Published on: 12th July 2019

Frank works with Manchester Metropolitan University to bring Web Development graduates into employment and further their skills in a nurturing environment.

In recent years we have employed three full time web developers, one of whom has progressed to become a Senior Developer at the agency.

Our programme is designed to introduce graduates to real world agency life. We encourage them to learn through doing, and as such, we aim to get them working on live projects as quickly as possible - with one on one help and tutoring from an experienced mentor.

"Within 3 months I had landed my first billable project, where I shared the workload with another Junior Developer, Cameron. Up to this point, I have never worked in parallel with another developer and this showed its challenges as we both had to jump over many hurdles - for example to merge conflicts. Fast forward a few months and I’m now fully independent on projects from the initial project debrief to the finished build."

Umesh Patel, Junior Developer

Read about what our two most recently employed graduate developers, Umesh Patel and Cameron Barnes, thought about the process and how they have settled into agency life at Frank:

Starting at Frank has been an amazing journey as I’ve gone from knowing the basics of PHP to being quite confident with the language and its uses with a CMS. If you told me a year ago, I’d be working with a CMS, I’d have told you there was no chance.

At the very beginning, I was frightened by the idea of working with a CMS as the code looked like a bunch of nonsense. With support from all of Frank's developers, I was able to work on small tasks with frequent support and code reviews to ensure I was on the right path.

As the days went by, the difficulty of the tasks would gradually increase and surprisingly, things were beginning to click - and before you knew it, I could complete a task without any help!

Within 3 months I had landed my first billable project where I shared the workload with another junior developer, Cameron. Up to this point, I have never worked in parallel with another developer and this showed its challenges as we both had to jump over many hurdles - for example to merge conflicts. Fast forward a few months and I’m now fully independent on projects from the initial project debrief to the finished build.

The environment here at Frank is nothing short of incredible and you can say the same for all the staff members here as everyone is super nice and will always try to help you wherever they can.

Everyone here is always looking out for each other, whether it’s providing a second opinion or giving tips. If something doesn’t go to plan and someone needs help, everyone joins in and tackles the problem as a team.

Working here has changed my overall perspective of the web development world. I thought I’d get thrown into the wild but instead, I was slowly settled into the developer I am today.

Developing with the CMS has been wonderful and that has sparked lots of curiosity where I would experiment with building new fancy features at home.

It's been almost a year since joining Frank, and I'll say that things have gone quite well. Others can disagree, just not in my blog post.

I joined straight out of education, in a sort of position where you're not sure what to expect - more so if you're not sure about university in the first place. It started with Digital Media/Marketing, in which I scraped through the first year and started to dread a marketing job in the second. It took 2 weeks of the third year for me to jump ship entirely and, in a fun couple of days, change my degree route transitioning straight into the final year of a Web Development degree. You can do that.

Now reasonably certain that the web was the way to go, I was interviewing from February/March with a handful of different sorts of companies; I recommend that as, without going into detail, you learn what not to say. Obviously, I didn't set out to get any of the jobs and learning how not to frustrate people was the intention the entire time.

Frank seemed like a good choice: I had ideas that I wanted to work in an agency to see a diverse range of work, in a smaller team where I could probably learn a lot, staying in Manchester seemed as safe a bet as and, the entire process seemed very open, one which I was comfortable in. Yes, Frank were the first actual offer I received. Call me a (Junior) Web Developer.

Given a year, a lot has also moved on the development side (thankfully, otherwise we'd have a problem). That all picked up quite quickly, and before you know it you've learnt something completely unfathomable 5 minutes prior. Somewhat unexpectedly, you go from very basic websites to what can be considered fully-fledged work in what seems like no time.

To anyone who I know learning about the web now, I'll drill the word 'fundamentals'. Having a solid base (HTML and CSS on the web) allowed for a platform to learn both move those core skills forward, and supplement with the elements more bespoke to how Frank worked. It means that you can learn those bespoke elements at a greater pace - the platform you're using, or other languages like PHP. It lets you have your mind blown. Fundamentals.

On that note, it's also good to experience all aspects of development, starting early on - even the parts you're weaker at. That much is difficult if you’re new and learning on your own – how do you know what to tackle next?

From the sparkling front-end to the maze of how servers work, quickly in a work environment I saw and continue to see things that confuse me to what seems like no end. It helps give you direction if you lacked it before. For me, it's reaffirmed that I want to lean towards front-end. Fun animations, user interaction and the like; it's tuned to what I've always been more comfortable with, the fun kind of confusion.

Even among some confusion and elements that you inevitably don’t love, there's value to the broader understanding. It's definitely not always an easy thing; as in most cases, nobody's really expertly tuned to every single aspect of the job - but the different areas are valuable to get into from time-to-time, even if just the most basic understanding lets you appreciate it.

One of the unexpected benefits of being in a smaller team is that you're not just locked away developing. While you're working on a project, being a part of relevant meetings and having opportunities to interact with everyone involved helps a great deal: it can provide a nice break, you're kept in-the-know, and you learn a lot about talking to people in a professional environment - the latter being new being a recent student, but a valuable (strangely enjoyable) lesson.

Perhaps most importantly for someone starting out is being in an environment to facilitate that learning all of these things; one where you're not expected to perfect something you've never done before and know that can ask any question big or small. I think it's difficult to realise while in education how helpful it is to ask any and all questions to fill the gaps (I didn't realise), funnily enough, while you're somewhere labelled to be taught and learn. Luckily Frank allowed for and encouraged that, and I learnt a lot just by asking more experienced developers, who have either seen the same thing hundreds of times before or can help in breaking something down and understanding it.

Today, the scary (and existentially sad because now I forget everything) part lies in time moving just a pinch too quickly. Unfortunately for all of the great, world-changing things that web developers bring to mankind every day, I'm yet to meet one who's managed to control time. If you do, remember to ask them questions.

Asked if I those 10 or 11 months ago I could imagine myself giving the team a presentation on something new we'd introduced, I'd say "Yes, but I couldn't see myself making websites", indicating things we’re currently working on. That’s partially an exaggeration.