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The Graduate Developer Community’s next free event is – ‘Meet A Mentor – Queen Mary, University of London’  on Wednesday 28th March at 6:30pm.

Please see link for details and to sign up –

Meet a Mentor at Queen Mary, University of London

Have you always wondered what you want to do when you graduate?
Are you worried about all the talk of grads finding it hard to find work and what it will mean for you?
Do you want to know the difference between working in a bank, a gaming company or a startup?
What technology should you specialise in? Java, Ruby or any of the other countless programming languages?

Now is the chance to find out. You may well have heard the buzz about the Meet a Mentor event – this is our second event open to all students.

This is a chance for you to meet a variety of senior developers currently working in the industry; you will get a chance to listen to their stories and even ask them questions. It will be a ‘speed dating’ style event in groups of 5-8 with each mentor having 10-15 minutes to tell their story and share their experiences in the industry. We have an amazing line up on presenters, everything from startups to the financial and media industrys, open source enthusiasts, senior developers, entrepreneurs and CTOs. You will also find an experienced recruiter who will be able give you advice and answer your questions regarding your career options, the software industry, job applications and different job positions.

Sign up now to be guaranteed a place at this event.

Here are a few of the mentors you can expect to meet:

Adriaan Coppens, 25 years old, studied Economics combined with a teachers education (certified to give courses in secondary school and has experience talking to students) and afterwards Adriaan did a Master in Finance at Vlerick Business school.

Currently Adriaan is working for Project Brokers, a BI consultancy firm. Adriaan doesn’t have Java or javascript experience. But is able to tell you something valuable about data, big data, business intelligence and the opportunities for developers in those sectors. The opportunities in that sector are enormous in Adriaan’s opinion. Adriaan has recently heard a senior manager at one of the major banks in the world complain that they can’t find capable java programmers for their databases.

Lim Sim was a developer and consultant but now Lim is a tester and is passionate about automation and improving quality. To keep things interesting Lim also develops Android applications and provides test consulting services.

Mike Laming is a keen programmer and startup enthusiast. During Mike’s computer science degree he spent 13 months working for Sun Microsystems, then co-founded a Y-Combinator funded startup which took him to Silicon Valley. Since being back in the UK (and finishing his degree!) Mike has worked in a variety of tech roles and now leads the development effort at Enternships, a company which aims to get students and graduates working in entrepreneurial startups and SMEs.

Dave Snowdon is an unashamed geek who’s career has strayed from virtual reality, to mobile platforms, to web application development and finally virtual desktop infrastructure. He’s worked at places with as few as 2 people and as many as 11,000. When not at work he spends time with a motley collection of robots and messing with languages such as python and clojure.

Steve Souza is a Java developer with database expertise. He is currently working at Datameer as a developer that helps write the Datameer product, which is in the Big Data space.  The product is built on top of Hadoop and it let’s people easily interact with Hadoop data in a manner that is similar to working with Excel spreadsheets. Previous to Datameer Steve ran his own company and created an innovative patent-pending visualization product called LiquiMap, which allows analysts to easily see patterns
in large datasets. Previous to that he worked as a Principal Consultant at Sybase. He is also the creator of two open source projects.  The most popular is JAMon which allows developers to monitor their java applications for performance, exceptions and many other things.   The other project is called FormattedDataSet and it allows developers to easily render tabular data in different formats. He would love to help students get started in their careers.  He loves teaching and mentoring and has a relaxed approachable style.  Both parties are rewarded in a mentor relationships, so he also hopes to learn about different viewpoints and experiences too.

Charles Wicksteed – After a degree in Electronics and a few years of hardware design, Charles Wicksteed worked for many years for a large software house as a designer and developer of large software systems, mostly using C and then Java. Charles tended to work mostly on fault tolerance, disaster recovery, performance, scalability and networking as much as on the application functionality.

John Patrick is a Java Contractor, graduated from Bournemouth University, 2:i BSc (Hons) Computer in 2003. His placement year was spent using Microsoft Embedded technologies but since then has focused on Java. Currently working as a lead java resource within RBS in Angel, previous Friends Life, London Cycle Hire and before that several secure government projects.

John Stevenson – Having done most jobs in the IT world, John has many tails of joys and sorrow. He is currently coaching teams in effective practices, helping build communities for fun & profit, and discovering Clojure by trying to teach others the joy of functional programming –

Martin Gladdish started out almost 12 years ago as a Java programmer and now finds himself running the programming department, dealing with all the pieces that go together to produce great software. You would have thought he had it worked out by now…

Please see link for details and to sign up –

This post is part of a series of questions that have been asked at previous GDC Meet a Mentor events. For the complete list of questions please see this link

Q: Why do most people fail interviews?

The two big reasons I would say why people fail interviews are a lack of suitable preparation and an inability to communicate effectively. Both are relatively simple to put right.

Firstly preparation is easy. You have to start by genuinely thinking about what you want to get out of your career and whether this company is going to be the right one for you. When you start thinking about what you honestly care about it leads to interesting questions:

– What will my day-to-day role be?
– What is the team like? Are they like me?
– Will I be doing the same role in a year? two years? five years?
– Will the company still be going in a year? two years? five years?

There are a lot more questions that will come up, the key is to think about what YOU really care about?

Your preparation should be around trying to answer all of these questions before you go to the interview. Look at the job spec, the blogs, the website, linkedin to see the people that work there. See what you can find out about them, you will definitely be able to find out answers to a few of your questions. You should be left with questions that:

a) you genuinely care about, and
b) you can’t answer yourself

The interview should be a two way thing, not just a chance for you to impress the employer. When you go to the interview you will find that you feel less nervous, because you want to find out these answers.

Secondly if you have some serious and interesting questions then the employer can see that you are bright, that you do care about the interview and your career.

Finally the employer will want to answer your questions, effectively selling the company to you. Whenever anyone sells to you, they are trying to make you like them, naturally building rapport.

To communicate effectively, you should also prepare on yourself. Have a look through this developer careers post on preparing for interviews for more help in this area –

Good luck!


This post is part of a series of questions that have been asked at previous GDC Meet a Mentor events. For the complete list of questions please  see this link

The GDC Meet a Mentor events are being organised and run in association with the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

It was a bit of a MaM fest yesterday.

We had our pilot event at 9:00 in Queen Mary, University of London as part of their Computer Science course. I then gave a 7 minute lightning talk on the Meet a Mentor program which should be showing here at some point soon.

It was a great pilot event. Exactly as I had imagined it, which in itself is a surprise given the amount of things that could have gone wrong. We had about 50 students spread between 6 groups over two rooms, 10 mentors turned up on the day and it was an extremely interesting and rewarding event. We all got a lot of positive feedback from those in attendance and hope that we have helped plant a few seeds for the students that attended to start their own research.

We were asked many things from advice on CVs and Interviews to what positions existed in the industry and even how to get funding and staff for a startup project. It was great to see a good range of questions. I was personally surprised at how many people weren’t looking for a programming position also the general pessimism of the job market.

I’m going to try to take every question that was asked and add blog posts about them periodically at Developer Careers.

We have our next event this evening:


Hi all,

Getting some real momentum with the GDC Meet a Mentor program. Here is a quick update:

– We have two events confirmed for next week, both with sufficient support.
– We now have 60 mentors and regular new members signing up.
– We have a date at UCL in April soon to be announced, we have been in initial discussions with Middlesex and City University.
– We are waiting to hear back from LSE, Brunel and Imperial

We’ll keep you all posted. If you’re interested in getting more involved let me know:

Barry Cranford

What is the GDC?

The GDC, or Graduate Development Community is an independent community of undergraduate software developers. Our goal is to bridge the gap between the worlds of Academia and Business. We organise and host presentations and events with senior members of the development community as well as offering advice, guidance, internships and jobs through our community site.