I am from the small Russian city of Ulyanovsk on the river Volga where I read for a BSc in Information Systems and Technologies at the Ulyanovsk State Technical University. I planned to study for a master’s degree in the UK. There were many available but Durham University School of Engineering and Computer Sciences had better reviews, a partnership history with my university in Russia and, moreover, offered an opportunity to apply for a full-funding scholarship, which is a rare privilege, especially for an overseas student like me. Even though I was not awarded that funding in the end, I am absolutely sure I made the right decision! The course was just how I expected it to be – not just “how to program” but also “why to do so”. Although the academic side of the Durham University experience was great, really the best thing was its community. Before going to Durham I had never met so many like-minded intelligent people from such a variety of backgrounds.
As well as study I also enjoyed many extracurricular activities offered by different societies and colleges. I was attending English language classes, which were extremely helpful, and, as a member of Trevelyan College, I was always welcome to formal dinners, musical performances and other social activities organised by the college common rooms.
While still at Durham I applied successfully for the post of Software Developer for OpenBet Technologies, a software provider for the betting and online gaming industry. I met OpenBet representatives at the Science, Engineering and IT Fair organised by the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre. They answered all of my questions, were interesting and knowledgeable, and simply fun to talk to! I immediately researched the company and its portfolio looked great! I thought it was an excellent opportunity to enter the industry by joining a world-leading company and work together with highly professional and very intelligent people.
The selection process was very straight-forward. I forwarded my CV and about a month later I had my phone interview, during which I was asked mostly technical questions. A few weeks later I was invited to London for my interview, during which I was asked to solve a number of technical problems, and also had an opportunity to speak with representatives from human resources. The interview lasted about 2 hours in total, and I was offered the job on the same day.
As a developer I work closely with solution architects and testers in order to produce a robust code that meets all requirements. Our company provides large scale betting websites, resulting in huge systems that incorporate different modules, protocols, languages and common practises. This requires our code to be compliant with existing standards and delivered according to a project plan.
Online betting is a growing and constantly changing industry which requires solutions to be scalable, extendable and portable. To achieve this I work closely with the customers to extract the necessary requirements of a project and determine the best designs.
Durham University gave me the necessary knowledge base that is essential in my profession. No doubt, the technical skills are the most important part but this alone would not have been enough for me. I regularly need to communicate with the customer, structure arguments, analyse the requirements of a problem and find the optimal solutions. There is a lot of pressure in my job, and I have to be able to cope with this when necessary and feel confident while doing so. I think that studying in Durham University prepared me very well for this.
My advice to current students would be to know your goals and work hard! Don’t think “It’s not for me! I can’t do that, it won’t work out”. Try to think “Let me try it first and see how far I can get”.