Training, interviewing and working remotely29/07/2021
Matt Whittaker is one of a number of Spartans who completed their Academy training during the pandemic – meaning they ran through our programme entirely remotely and started their first job without having visited the office. After going through remote onboarding for his first role with AJG, Matt shares his experience to support other young people kickstarting careers at this unique time.
First off Matt, huge congratulations for completing our training, securing a role and starting a new career in tech during this difficult period! Before we talk about your remote onboarding, can you tell us how you found going through the interview process with employers remotely too?
How did you find the remote interview process?
It was a little strange considering everything was still happening virtually, but once I realised it would be very similar to the onboarding process I had gone with through Sparta Global, my nerves calmed considerably!
Do you have any tips for Spartans currently preparing for their first virtual client interviews?
I suppose what I'd say to most Spartans is that the whole process is going to feel weird and different because those are just the times we're living in right now. If you do your research, dress for the occasion, and really sell yourself, you'll do just fine! The best advice is just to take your time; it's probably as weird for the interviewers as it is for you!
So you passed the interview stage and were offered a job with AJG! What was it like starting your assignment with them from home?
It was pretty exciting! I got given a company laptop for my role, so it was exciting to get that delivered to my door - it really felt like everything was starting to become real. On day 1 my boss spent the whole day talking to me about the business, who they are and what they do, and then progressively went into more detail of how I would be operating in the company.
We have an internal forum where people can put forward request tickets to the IT and the MI/BI Analysts (that's me!), and my boss collected a few of these tickets for me to go over in my first few weeks. It was pretty crazy at first when I realised just how much data the company really operated with, and how much there was to sift through to find what was needed for a report, but once I managed to put everything together and submit it, it was really special to see how beneficial it was for the person who requested it. And it still is! I live for getting thanked for the work I put out, and while I'm definitely still learning, it really feels like it's coming together with each passing day!
After your first month, you were asked to meet your line manager and team in-person at the AJG/Bollington offices. How did you find the day, and what was it like working with your new team in person?
Since I hadn't needed to relocate due to the remote working opportunity, I had to take a two-hour drive up to Manchester to meet my new team ... it was a very early start! But once I got there, I got to meet all the wonderful people in person, including my boss, who is really nice! He gave me a tour of the office which, despite a large chunk of its people working from home, was still full of activity. On each of the floors were the folks who worked with the systems that I had only ever seen from the back-end, and it was really nice to see it contextualised. I could see how the work I did impacted everyone in the business, and it really made me feel like a proper part of the company!
As for our team, we are a very small group in comparison to others in the business - we exist on the ground floor in a team of about 5-6 people. Personally, I think that's a great size, as everyone is focussed on their work since we're all so integral to the daily operations of the business, but at the same time, everyone’s more than willing to lend a hand... you need only ask! I'm looking forward to going into the office more and more often as we begin to move forward from the pandemic.
Have you got any advice for other Spartans - or people who are considering becoming a Spartan - around remote and hybrid working?
Working from home can easily be seen as a blessing. The area of tech that Spartans operate in is growing every single day, and it's going to keep growing whether we like it or not! A lot of businesses are also beginning to realise that a lot of this kind of tech work can be done remotely... regardless of whether restrictions are in place. I personally think that the landscape is shifting and soon enough working from home, while it might not be the "norm", it will definitely be required by a lot more companies who will reduce their office capacity. And sure, you'll still need to go into the office from time to time, but I think we're moving away from the once typical 9-5 Monday-Friday office working pattern.
My advice for current Spartans? Get comfortable! Chances are you're going to be working remotely for a while yet, and that's A-okay! Practice good mental health, make sure to get lots of fresh air, and don't be afraid to just walk away from the desk for a little bit - as long as the work gets done!
My advice to aspiring Spartans? Definitely ask yourself if this is an area of work you're interested in, and whether you can afford to be indoors and at a computer for most hours of the day. There's a lot more to this sector than "just" being sat at a computer all day, but if you want to get a feel for that kind of stuff, dedicate some time to doing a coding project or something fun. Anything that finds you at a computer for solid chunks of the day. If you can stomach it, we're here when you're ready... the world of Data isn't slowing down any time soon!