Louise Heeney

Louise Heeney

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

I am working for a company called Juniper Networks. They are a multinational company who develop IT network devices including routers, switches and security devices for Internet Service Providers and data centres. 

What is your role within the company?

I am working in the pre-sales office in Amsterdam. This contains the Proof of Concept (PoC) centre where engineers will simulate a network problem a customer is having, then demonstrate a solution for them using Juniper Networks products. I started my placement with the PoC team, where I learned about networking. I am now working with a software development team who create and maintain tools to be used both within the company and externally. 

Can you please give me an insight into a typical day?

A typical day starts with a 10 minute standing meeting with my team, where we share what we worked on yesterday and what we plan to do today. I will then work on whatever project I have been assigned, be it writing or testing code. Most work is done individually, but my team are friendly and approachable if I have any questions. Every two weeks we have a team meeting to discuss whether we have reached all our goals, and we plan targets for the next two weeks with time estimates for each task. 

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

I have enjoyed learning completely new skills in a new environment. I've also enjoyed the independence of the self-directed nature of my internship, where I can work on projects which interest me and also benefit the company. 

In one embedded systems project I programmed a raspberry pi to display monitoring information on a screen in the main lab. It shows the power consumption, temperature and the devices in each rack in the lab. It's really satisfying seeing my work on display, where it is used on a daily basis by the lab technicians.

I'm now writing end-to-end tests for a new loans tool which was developed by my team. The test automates the process of using the loans application in your browser, interacting with it as a user would and looking for bugs in the software. Some tests I've written have now been merged into production, so now every time a feature is added to the application, my tests will run to test the software.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I wanted to undertake a year in industry to broaden my horizons and gain experience in a professional setting. I had never had an engineering-related job so I thought it would give me an edge when applying for graduate roles if I had more projects to discuss in interviews. I was particularly interested in this placement as it gave the opportunity to live abroad for a year.

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far? 

Before starting the placement I hadn't studied networking at all, so it was all very new to me. Working with software developers has hugely improved my confidence in coding. I've been exposed to current technologies like containerisation with Docker, automation with Ansible, end-to-end testing of software with Protractor. I've also had opportunities to be hands-on with virtual machine management in a datacentre setting, which would not be possible at University. I think this industry awareness for hot topics will come in useful when I'm applying for jobs in future. Being in a professional environment, I've focused more on my personal development, and my communication and self-direction have improved as a result.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

I would definitely recommend taking a year in industry. Even if the placement is not in the exact field you want to work in, by being in at the deep end you learn so many transferable skills which will prepare you technically and professionally for life after university.