s just for an hour or 30 minutes. Especially in the tech industry, there are always new tools coming up. So, once my daughter is asleep, I make a habit to read a book, read tech blogs, or do a little bit of coding.

  1. Find a company that appreciates you

I feel that this is as important as the first point. If you work for a company that micromanages and doesn’t give you room to improve, then this might be a red flag. It’s great that I work for a company that is appreciative of what I do and rewards those who have done a great job. Recently, I was nominated for an Outstanding People Award and it has given me a great boost to continue doing what it is I’m doing – I must be doing something right after all!

Achieving a work-life balance, especially if you are a mum, is a challenge, but it is doable. It was difficult at the beginning, but like everything else, it gets easier 🙂

Join our Women In Tech DevOps Playground on 8th November where we will be getting hands-on with Cypress!

Follow other stories from the ECS Digital team here.

Marie CruzOn being a mum and a woman in tech
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