Jamie Howard

Computer Science with a Year in Industry

There’s lots of space there, everything is well-equipped and you can always find somewhere quiet when you need to concentrate.

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I actually came here to study Maths and completed the first year but realised it wasn’t for me. It was very heavy on theory with no obvious real-world application. But computer Science seemed like a good compromise: it had a lot of technical content, which I do enjoy, but with the year in industry you get to experience the real world and see theories being applied – that clinched it for me.

How is the course going?

Really well. The first two years were very good, and now I’m back for the final year the step up in the intensity of the work is noticeable – but the year in industry has helped prepare me for this; without it I think this last year would be a struggle. But I feel much better at time management, keeping to deadlines and so on.

What’s the level of support like in your studies?

It’s excellent. In the first two years I found lecturers to be very approachable and I often emailed for help and received prompt replies – even though I didn’t always send them in office hours. Now, in this last year, we work on a group project rather than a dissertation, and have weekly meetings with our supervisor; but they are always available at other times too. I think none of the supervisors have more than a couple of projects each to look after, so they’re never swamped and are always able to help.

What is this project?

We’re building an Android app that tracks the buses on campus; then you can upload your own timetable of activities and work out your journeys. I think it has potential for Kent students and it would be great to see it go live.

How was your year in industry?

It was good – and different to what I had expected. I was working with Accenture and had anticipated being given purely technical tasks, but in fact had a great diversity of roles – some involving things I’d never done before, including project management, which was very interesting and involved more ‘soft’ skills, such as dealing with people. It was quite a challenging year but I was always working alongside another team member so had good training. Projects I worked on with Accenture included six months with EDF Energy, which was hectic and intense, and two months with Discovery.

What kind of career do you hope to follow when you graduate, and why?

I haven't thought too much about specific industries I would like to go into. Most of my work at Accenture was with web development, which I really enjoyed. The app development I’m doing now is new to me so quite challenging, but enjoyable. I'm hoping that if I go back to Accenture I will be able to give both things a try in the real world.

What’s the accommodation on campus like?

It’s very good. I lived in Park Wood for my first year and shared a five-bedroom house with students of roughly the same age and interests. We became good friends and I’ve gone on to rent with them off campus.

What are the facilities like on campus?

For work, because the library is being renovated, I tend to stay within the School of Computing. But there’s lots of space there, everything is well-equipped and you can always find somewhere quiet when you need to concentrate. Socially there’s so much going on – more than enough, in fact! I wish I had more time to make use of it all.

What do you do in your spare time?

I work at a computer shop in Canterbury that specialises in Apple products, and I play drums in several bands, including the University’s Big Band.

Any advice for students coming to Kent?

People always say make the most of these years – and this is so true. It can seem daunting meeting so many new people and finding like-minded students, so I’d say definitely get involved in any societies that pique your interest.