Charlie Dowler on being an Apprentice at Hindsight Software


Charlie Dowler is an apprentice at Hindsight Software. He joined the company in May 2013 and primarily works on Frontend Development, User Interface development and more recently learning server side code

Q. Why did you apply for this apprenticeship?

A. I applied for an apprenticeship to gain experience in real life working environments. I think that Colleges & Schools lack knowledge of how the world works, therefore when students leave education they will get a big shock.

I chose an apprenticeship over college because I found college boring and uninteresting. We were not being taught anything that I could transfer over to my job. So, I decided to leave college and instead start an apprenticeship learning to write software. I'm not an academic person and I hated being in school, so getting a job was a no-brainer for me.

I've chosen not to go to university because I think I'll get bored of it the same way I became bored of college and school. It is also very expensive for things that I can teach myself.

I chose to go with Hindsight because of the cutting edge technology we work with. As we are a small team we can change the tech we use when needed without the need for permission from the power above. It's awesome because there are always new things to learn.

Q. What do you think Hindsight want from an apprentice?

A. Hindsight wants an apprentice who is willing to learn and be motivated for launching great software to our awesome customers.

Q. Apprenticeships usually mean working full time alongside studying for a qualification. How do you manage?

A. I started at Hindsight working 2 days a week with the remainder of the time studying at college, then after a month or two I moved up to 3 days a week. I no longer attend College, but I am still enrolled. Every few months a tutor comes and assess my work at Hindsight for my apprenticeship qualification.

Q. What skills have you learnt since starting at Hindsight?

A. Communicating with customers, writing server/client side software & following design/testing patterns to write efficient and reusable code.

We deal with customers on a day to to day basis. I personally don't deal with many customers unless they've found a bug or interface problem that I can help with. We have awesome customers, so there is never any hassle when helping them out. We get the occasional call about a serious problem that is blocking the customer, which can cause them some grief. I try and stay calm and get all the details before helping, so I can be as efficient and helpful as possible.

Q. What do you find challenging about the work you do as an apprentice?

A. Working with undocumented third party code is the most annoying thing. The most difficult situation is a bug we can't reproduce in our environments, it requires real detective work.

Q. How is your working day organised?

A. We work independently on tasks most of the time, we often just assign ourselves tasks from the Jira agile board. We also work together as a team even when we all have different features we are working on, relaying ideas off of each other, planning new features and bug fixes.

Q. Do you find being an apprentice stressful?

A. Generally we avoid pressure in everyday work, but when a customer reports a bug we have to make sure it is either resolved or the customer is notified straight away that we are working on it. We tend not to give them any in depth technical explanations because they are interested in the solution, not the problem.

Q. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

A. Running my own startup or CEO of Hindsight!

Q. What do you like about working at Hindsight?

A. I like being at the cutting edge of tech and at Hindsight we often experiment with new technologies to give the customer the best user experience. As we are a small company, we can change things whenever we see fit and have nobody to answer to (except Alan aka the boss!). Last fall we went on a company trip to San Francisco to attend Atlassian Summit, it was a great experience and I would love to go again!

Q. Is there anything else you would like to tell me about being an apprentice?

A. Being an apprentice is great, you are treated the same as everybody else and get the same opportunities as everybody else.

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