A TJ Placement Diary: By Aaron FryerAgency Insight
Aaron is a third year Web Design & Development student and an aspiring Astronaut. He got the opportunity to work with us following a chance encounter at Meetdraw: The Sizzle.
Here’s what he thought about it…
I worked at TJ for 4 days to gain some industry experience whilst studying. It opened my eyes to the unique characteristics of the working environment of a digital agency. TJ is unique in that it’s an integrated digital marketing agency which means there’s a variety of different job areas from designers to developers and even film producers. I got the opportunity after meeting Matt Leach (Head of Development) at Meetdraw. I endured two interviews and a small test and after I completed the test they offered the placement.
Being new to me, on the commute in to my first day on placement I was trying to imagine what it would be like.
I spent most of the time on the train trying to somehow ‘prepare’ myself but during the first hour after my arrival I quickly learned how dynamic the working environment was. Initially I was going to spend the day getting to know the team and shadow them but instead I got to peruse their designs and work collaboratively with them. There is no better opportunity to get to know a team than working with them.
This didn’t feel like a standard 9-5 day job – my first day was intriguing and fun. The atmosphere was brewing with chatter from people collaborating and sharing ideas around me over the background ambient music. The different teams were moving around and working together which demonstrated their integrated nature.
The team that I worked with had their own pod in the office: Alan, Bystrik, Guy, Matt, Paul and Tim. Alan was a Digital Marketer – an interesting guy that loves a Chicken Caesar Salad. Bystrik, Matt, Paul and Tim are the developer team that develop the front end and back end of client websites. They were really fun to work with and I learned so much from them in just 4 days. Guy is the Digital Director and he focuses on designs, with a real eye for detail. He always strived for pixel perfect design and it was refreshing to see someone with such a passion for the details.
My first day was focused on developing the front end for a design I was given that morning. It was initially daunting but I threw myself at it and started making some real progress with it. I decided not to just use their resource but tried my best to work in their style of development as well. Adding to their existing resources and adopting their file structure and the technologies they used.
Today was a continuation of yesterday’s task. I started the day by trying to finish the page and focusing really which kicked the day off well and I could feel that there was a strong sense of camaraderie in TJ.
That day we had a 1:45pm deadline to have a visual prototype ready for the client and this was my first experience of real pressure. Paul was working on some functionality to add to the prototype – he provided the basic parts and I had to bring it together and work out how to achieve it which was my first big challenge.
We finished a basic prototype with most of the page completed and I was given a new task of turning the prototype into a WordPress theme with the content loaded into it. This was designed to test my backend development skills so to complete this task I had to research the subject area and create the solution on my own (mostly).
Wednesday left me feeling like there was always going to be a flow of new challenges in this environment. I realised that I relished challenges and I always looked forward to the next one. An Agency is a place where new challenges will come up and you need to be prepared to face them. I like that.
This day started out like any other day, sunshine and lovely weather (yeah, don’t look at me like that) and an office flood. I came in that morning and it was dark, Matt was holding a ceiling tile and the cleaners were attempting to dry the place up. I tried to set up my laptop but as soon as I plugged in my laptop SPARKS went flying.
The dev team had a deadline so the ever resourceful Matt decided to move the team to work somewhere safely and remotely. The Pub (I know, awesome right?). We set up on the bottom floor and organised ourselves so the people who needed power urgently got plugs. I was partial to a game of rock paper scissors myself. Then we got our first unlimited refill coffees and got to work, today I focused on my task.
To complete my task from yesterday I had to occasionally (and bravely) ask for help. The guys got me on to the right track and advised me of ways not to do silly things (which comes with the territory when you’re getting started). By the late afternoon I had completed the task, I didn’t get drunk (I should have), and decided to work on other projects until the end of the day.
This change of environment was fun and the pace of the work from the dev team was upheld. If anything the unfortunate set of circumstances spurred them on!
The last day was a sad day because I had to go but also because it was time for ‘Man Vs really, really, old CMS’. It was the most challenging piece of work I have ever been given. The first part of the task was to get it to work but by the end of the day it wasn’t working. The system was very convoluted and was poorly documented.
This challenge was given to me to show me the extreme end of the challenges they face and I wasn’t fazed at all, I was urgently trying to get it working and I really enjoyed the difficulty of it. The Tequila photo best describes the vibe and work ethic at Thinking Juice. After the week ended I fully understood the ‘take what you get and work hard’ mantra.
If you want a fun and challenging place to work, Thinking Juice is where it’s at.
You can check out Aaron’s blog here.