You won’t believe these seven unusual things I learned during my placement year at Saffron

Hej! (more on this in a moment)

I’ve just finished my placement year of my engineering degree at Saffron Interactive. But my placement journey began not at Saffron, but a while before that. Having been rejected from a few multinational tech organisations (not going to name any names), I felt deflated and so I decided to venture into a different field: elearning.

eLearning was an alien concept – not so much the invention itself, but in the thought process behind it. It felt for me like an after-thought, something that was regurgitated by companies who didn’t have the time or resources to give their workers or learners their full-fledged attention. Instead they could only afford to sit them down and have them interact with a plethora of meaningless multimedia, hoping that the information was actually being transmitted. How wrong I was. Now I feel proud to say I’ve worked in this industry, especially alongside the pioneers of learning technologies.

With my placement year at Saffron coming to an end, I’ve decided to reflect upon my time and articulate seven things that I learnt here as an engineering student.

1. Technical abilities – “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra

This is perhaps the most obvious one having been brought in as an IT analyst/developer. I’ve managed to enhance my knowledge in a wide array of IT and systems development along with a handful of programming languages.

I can now work comfortably in a solely command line operating system (which I used to think of as being extremely archaic) and have had to construct a networking infrastructure from the ground up – along with having to build an ERP system with my mentor and perform major exports and preservation of terabytes worth of business critical data.

Having been able to apply the theoretical knowledge I’ve gained at university in practice in the workplace has made way for the multitude of ideas and possibilities I’ve been able to demonstrate at Saffron.

2. Danish – that’s right, the language

My placement at Saffron took an unexpected, yet interesting, turn when I was asked to translate a project into Danish. Having no previous knowledge of this language yielded an amusing period of back and forth with the client where I picked up a few words and started blurting out random Danish in the office as if Microsoft Sam had turned Northern European with a slight Asian tinge in his voice (that’s right – that word at the beginning of this post is Danish, and means hello).

Nevertheless, the translation happened, and happened successfully. We were able to release the project and the Danish I had learnt was ultimately appreciated – I’d won the coveted Saffron Star of The Month award for this particular task. Fantastisk!

3. Writing styles… don’t worry, in English

By the time this blog post gets published, I’ll have four pieces of writing lurking around on the internet (three blog posts and an article in the June 2015 issue of the Learning Technologies & Skills magazine). When the first post went up, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would be received. I’ve always enjoyed writing but having had to publish on behalf of an award-winning blog was a completely different ballgame. However, with the support of Saffron’s excellent sales and marketing team, I was given the ability to realise my potential and put my writing to effective use. I didn’t know I could write this emphatically until I was given the opportunity to do so here.

For my second blog post, I felt a little more confident and took what I’d learnt from writing my first post and fused it together with some knowledge of one of my favourite fields of study: artificial intelligence. This post was well received internally and I was then asked to publish it in long-form as a full article.

4. Working in an office environment – no, it’s not like it is in The Office, well…

My only previous experience/knowledge of an office environment came from a TV show – the American rendition of The Office. Literally. So, like elearning itself, I was plonked in a place that’s extremely far outside of my comfort zone. I was hesitant to arrive on my first day here, having no clue what to expect (and hopefully knowing what not to expect after watching The Office).

I was welcomed with open arms and Saffron took me under its gigantic, supportive and benevolent wing. From being a timid personality to one who’s loved (hopefully) around the office, I became a confident person, who’s always there to give a helping hand to anyone who asks. When I did start working here however, in my whimsical head, I began mapping the characters from The Office, in the office. OK, I’ll stop right there.

5. Voice acting (I heard Morgan Freeman needs an understudy)

Again, in order to illustrate the many different baskets I placed my eggs in while at Saffron, this is another of the many that springs to mind. I was asked to project my voice for a character for one of Saffron’s projects – I had a giddiness inside me when I was doing this as I had never done anything like it before.

During this time, I got to learn first-hand about Saffron’s unique style with regards to content creation, script-writing creativity and client liaison. It made an enjoyable change to the regular coding conventions that I was already expecting to be exposed to as a part of the design and development team.

6. Leading and instructing a team (and not abusing that power)

This is another aspect of work I was not expecting to learn during my internship here. Leading in a few consummately paramount IT projects, I was able to successfully demonstrate how to pull together Saffron resources and team members and work through a project right from the requirements stage, straight through to testing, development and design, implementation and the closing stages (some projects had backup disaster recovery plans just because these projects were so significant to Saffron’s IT infrastructure).

7. The vast depths of the mind of Dr Hannibal Lecter

Saffron’s friendly atmosphere (occasionally hostile due to the ongoing football season) made way for an interesting foray into insights in technology, elearning and general social mannerisms. However, due to the team’s superlative interests in American TV dramas, I never knew about the psychology behind Dr Hannibal Lecter’s serpent-like intelligence like I do now, or never had such profound speculative discussions regarding the concurrent seasons of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead (plenty of spoiler alerts are issued at the time).

What I’ve learnt here simply can’t be shortened a seven item list. Given that the amount of knowledge I’ve acquired here far exceeds Saffron’s blog word limit, even four or five publishings will be too little to exemplify the work I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in. Saffron’s pride and the monument that is the training of individuals has been demonstrated here to full effect. I’ve been able to express my thinking, versatility (jack of all trades and master of some), knowledge and skill and have been exposed to a swarm of experiences. Saffron’s erudite induction programme and efficacious mentoring scheme makes way for each new starter, easing them in to the brilliant world of elearning. I’m now a straight talker and a clear thinker.

You think you’ve got what it takes to become a part of Saffron’s team? Why not visit the recruitment page and consider submitting an application.

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About the author

Sagar Mohan - Developer

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