Now that the deadlines are starting to pile up I am able to see how my habits as a student have changed since I left for Spain in July 2008. The drive and motivation to work throughout the day is not something that had come naturally to me before that, but having worked 9 – 6 in an office for more than a year, now I just feel lazy if I’m not constantly doing something.
The experience of having built various real productions tools, including one fairly complex piece of business software, has also taught me a few things about good engineering processes and how my mind works when it comes to building complex systems. I have discovered that I like to build a series of small, functional prototypes, each implementing only a tiny fraction of the desired functionality.
By the time I am happy with all the features I have accumulated, I usually have a pretty good idea of how best to put it all together and design the user experience. This allows me to create one well-designed and thought-out program with a usable interface and all the required features by simply refactoring all the pieces I have been working on into the final application code. Once everything is working together it just needs some testing and perhaps a few minor tweaks and bug fixes before it is ready for production.
I deployed several tools into a live production environment and made changes based on feedback while working for Tek Translation International. It can be a humbling and ultimately, empowering experience to know that the team is saving a lot of time and money based on my contribution (humbling when there are major bugs).
I picked up many valuable things from my time at Tek. I made some great friends, learned a language, lived in a foreign country, engineering experience, I learned to cook a few things, and most of all I gained a drive to succeed in whatever I am doing. If that means picking up a strong work ethic then I’m sure that will be invaluable moving forwards. I also got locked out of my flat on Christmas Day, and became so unwell I almost died but my friends helped me through these setbacks and I live to fight another day. Thanks, girls.
Now that I am back at university it is really paying off. I am even starting to look into some business ideas that I have been coming up with in the last year. Never underestimate the value of writing down any good ideas you might have. It is amazing what little gems you can find in a notebook when you wake up in the morning. My course options this year have been largely influenced by my various business ideas, so I can learn some of the skills I need to make them happen.