The Big Picture
Connor works as a Consultant at Infinity Works based in Leeds and has been there for a year. He is currently working with one of their client companies, Anaplan, providing assistance and an expert opinion to manage their workload. Connor’s job is very software based with his tasks operating as a ticketing system whereby he receives a ticket with a task, such as to implement a new feature or test some new code, and then once completed, he gets another one.
“A lot of time we’re kind of encouraged to keep looking around for ways to maybe improve the way that we’re working or if you see a problem bring that up and mention it to Anaplan, the company, and just suggest ways they can improve.”
Part of Connor’s role involves ensuring that Anaplan knows what Infinity Works are doing to improve their systems, so that if the interaction between Infinity Works and Anaplan were to ever stop, Anaplan would be able to continue on with the work and know how to do it themselves.
The Application Process
Connor heard about his role from a careers fair at the University of York where he spoke to Anaplan about joining them through their academy. He applied with his CV and filled in a form with questions that he described as interesting, such as:
“If your grandparents contact you not knowing how to use a TV or something like that, what is your approach?”
After that, Connor attended an interview day and described everyone as being very friendly but he naturally, still felt nervous. There were a series of standard interview questions as well as technical questions, of which Connor felt a little out of his depth but made educated guesses and was encouraged to by the interviewer, and he then did a small presentation, a team task and a technical coding challenge; which he felt they all went well at the time.
“I’ve always really struggled with presentations…Most of the time, no matter how much experience I have, as soon as I am about to do one the nerves just gradually increase. I have kind of been lucky that sometimes when I start, I tend to just flow and work, I don’t feel too bad about it. But on odd occasions that doesn’t happen and I do start stumbling a bit but just having some practice and a bit of preparation has helped me get through that.”
Connor did several summer placements at the University of York, some coding and some not, and he said that regardless of whether they were relevant to coding, just being able to say that you’ve worked in multiple different teams and have experience in different environments with different people is very beneficial.
Receiving rejections when applying for multiple positions is inevitable and Connor was unfortunately unsuccessful in his applications to two other consulting companies as they had harder technical tests than he was prepared for with having no prior experience. Connor also applied for a PhD in Climate Science but recognises that he wasn’t prepared enough in the interview and so did not get the placement. By this point, however, he had already secured his role at Infinity Works, so the rejection from the PhD did not affect him too much.
“I was able to draw off other things to stay positive about.”
Connor did mock interviews within his department, sent his CV to multiple different people for review, and took on board a lot of advice from people who had been where he was before.
“Basically I kept saying to myself I know that if I don’t apply and don’t do everything I can then I’m not gonna be able to get anything no matter what, so it’s almost like automatic failure unless you just go for it anyway.”
Teamwork or Solo?
In Connor’s team, they do stand up every day to go over the work that’s in progress, discuss what they’ve been doing, and resolve any roadblocks anyone has encountered. The whole team is available to message on Slack to help with any questions Connor has and vice versa, and Infinity Works encourages pair programming.
“So one person’s picked up a task and is not quite sure how to do it or struggling or blocked and then say “can I pair with someone?” and then two of you work on the same problem so currently that’s kind of like, we have a video call and one person shares the screen and does it.”
In non-remote times, this would involve sitting at a desk together and working on one computer, and Connor finds this way of working very useful and time saving.
“It’s not very valuable to just sit here struggling not knowing what you’re doing for ages and then ask for help and then it gets solved in a minute when you could’ve just asked for the help earlier on and got it.”
The Physics Connection
Connor’s job requires him to have an in depth understanding of programming to be able to utilise several different programming languages with Java being his main focus. While at the University of York, Connor enjoyed coding and took a high performance coding module in his fourth year that required him to quickly learn FORTRAN and C++.
“My dissertation work was using python and things like that, so I definitely enjoyed all of that, yeah. That’s why the software roles were kind of my first port of call for jobs.”
When Connor was younger, he felt like he wanted to go into a software role but didn’t feel as though he could because he had no experience or knowledge of the field. After doing the module in fourth year and using code in his dissertation, Connor acknowledged that he is good at programming and enjoys it too.
The Next Step
“I could definitely see myself doing this long term.”
Connor thoroughly enjoys his position at Infinity Works but does still have the desire to do a PhD in the back of his mind. Being in a more programming centric environment has made him miss the field of physics, so doing a more physics based PhD could be somewhere in the future for Connor.
“I think I used to always get worried that my decisions were extremely important and like if I do this, that’s me forever, that defines me, and I’m starting to move away from that and understand that whatever decision I’ve made now, the work I’m in, I don’t have to do this until I’m retired.”