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Q & A With Archant’s Victoria Holland
Who do you work for?
I work in the Web Team within the Information Systems department at Archant, who are best known locally for publishing the Norwich Evening News and Eastern Daily Press.
What do you do there?
I’m a Java Web Developer. I’m responsible for developing new functionality and page templates for the Polopoly content management system.
What experience, qualifications etc were important in getting the job?
I studied Computing Science at UEA (where I learnt Java as my main programming language), and upon graduating I accepted a temp role at Aviva. I was responsible for data analysis and within a few months I was taken on permanently. I held a variety of roles at Aviva in the 5 years I was there, and I learnt a wide range of IT systems. I also did some web development in my spare time. In my final job at Aviva, I put myself forward to build and maintain the department’s intranet site.
In early 2010, I successfully applied for a front-end development role Archant. In mid-2012 a couple of Java Developer roles became available in my team, so I applied, seeing this as an opportunity to finally begin putting my Java skills to use! Throughout my career I’ve always been passionate about personal development and this was also an important factor in getting the Java Developer role.
What do you like most about the job?
I enjoy the sense of satisfaction when completing a project and seeing a new website or feature go live. I feel like I’m constantly learning.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve had to do in your role?
The most challenging project I’ve worked on is moodboard functionality for the English Home website. This will allow users of the site to collate items and create a virtual scrapbook of furniture, wallpapers, fabrics and accessories. We’ve faced many obstacles along the way, both on the server-side and on the front-end. However, I’ve learnt a great deal and I’m now more confident with creating Java controllers and policies for new Polopoly elements and article types.
How do you keep up to date with what’s new?
I follow several tech news websites and blogs. I’m an active member of several Meetup groups in the Norwich area, including Norfolk Developers and SyncNorwich. I also enjoy learning from interactive programming websites such as Codecademy and Learneroo.
If you could go back and do it again, would you still chose the same career path?
Yes, definitely. I enjoy my job and I love technology!
What is your platform of choice?
There are several platforms I like. For desktop, I like Windows 7, Linux Mint or Ubuntu. For mobile devices, my favourite OS is Android.
When you’re fixing a production problem, who goes on your iPod?
I rarely listen to music at work, as it can be distracting and I don’t want to feel too cut off from everyone else. However, if I’m doing a repetitive task which doesn’t require much thinking, occasionally I bring my MP3 player and listen to dance music.
Cat or dog?
What gives you a nerdgasm?
Learning about new technology.
What do your family think of what you do?
They don’t really understand it! However, they are happy that I’m doing something I enjoy.
How long have you been in technology?
9 years this summer.
How did you get into technology?
I first became interested in technology when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My family’s first computer was a ZX Spectrum. I liked writing BASIC programs to change the colour of the screen and border, and occasionally I copied programs from books and magazines by hand. I especially remember one program which made my name scroll up the screen in different colours.
Do you have any personal pet projects you’d like to tell us about?
For about 10 years or so, I’ve enjoyed creating open source scripts and programs in my spare time. I started off by creating my own blogging script and simple CMS using PHP and MySQL. I also created my own HTML templates and WordPress themes. More recently I’ve been learning to create native Android apps in Java and I developed my own mobile game. My personal projects are on GitHub under the username JavaDevVictoria.
How do you see your part of the industry changing in the next 5 or 10 years?
I think that traditional newspaper sales will continue to decline, and people will increasingly read and interact with the news online. I feel mobile news apps and responsive websites will be a growth area.
I have a first-generation Nintendo Wii – I especially like the features it has for keeping fit, and it is good for casual gamers.
Favourite computer game?
I enjoy playing match-3 games on my phone and tablet. Last year I was a big fan of Candy Crush Saga, but there was a level I simply couldn’t get past and this led to me losing interest in it. So I’ve moved on to other match-3 games now, such as Frozen Free Fall.
Words: Victoria Holland