Donald’s Start-up Work Experience
The School of Informatics has a strong link to industry and student enterprise. Each year there are many tech start-ups that come out of the school, and you can get involved with. In 2020-21, there were 100 start-ups founded by students with help from Edinburgh Innovations – the University’s commercialisation service.
- Edinburgh Innovations Website – contains tons of information and support for entrepreneurship
- Edinburgh Innovations Community – allows you to advertise yourself for start-ups. This is how I got contacted for my work experience.
My start-up journey – Software Engineer at Altra
In Summer 2021, I woke up one day to an email from a founder of a start-up that came out of Edinburgh Innovations. Altra is a tech start-up focused on developing a suite of web applications to save teachers’ time. I was then invited to join a Teams call with the founder where we discussed a project proposal, and I was offered the job. I then worked with Altra over summer developing a past-paper scraper tool which would parse the information from past papers into our own format for processing on the backend.
This experience was extremely valuable as it really tested the knowledge I gained in my first year, particularly the knowledge gained from Informatics 1B: Object Oriented Programming. I worked alongside another student – designing our solution, collaborating on the development, and testing as well as supplying progress updates to other members of the team.
I finished this project in August 2021 and returned to University in September. Due to my work on the past-paper scraper, I was given the opportunity to return to Altra part-time throughout the semester as a full-stack junior software engineer. This allowed me to gain more experience with working on the front-end using React. It also gave me the opportunity to develop the ‘Exporting resource’ feature where we would take our online custom resource and export it to different file formats including PDF, Word Doc, and PowerPoint.
Working at a start-up is a unique kind of work experience. Start-ups tend to be small teams of people so you can get a lot of input on the direction of the company and there is an incredibly open atmosphere and feedback. From a student’s perspective, it gave me essential work experience and skills which I have transferred to my studies and comes in handy when applying to any other Software Engineering role.
Altra Website – This is the website I worked on as part of my start-up experience.
Blog post originally written by Donald Jennings, Informatics Communications Intern 2022.