In his own words, Spartan Sabir Nisar shares his Sparta Global experience and journey into a Test Automation career...
I’ve been interested in computers and technology for as long as I can remember. I quite vividly recall installing custom firmware on my PSP when I was just nine years old, and I rooted my first smartphone not long after, which gave birth to my interest in modding and writing scripts. I started coding in Python when I was 12, when my IT teacher encouraged me to take a programming class. That led me to GCSE Computer Science.
Programming for me was a way to make long, complicated things simple. At times my teacher would joke I was her teaching assistant, since I was always helping my classmates with different work assignments. The entire class did really well, which was awesome to be a part of! It was obvious I should go on to study CompSci at university, and I applied successfully to my local university, Aston.
Growing up, you’re taught that we live in a meritocracy – that if you work hard, you’re guaranteed to succeed – but as I approached graduation, I realised that isn’t the case. I’ve always been academic and really enjoyed my degree, but the one thing I was afraid of was that my strengths wouldn’t translate into interviews and jobs. My academic life felt very structured, and I knew that working hard would give me the results I needed – study leads to exam success, and that leads to good grades - but job hunting contains a degree of luck and unpredictability I found very nerve-wracking. After GCSEs, A Levels, and my degree, I can honestly say the hardest part was trying to get a job at the end.
Students are under such a monumental amount of stress as graduation approaches; you’re not just worried about your results, but also how you’re going to get the job to start paying off the enormous amount of debt you’re in. I was petrified that my social skills - or lack of them! - would stop me from being able to get a good job so I started applying for roles early in my final year. I felt like I was stuck in a cycle of passing all the coding, logic and reasoning tests and then failing at the last hurdle, the interview stage. I found the process quite demoralising and I was beginning to think maybe I just wasn’t good enough for a role in IT and I was beginning to lose hope.
And then, I was contacted by Sparta about their Test Automation roles! I began the recruitment process, and a week later I got the job. I loved how simple and fast-paced the assessment process was - I would always say I'd rather get rejected quickly than two months later! After months and months of applying for dozens of roles, I felt a huge sense of relief to have found such an incredibly supportive company that was determined to help me succeed.
Growing up I wasn’t the most confident person, and I struggled with social anxiety. In a weird way, the pandemic helped me. As an introverted person, lockdown life felt very normal to me, but I saw everyone else really struggling with the lack of social contact and it made me realise I must be missing out on something! When I started my Sparta training, I took it as an opportunity to get practising on my social skills, and I began to leave my comfort zone and made more of an attempt to either meet new people or revitalise the relationships I already had with the people in my life. I found that the more I learned about people, the more interested I became. I used to find small talk so uncomfortable, but I realised that everyone has something interesting to say and I love finding out what that is. This small change in my mentality completely changed the way I approached social situations. With Sparta’s help my confidence grew, and when I had a brilliant interview with my dream client – a global technology consultancy – it felt like destiny!
When I started work with my client, it was surprising to see how many women were on my team. It’s such a refreshing change from my degree - there’s already a perception that Computer Science is a male-dominated subject, but the reality at my university was even more extreme than I’d imagined, and in our lab session of over 100 students there was only one woman. I was both shocked and happy to realise how diverse my project team is in terms of gender, race, age, background and values, and how brilliant it is to have a variety of different stories and personalities around me. I learn so much from my teammates; for example, I work with a Spanish woman in her thirties whose background is in linguistics, and she’s a phenomenal programmer because coding is essentially learning languages!
Not only does it make for a better working environment, but from a project development standpoint to build a product that’s going to be used by a diverse user base, it's almost essential to have a diverse team of people making it. I can build a platform as a 23-year-old Asian male for people in my age group, but I can’t know how an older woman will feel using it, or perhaps someone who’s neurodivergent. The more diverse the team building the platform, the better they’ll understand their audience and the better the product will be.
My personal transformation, with the help of Sparta, has made me incredibly proud of the person I have become. Only 18 months ago, covid was rampant, I was antisocial, and my mum was worried I’d never be able to move out of home! Now, I’m living in an apartment in Liverpool with my best friend, working for one of the world’s largest tech consultancies, and my sense of motivation has skyrocketed. Growing so much in such a short time has made me want to do more to make the world a better place, and it's improved my relationships with people a lot. Only a few days ago I went to a family event, and one of my cousins commented that I’m now the most sociable amongst us! It felt awesome to have a confirmation of character development!
I couldn’t recommend Sparta Global more as a company. The application process was excellent, and I felt extremely well supported – it made it clear to me that Sparta was a company I really wanted to work for. My trainers Nish and Cathy were superb; they not only made me a better programmer, but a better person, because they taught me how to support myself and other people. The type of people that Sparta recruit are only the best, and I got along well with my whole class. One of the drawbacks of working from home is the lack of socialising but having my monthly check-ins with Emma (Engagement team) and Cindy (Account Manager) really helps me feel connected – they’ve coached me in relationship building and I can feel myself becoming more socially confident. I have so many great new people in my life, and I have Sparta to thank for that. And joining my client, and starting my career as a Test Engineer, is the cherry on the cake!