A day in the life of a Junior Developer at Applied Systems

  • Dominic Palmer started working as a Junior Developer at Applied Systems on 23 November 2020. He is currently based in Brighton, although works remotely for a team in Belfast. 

    Sync NI chatted to him about starting his new role with the insurance-based software firm during lockdown, how his experience has been working there so far, and advice for prospective techies on the lookout for a new role. 

    What was your background before joining the company?

    “Before joining Applied I wasn't strictly working in software development; I was more focused on data science in insurance. I was working on machine learning techniques for pricing optimization at an insurer. Because I enjoyed the software development aspects of data science, it felt like a natural progression to pursue software engineering in and of itself. 

    “Previously I was working with Python - a programming language commonly used in data science - although I did have experience with statically typed languages like C# used throughout Applied Systems. Everything came together nicely for me to move on from insurance pricing to developing software used in the insurance industry.”

    What does your typical work day look like?

    “The first thing I do is check my emails and get all admin tasks completed. Generally speaking I then move straight onto the tasks I've been assigned, which could be fixing defects, implementing a new feature request, or a spike - an investigation into a story or a job. 

    Work on these tasks might take up the whole day depending on the scope. Throughout the day I'm in constant communication with other members of the team - software development is a collaborative process. I wouldn’t say I have a standard day where I do X, Y and Z in order, and that variety keeps everything very interesting. 

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    At the moment I’m working on an internal rate calculation service. It's an internally hosted quote engine which allows us to generate quotes in real time using calculation instructions that insurers specify and provide.

    It's written in .NET Core - a technology I had no prior experience with - which has been interesting for me personally to get up to speed and work with.

    What advice would you give to people hoping to join Applied Systems or start working in the tech sector in general? 

    I would say keep an open mind as to how you approach, tackle and think about solving problems. There are many ways to solve the same issue in software, so don’t restrict yourself by focusing on fixed methods. Make sure you've got a broad knowledge of generalised problem-solving skills as opposed to specific knowledge about a certain language or a certain technology. 

    I think the skill of solving problems you're not familiar with is more important than solving problems you are familiar with where you're just going through a process. 

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    For me personally, I started this job with no industry experience of C#, so I've had to use the general skill of applying existing knowledge to new situations in order to do well. 

    I think the creativity aspect of software is what best defines the industry. In the same way a spoken language can be used to construct creative sentences, programming languages can be used creatively to solve problems in various ways. Developing this creativity is important. 

    Did you always want to work in technology or what attracted you to the industry?

    As far back as I can remember I've always been interested in technology. In college I was always particularly interested in maths and physics. From there I completed an undergraduate degree in maths and then went on to complete a masters degree in applied maths, which focused more on algorithmic software development. 

    When applying for jobs, I knew I wanted to work in programming. The blend of a maths background with programming experience is what first led me to data science, then my interest in the creativity of writing software is what led me to pursue software engineering.  

    Find out more about Applied Systems on their website here.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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