First Week Graduate Training at BidFX

TDD training offsite. That’s me in the corner.

TDD training offsite. That’s me in the corner.

As new graduates we had little idea what would await in the first week of our careers. To tell the truth, we didn’t really know what to expect of working at BidFX. The graduates in this year’s intake first interviewed at BidFX some ten months before joining this September. We each came with differing recollections of the office and the day to day expectations of a developer. Having just completed four years education in Computer Science we were somewhat surprised to be sent straight back into learning.

On arriving at the office, we were immediately greeted by a friendly face and taken around to be introduced to the whole company. We had been allocated to teams before joining based on our particular background and experience so we split up and went to meet our new team mates and started setting up our working environments. The first challenge was to configure the controls of our adjustable standing desks to find the optimum ergonomic height for sitting and typing, or standing to stretch the legs and collaborate with other members of the team.

After a lunch break in the tiny, but lovely park on Victoria embankment we headed to a training session with our CTO. He taught us about the history and mechanics of FX trading as well as the types of trades and currencies we would encounter. Our degree courses had given us varying levels of knowledge of Fintech but none had prepared us for the specific deal types, strategies and product data requirements of foreign exchange trading.

We didn’t have too much time to get comfortable in our new workspaces as on day two the graduates, along with some more seasoned developers, were booked for training at an off-site office space in the City. The two day course, led by industry veteran Kevlin Henney, focused on the best practices for automated testing when developing. We spent time discussing the pros and cons of a developer testing their own code, as well as learning the importance of good teststructure and naming. All things our collective years of university education had failed to teach us. The tutor had various anecdotes and case studies which proved the value of automated testing and good test design. After a lunch break we continued with some more discussion and exercises based on what we had spoken about that morning.

After a ‘tough’ day learning we headed to the pub to have a drink with our new colleagues and the training course tutor so we had a chance to hear more storiesof testing gone wrong (and perhaps enjoy a bit of schadenfreude). Following this we were treated to a posh Italian dinner and cocktails in a restaurant near Kings Cross courtesy of the company. This was our chance to chat to others about how they had found the day and what we could expect from working at BidFX.

The second day of training started with a little more coffee than the first, but despite the tiredness we were keen to get started on the most important aspect of the course: Test Driven Development. We were taken through the process and the importance of writing tests alongside and before code. Most importantly we learnt that a thorough, careful approach leads to a better overall result and less time wasted debugging. Over the two days we had been pair programming with various members of the development team and as such had worked directly with some of the company’s most experienced programmers. As a result we had learnt about some of the systems and services that we would be working on in a few weeks, as well as the style of programming used at BidFX. We returned to the office on Thursday with a renewed enthusiasm in unit testing and test driven development and spent the remainder of the week exploring the code and the products we would be working on.

The importance of continuously improving development practices was clear to us from the outset. As technology evolves our processes and skills need to keep up. BidFX foster employee development through training and coworking. It was fascinating to sit in the same room as our seniors and see they are just as open to learning new techniques and challenging their practices and as fresh graduates. Continuous learning is part of the culture at BidFX. In addition to scheduled group courses for TDD and suchlike the company provide all staff with a budget to spend on their personal career development. We are all keen to get started on proper development work now so that we can try out the new things we learned and look forward to a lot more training in the future.

Nick Pearson – Graduate Developer