Scott Logic’s 12 week internship programme gives an insight into working as a software consultant for large clients and aims to equip interns with the technical skills and knowledge they would need to start a career in such a role. As an intern you will work on an internal project, being trained in the same technologies that the company ships in client solutions under the guidance of professional consultants.
Over the duration of the project you will learn about the technologies that are at the forefront of software development. I was based at the company’s largest development centre in Newcastle, where I worked on the development of an iOS web application that included image recognition, machine learning, and full stack development.
Scott Logic adopts a technology-agnostic approach to software development. Its consultants don’t set store by any “silver bullet” approach, but aim to select and use the best-suited tools and methods possible for each client project. These projects range from web-based trading platforms to mobile apps, and can last anywhere from a few months to several years.
Scott Logic aims to give its consultants flexibility in their work so they are able to stay up to date with the latest tools and technologies. Consultants will often swap in and out of projects depending on project scale, priority, funding etc., so the work stays exciting. This is good news for interns as it means the skills you learn during your stay will be right on the cutting-edge. The developers on my team had a wide range of experience with different technologies (examples of which can be found here), which I found to be useful in widening my technical knowledge and understanding of how the business works.
We also used TensorFlow, Google’s immensely popular machine learning framework. With our application being a kiosk system, we applied the framework to recognise objects that customers had selected. Having a neural network run in our app was a challenge, but equally one that allowed us to learn about artificial intelligence in much greater depth than I had done so previously at university. Specifically, we used TensorFlow.js, released just a few months before the internship began. We also had the chance to deliver a tech talk on our project to the Newcastle office. A more detailed write-up of the machine learning side of things is coming soon.
The Recruitment Process
The interview process for the internship consists of an online application followed by two on-site interviews, as is the standard for all Scott Logic employees. The initial application is designed to be painless, requiring a CV, cover letter and answers to a few quick questions on the website. The company avoids any online reasoning or coding tests that may be all too familiar to people reading this. Most interns tend to come from Computer Science, Physics, Maths and Engineering degrees, but the company accepts applications from any discipline.
It is good to note that Scott Logic also maintains good relationships with the universities local to its offices (e.g. the Newcastle office has strong relationships with Newcastle and Durham universities), and in my case, I was able to apply via Durham’s Computer Science Department and be interviewed on-campus.
From my experience the two interview stages were exactly what you might expect from a tech consultancy. They consisted of an informal conversation about my previous experience, logic questions and a practical programming exercise. My first interview, on-campus, took roughly half an hour, with 15 minutes each of technical and non-technical questions.
I was encouraged by the fact that some of the more senior developers came to take part in this first stage, and it gave me a chance to find out about the role early on. At this point I had practically no experience in using the languages and frameworks I have now learnt by doing the internship.
Fortunately, the interview was not structured to try and catch me out, and the interviewers had no issue in focusing on what I had put on my CV. They had clearly taken the time to read it thoroughly before-hand (rarer than you might think) and engaged in constructive discussion without any curveballs.
My second interview was at the office. This one was longer and more in-depth. The first part of the process was a Java programming exercise. There were multiple tasks that involved implementing functions given a description of their behaviour. This was done in a development environment set up by Scott Logic with documentation available. I was left alone to complete the tasks but had a chance afterwards to explain to the interviewers what I’d written.
Following on from this, I was tasked with further logic-based questions which I found that you required no specific technical knowledge to answer. Although challenging, I found that this allowed me to work through to the solution of each puzzle.
Finally I was asked in more depth about my skills and experience before ending with a more informal chat where I had the opportunity to ask questions and talk about my longer term career plans; the internship carries a prospective offer.
Interview feedback was something I thought Scott Logic did particularly well. I only had to wait a couple of days to hear back and received specific feedback on each section of the process. They also allowed a good two weeks to respond to the job offer, which is particularly useful if you are not local to your office and need to find a place to rent.
On joining, Scott Logic interns will undertake a two-week crash course in the same training material that all new developers cover. Even for interns with previous development experience, the learning curve is made steep here to ensure they are sufficiently challenged. I found the course content to be diverse and that it included everything I needed to effectively tackle the summer project that began the following week.
Day to Day
I personally found the commitment that Scott Logic gave to their internship programme excellent. It was evident from the start that the internship project would be adding real value to the business and would not simply be a throw-away project. Scott Logic consultants had a vested interest in the project and were committed to ensuring that interns got the most out of their time.
Another upside was that interns all work together on the same project along with current employees, including developers, testers and UX designers. It was about as close to a real developer role as you can get at an internship level in terms of the structure of your work and the non-technical skills you require. I would even argue that this experience of working in a scrum team is more valuable than the technical knowledge you walk away with. You will pick up knowledge about many areas of software engineering that tend to be covered to a lesser extent at university, such as agile methodologies and project management.
On the social side of things, Scott Logic promotes an inclusive community atmosphere. I found it easy to integrate into the team and get on with everyone I met during the internship. There are lots of activities to get involved in if you so desire, including meals, pubs and touristy trips. Being located in major cities, there’s also a lot for interns at all offices to fill their weekends with.
There are monthly “Friday bars” which are a good opportunity to socialise in the office – these are basically just a couple of fridges of free beer! You can choose to join in with these before your internship starts too – I went to one in April and found it very handy to meet a few people and find out what I was going to be learning before I started work. I was also lucky to attend the Newcastle office summer party (aka. karaoke competition) midway through my internship, with the venue being the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art next to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
All in all, I massively enjoyed my time as an intern at Scott Logic. I was surprised at how much I learnt in such a short time and I am excited to continue my relationship with the company.
Click here for more information on internships at Scott Logic.