Starting on the 19th of July and lasting for five weeks, I got the opportunity to do some work experience at AKQA London. This was a simply brilliant experience, filled with opportunities to understand and experience how the new media industry operates, from attending client workshops to doing work for some pretty awesome clients.
On my first day, nerves were running considerably high. Seeing as I had never before been in an industry environment I had no idea what to expect, whether I would just be given a brief and told to get on with it or just be left cleaning desks and doing milk-shake runs, but either way it was going to be awesome to be back up at AKQA after two years. Making it there finally after a quick sprint up Farringdon Road I got shown to my desk, which by the way looked the most hardcore programmers desk ever (4 screens + private army of mini ninjas), in the Creative Research & Development department. Then I got to meet some of the people in the CRD team and have a chat to get to know the various roles/titles people occupied. This didn’t make much sense at first as everyone seemed to have ‘Creative Developer’, ‘Director’ or ‘Interactive’ in their title so it took me a while to really understand what people did, and only then did I start questioning why some people had ‘Senior’ in their titles .
Next up on the list was learning Android which was great because this was something I had absolutely no knowledge about. This is something that has rightly been given a lot of attention and I found it a great thing to get experience in, much nicer doing Java than faffing around with Objective-C .
From then onwards things only got better. Nerves went away after a few days and I got to know the team well. My technical knowledge increased immensely, understanding of how projects are managed and structured grew but most importantly, I knew more and more that this is what I wanted to do as a career.
My first piece of work was a Flash piece (thanks Rick!) and it was good to have a break from PHP which had been my focus for the last few months for my new site (site working on it by the way!). This, although only a small project, gave me a good understanding of using OOP in real life applications, working with Creative to deliver it just as it should be, using SVN and gaining a better programming knowledge. Luckily I had a bit of time and someone helping me so I could understand everything that went on and why.
Once that was done it was back to general research and working on my new site with lots of comments coming from my right. The next thing to come would be attending my first client workshop which was pretty damn cool. This showed me a different aspect of the company and how AKQA works it’s magic with its clients. After taking part in this I realised that not only did I enjoy developing software, but I also enjoyed speaking to clients and learning about the preparation that went into these workshops. This made me realise that this is something that I would like to do, instead of just been a developer, but also lead projects and speak/present to clients.
I then worked on a project with Emile. This was the first time I had worked
on a professional application using PureMVC. The good thing with this
project was that I could see what benefit using PureMVC had and what role
each part of the MVC pattern played. I also got to understand how continuous
integration works, what tools like Hudson do, what goes into deploying a
site to live, and finally I at last got to find out what a Technical
Delivery Manager does
Other things that I was lucky enough to be able to go to where the LFPUG event at AKQA and internal presentations on various topics that related to the role of a CRD developer. All interesting stuff and I was lucky to work in a company that have such talented people who are willing to put together all these sessions.
In between all of this I got to know the people in the CRD team a lot better and thanks to Aaron, Abe and everyone else who I met, I learnt a whole load of new stuff in regards to programming, projects, and life at AKQA. This was the best bit of my five weeks, getting to know the team. There was none of this ‘your just and intern clean my desk’ bullshit (except on one occasion, and I’m not doing that again without getting my Hantavirus jabs first :p), I just felt like one of the team and got on with everyone, which was the most important thing for me.
The five weeks I spent at AKQA were simply, brilliant. I had very little in the way of expectations, but I couldn’t of possibly wished for it to have gone any better. Thank you to everyone up there who I met for being unbelievably friendly, helpful and for teaching me an awful lot. Thank you especially to Aaron Newton for being my ‘mentor’ who, despite moaning like an old women 99.01% of the time, taught me a new way of thinking about my projects and helped me out on my work. Cheers
My biggest thank you goes to Andy Hood who made this whole thing possible, for giving me the chance to see what the New Media industry is aboust, meet the people who create the brilliant work that comes out of AKQA, learn a whole load of new stuff, experience all different aspects of the agency, and overall thank you for making me 110% sure that this is what I want to do as a career and also 110% sure that I want to return to AKQA.
I believe I have a dragon that needs returning.
Thank you all so much.
Rick Williams – Blog | Twitter
Dennis Ippel (crazy 3d guy) – Blog | Twitter
Aaron Newton (never let this guy have a plastic dragon) – Site | Twitter
Abe Azam – Blog
Joakim Carlgren (watch out) – Site
Richard Szalay – Blog | Twitter
Tudor Bay – Blog | Twitter
Wanja Stier – Blog | Twitter
SHAKES & FIDGETS – http://s1.sfgame.us/