Jonathan, Cambridge, Computer Science

Casebooks Jonathan

Part way through my first year at Cambridge, it occurred to me that a 3-month summer was looming ahead of me, and that I should probably fill it somehow. Fortunately, around this time, I received an email informing me that Ensoft were looking for interns, and would be interviewing in Cambridge in a couple of weeks. At this stage, one of the most appealing things to me was that they just required a CV, as opposed to many other companies which had vast online forms to fill out. Within a few days, I heard back that I had been given an interview... which it turned out I couldn't make, but Ensoft obligingly rescheduled instantly.

The interview itself was incredibly relaxed, consisting of a short test, and a couple of informal chats. At the time I assumed that I couldn't have got the job after such an easy process, but I turned out to be wrong, and it was simply indicative of how friendly the environment at Ensoft really was; and of course they got back to me within a few weeks with the good news.

Before arriving in Harpenden, a daunting but necessary task was finding somewhere to live whilst down there; as the 4-hour commute from North Yorkshire seemed a little unappetising to me. Helpful as ever, Ensoft sent over information on where to look for places to stay, and kindly offered to check out any places for us if we didn't have time to visit; an offer which I was very grateful to accept! I was thus able to arrive in Harpenden, safe in the knowledge that I was staying in a good house and had a 4-minute walk to work each day.

On arrival for my first day I was introduced to Ben, the other intern, and the others who I would be working with. This, an explanation of our projects, and being told that we could arrive at work "by 10ish" each day dispensed all of my little doubts that I'd had, and I could look forward to a Summer of interesting work and not too much compromise on lie-ins!

To start with I was given my own project to work on, EnDroid, which allowed bots to be built for chatrooms, based on a simple plugin interface. This gave me the opportunity to experience software development from the concept to the finished product, with experienced help at hand for every step. In the end this ended up being made open source on Launchpad. After this I was transferred to work with Ben on an Ensoft internal project that last year's interns had started; giving a decent flavour of team-work and the joys of the "merge" feature of version control software!

One of the best parts of the experience was how much help we were given, so we always knew we were on the right track with our work; and constantly learning how to do things better. Just two seats down from me was our mentor for the summer, and meetings with our manager often turned into very interesting supervisions on software and networking! As if this help wasn't enough, each member of the company had their own area of expertise, and was always willing to take time out to help with specific language issues, or means of authentication, etc, so we were never too stuck on a problem for long.

Outside of work, Ensoft organised a series of social events during our time there, including go-karting, company cricket, a summer party, and a Scottish party, which we were always invited along to and gave us a chance to relax with our colleagues. Alongside this were company meals, very regular pub trips, jacket potatoes on Tuesdays, cooked breakfasts on Thursdays and the surprisingly contentious question of where to eat on Fridays. The frequency of social events is highly reflective of the general feel of the company as a friendly place where people happen to work; rather than a pressured working environment.

For someone with friends in or around London, Harpenden is a great location. You get to live in a small quiet town, but still be less than half an hour on the train from the city; and chances are that late at night you'll find it easier to get home than your London friends, with trains running significantly later than the tube!

Ensoft are a great company to work for, and I really enjoyed my time there. The work was interesting, the people were friendly, supportive and helpful, and the location is convenient. I would highly recommend them for a fulfilling, educational and enjoyable internship.