Sean Holden

Sean Holden

Final year project: Developing an HTML5 Information Visualization Toolkit

Why did you decide to study your particular course?

I wanted to work with computers but was not sure how I would find the more technical aspects in terms of understanding and difficulty. I chose Information Technology as it did not seem quite as technical as Computer Science, but still seemed like a worthwhile degree to have, especially in today’s technology filled world. 

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

It has a great reputation as one of the best universities in the country. I also wanted to stay fairly close by to my home city of Manchester so it was an ideal choice.

What was the best aspect of the course/the University and why?

The best aspect of the university is the fact that everything is in one place, on one campus. The union and all the shops, the societies, bars, etc. They are all just a stone’s throw away from the study areas and lecture theatres. Getting around is really easy because of this. 

As for the course itself, the best aspect for me was the computing facilities. All computers have two monitors and run the Linux operating system which is great for all course modules. Particularly programming. The main computer lab is open 24/7 which was ideal for times when I needed to stay late to finish coursework and complete my final year project.

What other activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

Leeds is extremely social, I made a lot of friends while there, had plenty of nights out and joined a few societies. Obviously the computing society was one, but I also tried my hand at activities that I had not tried before, such as archery and indoor surfing as well as others.

What are you doing now, what does your job involve?

I am now a web applications developer for a startup company in Leeds, which is ironic to say that the technical side of the course is what worried me to begin with and is what put me off studying computer science. It turns out I love programming, particularly for the web. I only discovered this while on my year placement at the mobile phone giant Telefonica/O2 and my passion for coding has grown from there. Now I am earning money to do what I enjoy, which for me was the ultimate goal of going to university to begin with!

How did your course help/how will it help your future career?

My course gave me a great foundation in the broad field that is Information Technology. It covered a wide range of topics that could lead to a number of careers. My year in industry was invaluable and having that on my CV is a massive boost in terms of impressing potential employers. In fact, it was that experience that led me into my current position. The degree itself is obviously important but the experience is the thing that sets me apart from the rest.

What would you say to students thinking about coming to do the same course?

Unless you already have experience in the field, do the year in industry. It may seem like a long time, but it is a fantastic experience, both in terms of work and social. It allows you to return to university for your final year feeling more confident and knowledgeable than ever and looks great on your CV. It is a taster of what you will be getting yourself into after you graduate. Also, it can help you make your mind up on your chosen career.