Student member Tony Edwards shares his experience of connecting with the Software Cornwall community, 10th Feb 2016
After more than a year on the fringes, six months ago I finally took the plunge and joined Software Cornwall under the Student membership program. With the long-term goal of working in Cornwall, the fit seemed perfect. Little did I know at the time, how influential the organisation would become in the months that followed.
In September 2014 I attended Agile on the Beach as a sponsors guest. I was amazed at the passion the delegates and speakers had for our sleepy county. Although I didn’t want to leave Cornwall for work, I had resided myself to having to move ‘up north’ (i.e Exeter) in order to find a halfway decent job as a software developer. Following the conference I walked away buzzing about the potential of working in Cornwall, thinking I had found my people. I thought at the time I’d join up near to the end of my degree.
Fast-forward to 2015 and my industry placement had started. Whilst I did receive an offer of placement via Software Cornwall, I decided to stay in Plymouth rather than moving, only to have to head back 12 months later for my final year. Following the offer I knew that I had to get involved in some way with the organisation. I spoke to my boss at Plymouth Software who agreed to fund my ticket to Agile on the Beach. This time around, after discussions with the organisers, I live blogged the sessions I attended on the official website and generally threw myself into the experience. Soon after, I became a fully fledged member of Software Cornwall.
Since then, Software Cornwall has connected me with business and thought leaders from across Cornwall. It’s true to say that many of the opportunities, both in software development and outside, have come about due to my affiliation with the organisation. I’ve had an application forms sent to me by a department head at a national newspaper, assisted in running a Google-backed workshop, been approached by a startup and even offered an interview the moment I leave University. More important than these amazing opportunities is that the network has helped me to develop relationships that go beyond a common love for Cornwall and software.
The ability to network and connect with decision makers, who are likely to play a part in my future growth and success, has been invaluable as a student. The Slack channel has been helpful in this respect. Conversing with developers, marketers and owners from companies I plan to approach after University has given me insight into exactly what they look for in new hires. Although there is certainly no guarantee of a job when the time comes, it will help me to be prepared for interviews and be a more productive member of the team should I get the job.
My voice and opinions are heard in a way that they wouldn’t be without the support of Software Cornwall. I’ve found that my perspective as a Plymouth University student is valued, and is helping to shape the future success of the blossoming software industry in the county in some small way. In return, I’ve received support and advice on a range of subjects, from writing a book to crowdfunding my ideas…… with the odd surfing tip thrown in for good luck. Advice from my university connections is fantastic, but getting it from industry presents a vastly different viewpoint from the academic mindset.
It’s often said that if ‘you build a great product, your users will evangelise it for you’. If this is true, then the organisation must be great. Numerous times, I’ve caught myself sharing the benefits of being a member with my peers, as well as the developer community north of the border.
If you’re reading this as a student and have the remotest interest of working in Cornwall when you complete your studies, join up. It’s never too soon to start networking, and Software Cornwall is a great, forward-thinking network of which to be a part.
Tony Edwards – Software Cornwall Student Member