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Blog - My Background

Published: 2014-11-14

I graduated from Teesside University with a 2:1 in BSc Computing. While the School of Computing offered degrees focused on specific areas of study, the computing degree was open, allowing for a great deal of freedom in module choice. This allowed me to develop an idea of which sector within the I.T industry that I wanted to work in. Using this flexibility to focus on Web Development, I choose modules that would be beneficial to the web industry, and within days of finishing University, I was offered a job at an E-commerce Web Development company. The job consisted of utilising skills learnt such as xHTML and CSS to put together pixel perfect web templates based on Photoshop designs, and provided valuable experience of working within the digital industry.

I was then offered a higher level job at a separate IT company which focused more on backend development, a fantastic opportunity for me as the new role really allowed me to put my skills to good use. It was in this second role that I learnt the majority of what I know today. Working as part of a team, we built a PHP based E-commerce website in the Code Igniter framework. During this time I improved my knowledge of jQuery, PHP, Terminal Commands and JavaScript dramatically. The company at this point was going through a big growth transition, which meant long hours and a lot of learning, but times were exciting – in my own time, I would pick up a book to learn more about Web Development. It was here that I began attending local user groups and conferences.

We began using a new framework - Fuel - which was a more modern replacement for Code Igniter. We moved towards creating a modern development environment. In came Git, Continuous integration, Vagrant, Jenkins and Unit Testing. This was all phased in while developing an e-commerce platform which we would use to rapidly build future sites. We also focussed on ways of improving the load time of the websites. I also had my own smaller projects to work, which allowed me to focus on time management and client relations, which was hugely beneficial. I built and integrated an API that consumed data from an external source for a loan website, and it was at this point I was headhunted for another role within another digital company. This was a hard decision as I enjoyed my responsibilities and the amount I was learning. In some ways, it could have been seen as a sidestep as the predominant language used was Python, a language that I didn't have much experience in. However, I enjoyed the idea of a challenge and also the idea of learning a new language. After a very enjoyable year, I decided it was time for another change, and took the offered role. Having worked commercially in the Web Development industry for almost three years I felt I needed to once again focus on which particular area of expertise I wanted to concentrate on, and the new job allowed for the best way for me to achieve this, as this way, I could work on my own projects as well as taking on enough freelance work to build up a personal portfolio.

A month later I am happy to say that it's going well. Including this site I've had three websites go live - one for my local running club Middlesbrough and Cleveland harriers and another for local clothing retailer One Eyed Jacks . Having focused on developing websites throughout my career. I used this opportunity to attempt some design work. I started with a complete blank canvas for Middlesbrough and Cleveland Harriers and had a lot of fun doing designing and developing this site.

I intend to continue taking on freelance work over the coming months.

Mark