August 20, 2015

A beginner’s guide to Cambridge Consultants [Cross-post]

This a cross-post from a blog post I wrote for Cambridge Consultants during my internship there.

After years of doing tech projects in an academic context, it’s exciting to enter an environment where work isn’t done to be marked and discarded but to improve real peoples’ lives. Many tech internship programmes follow a similar pattern to academia: a contrived project which is never actually used in production.

At Cambridge Consultants however, I was allowed to contribute to real active projects. Working in the Digital Services area, I was given the task of building an application to demonstrate and exercise the cutting edge digital service components that are under development at Cambridge Consultants.

Digital Services feels a bit like a start-up within Cambridge Consultants: during my 8 weeks, I was given freedom of choice over the technologies I used; there was no pressure to use one operating system over another; and I was able to do full stack development from the backend to the frontend. It’s a great positive that a company, older than many in the technology industry, can still stay so agile.

Despite this small-company feel, there are many perks to working at Cambridge Consultants that might only be expected from a company much larger. The free breakfast and lunch available took any pressure off of preparing food for the day in the morning. Most days, I would get up at 7.30, jog to work, grab breakfast in the canteen, shower and be at my desk by 8.30. At 10 it would be time for a morning coffee from the free hot drinks machine a short walk from my desk. I would leave at 5 and have all evening to enjoy Cambridge with my friends who have internships all over the city. The company respects its employees’ timetable and I was allowed to set my own hours as long as I completed the weekly hours requirement and could attend meetings.

Digital Services are of particular interest to me. I think that it is important to recognise that the sale of a product should no longer be a discrete point of interaction between a business and a customer. In fact it should be the beginning of a relationship between a business and customer. The only way to do that effectively is to build service components into products. Service-orientated product design gives rise to many new paradigms of ownership, social networking and sharing which will, I believe be fundamental to products of the future. The components and know-how that Cambridge Consultants are developing will differentiate them as the world wakes up to this viewpoint.

I very much enjoyed my 8 weeks with Cambridge Consultants and working with the people in my division. I really hope to work there again and I’m excited to see how the work I did impacts the business in the near future.