As a soon-to-be graduate, I asked my friends what to expect when starting a full-time job. Their answers were, unfortunately, mostly negative. They talked about some previous negative experiences, where they were given limited autonomy or personalisation in their role. This honesty pushed me to look for a job in a company that not only had values I could live by, (Curiosity, Humility, Integrity and Collaboration) but to join a team I could rely on and enjoy being a part of.  

Before I started working at AL, I had spent 6 months at a job that, on paper, would be considered a great catch. I could travel abroad, I was working in the same field as my degree, and initially, it seemed fun and challenging.

A perfect opportunity for someone that just came out of University. So, why am I at AL? 

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to”. Richard Branson

I joined the AL Academy, a 12-week course that trains STEM graduates to become Junior DevOps Consultants. The number of opportunities open to me after the Academy was an exciting prospect a door to a new chapter in my life. There was more than just tools and technologies to learn during the course of the Academy; the concept of DevOps, the importance of Agile methodology and how to accept failure as a means of growing. There was a strong emphasis on putting people, processes and culture at the forefront of everything we do, something we call ‘The AL Way’.

In my day-to-day work life I’ve seen 4 core things that shape AL as a business:

Technical Competence

Right from the get-go, we were taught a broad range of DevOps practices, tools and technologies with consistent assignments to check we were meeting standards. The skills we learnt along with a mindset of continuous learning and blame-free failure gave me the abilities needed to work on the AL Cloud Platform — a platform we created with our AWS partners adopting best practices. It addresses key challenges clients face in their adoption of a Cloud and Automation strategy.

These skills helped while embedding myself on a major central government project. Soon enough, from the first day, I was pushing out code changes. It was a seamless transition.

Responsibility

I hate being micromanaged. I mean who doesn’t? In my opinion, it’s an archaic way of ensuring employees are being “productive”.

Thankfully, I never feel that at AL.

I have been given responsibility to handle, maintain and constantly improve the construction of working environments for the teams to develop and test on. I love to learn and what better way to learn cloud technology than to configure, rebuild and test components through automation.

A typical conversation between me and my lead engineer:

Me: “Can I apply these network security rule changes? It may cause some problems in this  environment.”

Lead: shrugs “Do it. If it breaks, you can fix it!”

Me: “ Don’t worry! I’ll take full responsibility!”

Lead: “That’s what I like to hear!”

I learnt as quickly as I could and asked as many questions as I could think of (after Google had failed me, that is). In turn, this has lead to a feeling of being valued and belonging – and bucket-loads of appreciation.

Lessons to be learnt here:

The feeling of being overwhelmed will be there at first, but in time as you grow, that feeling quickly disappears and is replaced with an unwavering self-confidence boost.

To embrace making mistakes and failing! Part of my responsibility is to freely, and humbly, ask for help. Accept that making mistakes doesn’t cripple you, but in fact empowers you to overcome inadequacy. Everyone at AL is genuinely understanding people who implement the mantra “Build, Measure, Learn” into their character!

Communication

Talking, liaising, negotiating, contributing across all teams are all parts of what envelops the ideology of DevOps. A requirement for security features? Talk to the security team. A requirement for architectural changes? Talk with the architect team. There is always a need to effectively communicate with our clients, this doesn’t mean a need to be the loudest person at the table. At AL, there is an openness to all opinions with no opinion being dismissed, and this has boosted my self-confidence ten-fold.

Fostering an environment to allow graduates to openly ask questions is difficult to achieve but the results are tremendous — Project Managers will be left amazed at how creative and passionate a graduate can be when they are allowed to let their thoughts flow. AL succeed in this flawlessly.

Personal Development

This is so key to a graduate starting off in a workplace. Is my employer investing in me? What’s available? Is it tailored to fit my development? Can I request for a specific training programme?

“In the future, everyone here will achieve amazing things. That’s the culture we want, one that lets people grow.” — Kris & Norm, our founding partners in their latest blog post

True to their word they have been!

A career progression programme has been set up, based on the regular one-to-ones we have with our delivery manager; time off to study for qualifications; and a new programme called “Above and Beyond” to develop our leadership potential.

These are just some of the points working alongside some of the brightest engineers and an amazing supportive management team — make working at AL a dream place to be.

I have been at AL for nearly 18 months and, boy, what a transformative journey it has been!

This is what makes AL different.