From Campus to Coders: Student Life at Fivium

As eager students arriving from the Universities of Bath and Kent, the transition into our young careers felt like a significant step. Fivium, however, made this transition seamless. Several months before our official start date, we had the opportunity to meet fellow placement students and mentors in the office. A few games of Codenames and indulging in an array of sweet treats helped us to break the ice and get to know the people we would soon encounter on a daily basis. With our initial apprehensions set aside, the first day was a breeze - aside from the agonising struggle to come up with a “fun” fact about ourselves.

Our work began with the student training project, where each of us was tasked with making an emergency service response system. In this first month, with the guidance of step-by-step instructions, other developers, and each other, we made a functional web app using Java with Spring Boot. While perhaps not functional enough to actually be used, this first project was a great introduction to the development process.

Interwoven with our coding escapades were enlightening talks spanning every facet of the company. These not only offered our weary fingers a welcome respite, but also gave context and reasoning for the work that we would be doing as developers. Despite all these talks, we still had one remaining question: what actually is a ‘case’?

Month two marked the start of our group training projects, where we were split into two teams making services for requesting planning permission and asking MPs questions. Building on skills learnt in the first project, we delved into more advanced processes like sprint-based development, peer code reviews, and version control. At the start, we had our fair share of challenges, but ultimately, by the end of the projects, we were all much more confident in our abilities in not just coding but also code reviews, time management, and collaborative teamwork.

Upon completion of our projects, we were given the pleasure of demonstrating our applications to the entire company. While daunting at first, multiple dry runs with colleagues throughout the company helped us get a feel for it. To say our public speaking skills had come on leaps and bounds would be an understatement - Alex even felt confident enough to unleash his inner Steve Jobs… boom!

We also eagerly participated in the annual hack-day, in which we won prizes for our innovative hacks such as a Raspberry Pi controlled coffee pod dispenser, and using AI to monitor ‘Little Dan's' standing desk usage.

We each have a personal mentor with whom we have frequent catch-ups; these are not confined to simply work-related issues, but our personal wellbeing too. Throughout the year we are going to work on pair projects unrelated to work. This will offer the freedom to be creative and experiment with new technologies and languages.

In the few months we've spent at Fivium, we have become integrated into the company's community and culture. We've gone to multiple work socials, from boat parties to restaurant dinners, where we've been able to connect with colleagues in a relaxed setting. Unfortunately, we joined slightly too late to witness Bartek’s display of excellence in the sport of mini-golf, or perhaps more accurately his excellence in hitting balls towards people’s heads. We've found camaraderie over a variety of topics, from heated debates on the classification of Jaffa Cakes (cake or biscuit?) to braving fiery chilli peppers. Based centrally, the location of the office makes it easy to plan lunchtime trips to Embankment Gardens, or debatably everyone’s favourite sandwich spot, Chequers.

Any student who has applied for a placement can undoubtedly relate to the anxiety of taking your first steps into the working world, accompanied by the fear of being relegated to coffee runs and menial tasks. However, our experience so far with Fivium has been overwhelmingly supportive and welcoming. As we begin to transition into our new teams, we can confidently declare our excitement for what the remainder of the year has in store for us.

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