December Spartan of the Month: Elliot Gagola

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After choosing not to pursue a career in his degree field, Elliot Gagola began to teach himself to code. With his interest in IT growing, Elliot Gagola was introduced to Sparta Global through his father - who worked for Canada Life and was in a team with a Spartan! Working hard throughout training to develop his self-taught skills, Elliot has excelled in his role at AIG and earned responsibility to work on high profile projects...

 

Congratulations for being named December Spartan of the Month!

It was a great feeling! Whilst I feel like I’ve been doing a good job on my client assignment, it can be difficult to know how that compares to all of the other Spartans working elsewhere. This award makes me feel very proud of the effort I’ve put into my work and it’s nice to know that even though we aren’t working in the same building as other teams, that there’s a lot of care and attention being paid to us!

 

How did you first find out about Sparta Global?

I had already decided after university that I didn’t want to go into the field that my degree had prepared me for – Mechanical Engineering at The University of Sheffield – so I started to research alternative options. I began to teach myself to code, learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Java. I was worried that even with some technical knowledge, it would be difficult for me to get a role in the industry without formal training/certifications and with no relevant experience. Sparta Global provided a solution to both!

 

My dad works in the IT department for one of Sparta Global’s clients – Canada Life - and works with a Spartan. He recommended I apply to start my own career. Before I knew it, I was speaking to a member of the talent team and was offered a place at an assessment day the following week.

 

Tell us a little bit about your time training at the Academy?

I trained at Sparta Global’s London Academy and was on the SDET course - starting in late September 2018 and graduating on the 21st of December.

 

I really enjoyed my time at the Academy! Being in a building full of people of a similar age and mindset meant that it was very easy to get on with the people around me. However, the training was intense. Most days were full of lessons, projects and presentations, with work set every evening that was due for the following day. I felt as if the work I had done before I began training had given me a good platform to succeed though and at no point did I feel overwhelmed. I still had plenty of time for myself.

 

How has your training at Sparta helped you in the workplace?

In terms of technical content, the training overlaps well with the work I have been asked to do on my client assignment. Concepts have been the same and my knowledge of Agile methodologies made integrating with the company’s style of working straightforward. However, with my training being primarily in Ruby in 2018 and the placement company working solely with C#, I did have to train in the language on the job.

 

For me the most beneficial part of training with Sparta was the mindset. The client companies you are assigned to may work with different technologies in different ways, and the industry that the company is involved in will come with a learning curve that would be impossible to account for in every case. Where Sparta Global’s training really excels is teaching you the ability to pick up new skills and retain information quickly. This allowed me and other Spartans to acclimate to any new roles or projects easily.

 

Tell us a little but more about your current technology position and your day-to-day tasks.

I currently work as an automation tester at AIG Life in Reigate, Surrey.

 

My role is very heavily built around the Scrum methodology. I start my day with a team stand up to discuss the progress of work and plan the day, before working to plan my testing for items of work that have been brought into a current sprint. Throughout the day I will build and maintain automation tests for some of the systems that the company is developing, working closely with the developers and business analysts to ensure that everything that is built by the team meets all relevant criteria.

 

How did you manage the transition from the Academy to work?

At first, I found it a lot to take in - moving to a new part of the country, working in an industry I didn’t know and having no formal work experience in technology. Whilst these factors have made work a challenge at times, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to develop my skills and have been given a lot of responsibility by the company, working on high profile projects where I am free to make decisions on test coverage and planning.

 

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to pursue a career in tech! Every day is different and brings new challenges. My biggest fear with work was being bored and stuck doing the same thing every day, but that has definitely not been the case!

 

Would you recommend Sparta Global to other graduates? 

I’ve already recommended it to graduates and even people who are yet to complete University! I feel job hunters are in a Catch-22 situation when it comes to starting a career these days, with companies often unwilling to recruit those with no relevant experience.

 

Sparta is the perfect solution, providing everyone with a platform to get into a STEM career. I also really appreciate the work Sparta does with Diversity & Inclusion, which I think is far beyond what most companies in the field are doing right now, so I’ve been singing Sparta’s praises to any young women who are considering going into the field too!