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I recently sat down with Junior Software Engineer at Tillo, Gerome Braddock, to find out how his love of coding began, what led him to Tillo, and what advice he’d give to someone looking for their first software engineering role.
Gerome is almost as big a fan of Tillo as he is of coding - although it might have something to do with the regular Thursday pub lunch trips…
He’s a great guy and despite being at an early stage in his career, Gerome has already accomplished a lot. As part of the dev team at Tillo, he has worked on a wide range of projects, including driving the implementation of our new reporting service, enhancing the onboarding process, and much more!
I really enjoyed chatting to him and finding out more about his engineering journey.
I remember when I was quite young, actually, I must have been about 9 or 10, my mum saying that they were getting a business to redo their website. She said that the developer spoke the languages of computers. And I was like “the language of computers - computers have their own languages?” That’s so mind-blowing. It was that moment that got me really interested in coding. I’d spend weekends holed up in my room just playing with code and testing things out.
So I did coding as part of my GCSE and A levels, and then ended up in the University of Brighton to study Computer Science. From there, I managed to get an internship with one of my lecturers, at one of his companies. Then I met a good friend of mine in the internship, and we both ended up doing the same Masters in AI at the University of Sussex.
I think the thing that struck me the most was probably the company's culture. You can just see from the website, and obviously when you're looking for a job, you go through all the social media posts - and it really struck me as the kind of company that was not just trying to build something fantastic, but to generate a really nice culture of friendly, welcoming people.
Even as the company continues to grow so fast, it really doesn’t seem that there’s been a bad hire. Every new person that comes in really fits with Tillo. Everyone gets on, and the platform we’re building seems to be built in a really easy way, without any kind of conflict - which has been a definite issue in the past when I’ve worked for other companies where some people could be quite standoffish or sensitive over discussions.
Everything gets done in such an open way, and whatever their level, people are very open to discussions and new ideas. Even as a Junior Engineer, I’m welcome - and even encouraged - to challenge the status quo. It’s just a great way to work in tech, and so important.
So obviously as a Software Engineer, my favourite thing is coding! I can kind of deal with meetings, but luckily as a junior I don’t get pulled into too many meetings. I like the fact that I’m able to get the requirements from people and discuss what needs to be done. And then once everything's kind of settled and planned, I can then go off and just smash out all the code, which is one of my favourite things to do, with some good music! It's really enjoyable - as nerdy as that sounds.
I also feel I’ve been given a lot of responsibility in terms of designing and making sure everything works properly - and been encouraged to make decisions - which is great. It’s all about making the most of it and trying to find a really smart way to do something. Even if you're in a junior role, Tillo gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself, prove yourself as a software engineer, and really try to grow as much as you can.
So typically, we have the same meeting every single morning at half nine, which is the “stand-up” where essentially you go over what you've done the day before, and share what you plan on doing today. If there’s any kind of hindrance that's holding you up, you share it with the rest of the engineering team to see if you can resolve that.
Some days, I don’t have a single meeting, other than the stand-up and catching up with my manager to check in and see how we’re doing. So I’d be mostly cracking on with my tasks. But it can vary - other days, there’s more scheduled in. I think a couple of days ago was my busiest day ever that was full of planning meetings, making sure we're on the right track. I also just had my chance to interview my first candidate, which is really exciting!
My schedule also depends on if I'm in the office or not; if I'm in the office on a Thursday, the whole company goes to the pub for some lunch, which is really nice. Something to look forward to throughout the week! It’s nice to have the flexibility to work from home but I enjoy catching up with people in the office as well.
I'd say probably the most encouraging thing to look at when you're looking for a new hire is just the enthusiasm that a candidate has for the job - even if you have very very little experience. We’re looking for people that have a project and have gone out of their way to work on things in their spare time that are very exciting to them, even if they’re a bit basic at this stage. I’d say the important thing is getting stuff under your belt that you can then go on to show and talk about in interviews, that shows your skills and really shows your enthusiasm for the job.
There's nothing you can't do just by completing projects in your spare time. Come up with it by finding a problem that people have. Try and think of a solution for it, and make that your project. And that's all you need to do.
Final year university projects can really help here too - mine really helped me gain an understanding of AI and how that works. My project was basically writing some software that would start learning the way you typed, learn your habits and recognise whether there was someone on your computer that wasn’t you - and lock them out. And I actually got a prize for best final year development project which was really exciting.
And definitely, definitely do your research about the company because it's really easy to tell when someone knows what they're talking about!
If you’re interested in joining Tillo’s engineering team, please take a look at our open roles here.
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