A day in the life of a Developer

Richard Aspden
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Tagged in: A day in the life of...
6 minutes reading time
  • Over the coming weeks we’ve lined up several interviews with our awesome staff across development, design, SEO, content marketing and senior management to give you an idea of what it’s like to work here at Totally. So to kick off our ‘day in the life’ interviews, meet Richard – one of our talented Senior Developers.

    Can you begin by telling us a bit about yourself and your role at Totally?

    My name is Richard. I’ve been working for Totally for seven years. Started as a junior and now find myself as part of the Senior Development team, working and managing various projects and overseeing the emergence of the latest bright young things from the development world.

    Could you describe a typical day in the office?

    Apart from being sat at a computer all day, there are no 'typical days' - each project is quite different. My work day begins at around 9am – post morning coffee, I start preparing for the days tasks. Typically, I’ll set myself where I need to be by the end of the day and try not to leave before I’m there.

    As a general rule, we tend to manage ourselves and our work tasks in conjunction with our Head of Technology, Ben, and the respective project manager. These tasks are often a mixture of maintenance and new build projects which gives me the opportunity to work with a mix of people across a variety of organisations – a definite benefit when it comes to developing your skills and building relationships.

    Sometimes development work can come in bursts depending on clients coming back to you about things, and you can be sure when you think something is finally done, it’s most definitely not.

    Other than that I fill the day by pretending I can stand losing to certain colleagues at Pool, keeping the caffeine levels topped up and making occasional derogatory remarks about whatever music we have playing in the office that day.

    What key skills do you think are most important in a Developer?

    Study the wrong subject and then wing it for as long as it takes to learn what you’re doing! That’s sort of what I did, but I don’t think that’s really the way to go.

    However learning on the job is key. You can study how systems work and how to code, but you’ll only really know what you’re doing by picking up the methodology and quirky behaviour of how technology companies do things on the job. Each company has their own unique processes and procedures and working for one such company is no preparation for working for another.

    I think you also need to wholeheartedly adopt the idea of continual learning. Technology is developing rapidly and it is important to embrace this change and devote every effort to keeping up. 

    Do you have a favourite part of your job?

    I’m not sure getting Totally to shout us pizza every other Friday counts as part of my job technically, but it’s certainly a favourite part of working here. As are Friday afternoon drinks every so often.

    But from a work point of view, being able to hand work over to clients is always a satisfying feeling. Applying my skills to new technologies and then seeing the culmination of my efforts realised in an end product is what its all about.

    And even if a client comes back with a long list of changes, it still feels like you’ve reached a marker each time you do it - and it’s always nice to be able to say ‘there you go’ rather than ‘shouldn’t be too much longer I hope!’.

    What do you find the most challenging?

    Sometimes you have days when things just don't work. And you have no fallback examples to work from. Those days can be challenging, particularly when you have a tight deadline. But you just have to make it happen, somehow!

    With this in mind, another challenge sometimes comes from the temptation to work solo. It can often be easy to get tunnel vision and forget the collaboration element when your head is stuck in front of a computer screen. I have learnt with experience that sometimes it’s important to take a step back, reassess and share your difficulties with others - as that may be the quickest path to solving your problem.

    Is there a project that you are particularly proud of and why?

    Seven years is a long time. There have been many projects over that time. I still remember the first one and the feeling when it went live - that is definitely up there.

    But I suppose bringing some semblance of order to the United Synagogue Intranet is worthy of mention as it’s a massive system, and a big job. And finally, of course, the previous Totally Communications website which won an award.

    How would you describe working for Totally Communications?

    I wouldn’t dare try and describe it! I hear their spies are everywhere.

    Oh go on then… It’s certainly changed a lot since I joined. It’s bigger, more vibrant and more fun. It’s also nurturing and promotes autonomous self management amongst all the staff. Self learning is encouraged, and the variety of work we do is rewarding.

    That’s what you need when working for a technology company I think. So long as it changes for the better, then it’s all good.

    What attributes are you looking for in new Developers joining the Totally team?

    I think the ability to apply practically anything they may have studied or learned from elsewhere to the job is important. The work will be different from what they have done before, although there will be similarities too. But it’s marrying the two that is key to learning how we do things and how you can progress here.

    After that, we generally find there is no limit to what a developer can achieve for themselves, and offer us as an employee. In short it’s more about application of skills, than the skills themselves.

    We’re currently looking to make a few additions to the Totally team. Find out more on our Jobs page.

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