The University of Southampton

Student interns scrum down for the summer at Micro Focus

Published: 
4 September 2012
Illustration

Three ECS Computer Science students – James Brierley, Patrick Naish, and Anton Smyrnov, have spent the summer working in Newbury as Interns with Micro Focus, an internationally leading provider of enterprise application modernization, testing and management solutions.

ECS-Electronics and Computer Science encourages all its students to undertake internships during their summer break and there are many opportunities open to them from the large number of companies with which ECS is involved through its career and employability initiatives. Internships provide students with a wide range of experience of different companies and styles of working during their degree programme and help them gain important insights into the workplace.

During their internships the students have had the opportunity to work as part of a project team at Micro Focus and to experience processes new to them which will add to their ability to understand the importance of their coursework. The students reflect here on their experiences:

"The internship at Micro Focus involved working on a web-based IDE currently being maintained and supported by IBM that enables developers to program on the web (http://orion.eclipse.org)" (writes Anton Smyrnov). "Although currently it mainly supports web-based languages and scripts and is still in its initial development stages, our goal was to write a plugin for COBOL (used primarily for business applications) with a goal of integrating into it as many Eclipse-like features as possible. “Our team was composed of five student interns and two supervisors with everyone being equally engaged in the whole development process. We were following a Scrum approach towards software development which is used across all the teams at Micro Focus. Every week, a new Scrum-master was chosen by the previous one, and he/she was involved in managing the estimations of tasks for the current iteration, making sure that everyone updated their progress on the tasks, and conducting daily Scrum meetings. Since the beginning of the internship, everyone has had a chance to be in this role which enhanced our understanding of agile software development and provided very useful practical experience. “Particular attention has been paid to rigorous testing, which was somewhat new to some of us, as it involved writing not only JUnit but also GUI tests with Silk. The tests helped us to spot a lot of bugs and we have come to appreciate how important they are for releasing stable feature-complete software.

“Apart from work, Micro Focus organized socials for us where we had a chance to meet other interns and recently-employed graduates, as well as to get to know each other better. Also, every intern has had a weekly one-to-one meeting with a supervisor where we could discuss any impressions, thought or concerns of the past week. Micro Focus is definitely a company that cares about their employees’ feelings and wants them to enjoy their time in the workplace."

Patrick Naish commented: “We're now in our final week at Micro Focus - it's gone surprisingly quickly. Our presentation went well, despite being to an unexpectedly large crowd (including the CEO). Our project is now pretty much feature-complete, and we're on our last day of bugfixes. The next two days will be spent on "spikes", where we investigate side-projects to the main one. There are some plans to deploy what we've done on the company's own forums - and potential applications as an education tool. Overall it has been a very useful experience, and we really appreciate the organisation and support given by our managers Chris Whitty and Sam Prophet. We'd recommend an internship at Micro Focus for anybody interested in getting experience working in a Scrum process.”

Richard Levy, Director of Development Operations, commented: “Micro Focus is delighted with the enthusiasm, talent and energy of this year’s summer Interns which was reflected in the quality and completeness of the solution they produced.

"Interns at Micro Focus work together in single scrum team focused on a specific technical challenge rather than through separate individual placements in our permanent teams. This has proved to be a very productive and rewarding way of working for everyone concerned; providing experience throughout the agile lifecycle and allowing the interns to see their work through to fruition in a completed project. Aside from the obvious technical skill it was rewarding to see strong teamwork, excellent presentation skills and a real desire to deliver a quality solution.

"We have enjoyed hosting this year’s team and sincerely hope we will work with them all again in the future along with a new intake next summer.”

The interns are pictured here: (l-r): Chris Whitty, Samantha Prophet (Micro Focus supervisors), Anton Smyrnov (ECS), Ben Morris, Richard Peach (Univ. of Cambridge interns), James Brierley, Patrick Naish (ECS)

The ECS Careers Fair 2013 will take place on Tuesday 12 February, when around 70 of the UK’s leading technology employers will be able to engage with students studying Computer Science, IT in Organisations, Electronics and Electrical Engineering in ECS. Places are still available at the Fair. For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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