April Spartan of the Month: Sam Forrester26/05/2020
With a desire to work in an industry that combined practical methods with problem-solving, Sam Forrester set his sights on a career in tech. Initially finding it difficult to find training or job opportunities in the industry with no previous experience, Sam joined Sparta Global’s London Academy in late 2019. Now six months into his new career, Sam is working for one of the UK’s biggest insurance companies.
Congratulations for being named our March Spartan of the Month!
I was very surprised to be chosen - I was not expecting it at all! It is nice to know that some of the things I am doing are being recognised, especially at a company with more than 300 people in the same boat! I hope the Spartan of the Month scheme continue to drive Spartans to work hard and showcase their talents and the excellent things they are doing.
How did you first come across Sparta Global?
I studied Mathematics at the University of Bath and while the course was engaging, it was extremely academic and theoretical. I wanted to find something to commit to that was more practical but still challenged my problem-solving abilities. Having dabbled with coding at University and on some online courses, I turned my efforts to getting a job in technology.
Sparta Global was the only company I found that was willing to give a chance to someone who wanted to get into tech but didn’t necessarily have the relevant qualifications or experience. They even encouraged people from different academic backgrounds to apply! It was this recognition of people from diverse backgrounds that attracted me. When I interviewed at the new London Wall office, I felt relaxed and comfortable despite the fact that - in theory - it should have been a stressful experience. I believed that this would be the place to give me the foundation to build my career in tech. So far I’ve only been proved right, having being given an opportunity to work for a company in a role that I don’t believe I would have achieved without Sparta.
Tell us a little bit about your time training at the Academy?
I trained on the DevOps course at the London Wall Academy, starting on September 9th 2019 and graduating on November 15th. Arguably, I learned more from my time at the Academy than I did in four years of University!
The training was rigorous at times and I had to put in some long hours, but it was unbelievably rewarding – completing code to run a complicated procedure with a single click was a great feeling! It is well structured, constantly evolving and immersive. My trainer – Filipe – taught us a lot, not just about programming and tooling but how to handle yourself in the workplace too. I was also extremely lucky to share my journey with the class of Engineering 42, they are a solid bunch and I couldn’t have done it without them!
How do you think your training at Sparta Global has helped you in the workplace?
The business skills week in training really helped me develop my soft skills and realise the positive effect of having prowess in that area.
There was no time wasted in getting us using technology either, and the exposure to programming and lots of tooling was extremely beneficial. That was an important lesson learned, as technology really is an ever-changing world. It’s easy to focus on the more tangible things learned at the Academy – i.e. the technology, but where I think it really prepared me is behaviour wise. It taught me how to teach myself new things, to persevere and not become disheartened or frustrated when things are not working properly. I learned a lot about how to carry myself professionally and personally.
Tell us a little bit more about your client assignment?
I am now working as a Site Reliability Engineer at a leading insurance provider in Bromley.
I am part of a team that provides support for a suite of business applications, including one that is critical to the business’ daily function. This means being on hand to coordinate and implement fixing the application if it ever becomes unavailable or suffers an outage – even when it happens in the middle of the night! - as well as overseeing changes made in the application software or the infrastructure it sits on.
The other part of my job is working on improving the service that our applications provide. We as a team are continually working to minimise any downtime of our applications, improve the users’ experience of the application and eliminating repetitive tasks through implementation of better practices and use of technology and automation.
How are you finding your first tech role and working in the industry?
It isn’t a case of sitting at a desk all day like one might think - I am finding that I get the chance to engage with various people from different backgrounds and I find it interesting to see how they all blend together.
I am very much enjoying working in tech! I get to fix bugs and stretch my ability to solve complex problems on a day-to-day basis, with no single day being the same. I get to be passionate and show initiative with utilising technology to make things better and add value, and I am constantly learning new things - be it through practise or more structured learning.
Would you recommend Sparta Global to other graduates and if so – why?
I would! Sparta Global has put me in a position that I could not have been in without their investment and belief that people can succeed in the tech industry without having a computer science education. They back the person - not their previous experiences. The Academy training has been a hugely beneficial experience and provided me with lots of opportunities to learn and develop.