This article is being written in a somewhat bizarre situation. I haven’t stepped foot in the office for almost three months, my car is slowly turning into a garden ornament, and I have spent more time in the spare bedroom of my parent’s house than my own. But of course, as I write this article, these are far from normal times. Covid-19 is affecting everyone’s lives. Going out grocery shopping has become the pinnacle of my social life, and I have spent more time on FaceTime / Zoom / Microsoft Teams in the past 9 weeks than I have in all my 19.25 years. One thing however, which I am exceptionally grateful for, and has remained constant through all of the aforementioned turbulence; I am still able to continue my Internship at Datitude.
In many ways, the lockdown has done me a favour. My morning commute no longer sees me steadily work my way through the Wycombe traffic each day, instead I have a brisk 5 second walk from my bedroom to my “office” (the term being used loosely here as my office is, in fact, a small corner of a guest room that hasn’t seen a guest come to stay in quite a while longer than the lockdown). I also no longer need to worry about making my lunch the night before work – now I can pop down to the kitchen whenever I am feeling peckish. Jokes aside, I thoroughly miss the office.
The team at Datitude are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people you could ever hope to meet. Never have I seen them lose their temper, turn down a request for help, or have a dull conversation. The office dynamic is a large part of what I woke up looking forward to enjoying each day, with conversations about anything from the news, to exercise, to even just nice places to spend a weekend, they remain interesting and insightful with a group of smart, respectful, and open-minded people. But when a problem needs addressing, these great minds are put to use. The tenacity with which the team track down and solve issues is unparalleled, with the whole team working together as one, supporting each other and each doing their part to ensure that all problems the clients face are not just tackled head on and solved, but with mechanisms put in place to prevent the same problem ever happening again. As someone fresh out of school, this drive and desire to make our client’s jobs as easy as possible, while still providing all the tools required for the client to be able to get whatever information it is that they desire, was riveting, and I found myself inspired to work harder and in the same way, determined to become a true asset to Datitude and their clients. The incredible mindset of the team most certainly rubs off onto you, and as someone facing three years of university soon, I could not be more grateful to them for instilling this focus within me.
It is not just a fantastic mindset that this opportunity has given me though. The technical skills I’ve developed while working in this role will, without a doubt, form the bedrock of my CV for my future career. From learning how to man a support desk and manage client relationships, to hunting down and fixing issues within large databases, my skills and abilities have been honed to a level I never thought I would be able to reach in such a short time. I have also been introduced to a fantastic range of tools I had never heard of before, like Talend and Tableau, which I will most certainly be using going forward. The teams support in helping me learn these tools (which must have required an ungodly amount of patience) has been truly unbelievable. Whether it’s James and Stephen helping me trying to create Talend jobs, Gavin helping me with my SQL / Redshift queries, Sarah showing me some of the intricacies of data presentation, or Rich demonstrating some of the exceptional features he has created for Datitude’s new Web App, the support has been immense. I’m thoroughly inspired to try out new approaches to issues and maintain an open mindset about tackling problems, something I had struggled to keep throughout my entire school career!
Additionally, the team has been incredibly supportive of me on my own projects too! I had an idea to use a method of Time Series Forecasting with some libraries in Python to accurately predict retail data. I would imagine that as an intern anywhere else, this idea would have been totally ignored, or taken off my hands and pursued separately. However, at Datitude, not only did they encourage me to follow up on this idea, they gave me all the time and help I needed to do so. Despite being in the middle of their own, far more important tasks, the team would never fail to take the time out to give me advice on the project or help me acquire data for testing it. As a result, my coding skills have improved exponentially and I’ve learnt how to properly create professional looking scripts, as well as how to implement these scripts within a larger job to allow the entire process to happen automatically. I have no doubt that for years to come this project will be a staple of my portfolio and, if it were not for the teams’ constant patience, guidance and interest shown in this project, I never would have had the opportunity to pursue this idea!
Do not be fooled into thinking that all of the skills picked up at the office have been work related however! Thanks to the wide range of interests amongst the team, I have also learnt how to make a good latte using a regular coffee machine, had brilliant workout advice given to me whenever I need it (which I have put into practice in the office’s own gym), and been thoroughly educated on great routes for a Sunday ride around Wycombe and the surrounding area!
I must warn you however – given how good the coffees are from the office coffee machine, building up a caffeine dependency is a very real danger! In addition I feel I must forewarn you that the coloured caps on the bottled milk delivered to the office do not line up with the colours you commonly find in a supermarket. If you aren’t careful, you may find your skimmed milk cappuccino becoming semi skimmed…
If this article hasn’t convinced you so far, an internship at Datitude is absolutely fantastic. It provides both the digital skills required for a career in software and data management / analytics, as well as the personal development skills required so no matter what role or field you end up going into, you find the pleasure in hands-on, hard work and tackling projects head on! The team are supportive and inspiring, encouraging you to not only work harder and smarter, but to also pursue your own ideas and develop them into a viable tool for the benefit of all clients.
Through all of this, the role has remained fun and something I wake up every morning looking forward to, regardless of whether that’s going into the office or working from my desk at home. This is thanks to the wonderful team, and their ability to make hard work both deeply enjoyable and rewarding. I could not be more grateful to them for giving me this opportunity, and how thoroughly it has set me up for my future. The phrase “you get out what you put in” gets thrown around a lot, but at Datitude, I have found myself getting out so much more from this role than I ever could have hoped for.
Lastly, for anyone who is thinking of applying for this role (which I would strongly encourage anyone in a similar position to me doing) I leave you some small, but worthwhile tips. Firstly, always go around Wycombe, not through it – traffic through the centre of town in the morning is an absolute nightmare! Secondly, always use the double espresso setting on the coffee machine – you’ve just got to take my word for it on this one! Finally, remember that while this role will do so much for you, you also have an obligation to always try your best. The team will not be disappointed in you for being unable to do a task and they will make sure they give you all the help required to learn the skills required to complete said task. But in exchange, you owe it to them to make sure you are always putting maximum effort into the role, because if you do so, this position will set you up fantastically for your future career, whatever you decide to do!