I’m Kirsty Tidmarsh, a senior software engineer with DWP Digital. I joined in April 2016 after hearing about the department's transformation work.
The vision and plans appealed to me: I’ve got a lot of experience with the practices and processes needed for the role, I’ve seen them done well and know how they can work. I wanted to be involved in sharing that with everybody, doing it well and as planned and encouraging my colleagues.
I’m currently working in our software developer community reviewing projects and providing help and advice where it’s needed. I’ve had the opportunity to work across sites and see the range of projects we’re working on in DWP Digital. I’ve been able to teach Test Drive Development (TDD) and share my knowledge and experience in this field. I’ve learnt new technologies, written standards and been able to meet and work with other software engineers.
In my role I think it’s really important to see the wider picture, which is why I attend as many user groups and digital tech events as I can. When I first started attending user groups, it was quite daunting and I was often the only female in the room. But, I always felt welcome, people introduced themselves, included me in their discussions and there was usually the bonus of pizza! Occasionally, I still am one of the only females, but increasingly I’ve noticed this less and less, which is great that we’re bucking that trend.
Passionate about user groups
I’m a regular attendee of the Manchester SQL Server User Group and this is probably where my passion for attending user groups and events started. At first most of the talks went over my head and I didn’t understand a lot of the topics. One day I had a SQL Server Replication problem in work and was struggling to find help online, I shared my problem at the group and the organiser offered to try and get a speaker in to help me learn more. That was around eight years ago and I still attend the group now. SQL has become a bit of a hobby and instead of the topics going over my head I find I understand a lot of it and I’m able to help out too.
User groups, meet-ups and events are a great way to discover new technologies, get answers to work problems, network and improve your knowledge. To learn more about TDD I found a couple of User Groups to help me learn, and I’m now an advocate of test first development as I’ve seen how much better life can be with it
Never underestimate networking
Some of the events that I attend are more of a social gathering, such as Manchester Geek Girls, aimed at females (men are welcome too) working or interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). As a result of taking part in lots of groups I became a STEM ambassador, encouraging young people to consider a career in STEM areas. I also help out at a Code Club for children as often as I can.
Networking can be underestimated and can be a missed opportunity, one that I’m taking full advantage of. It’s is great way for people to meet up and support each other. I’ve found networking and joining groups a vast source of advice, opinion, help and tips. This support and encouragement has been a huge driving force behind my career and the desire to share my experiences with others. Hopefully I can encourage more people to get involved, to share their knowledge and experience with others and learn from them too.
In my role I’m currently building our software community by identifying the great work that’s taking place and promoting it to build an inclusive work place, get everyone talking together and absorbing best practices.
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