Creating a Culture of Development

Employers often herald the benefits of apprenticeships and work experience for the younger generation, but what if you already have an established career and want to try something different – with no risk of losing your existing job?

With such a variety of roles and numerous teams, across two buildings in our Gloucester headquarters, it seems sensible to allow those with a keen interest in exploring their career options to do so.

With 18 months of service under his belt in first and second line customer support, employee Chris McAdam approached his line manager about his ongoing interest in development. Chris learned some programming at university, swiftly followed by HTML, CSS, SQL, AJAX and Adobe ColdFusion in his first job – and then taught himself C#, JavaScript and PHP in his own time. After a chat with managers and HR, a successful C# coding test quickly followed and before he knew it, Chris found himself on a secondment with Dev Team Apollo.

This is his diary.

Chris McAdam secondment

Day One

I headed to meet Team Apollo, made up of Steve, Alex, Phil, Rich and Derek. It was largely a set up day. Once everything was ready it became a case of creating a project and beginning to extract code from other projects to get a basis. The task set to begin with was to transport the current Clustered Platform Dashboard over to a new set up, where it would be easier to maintain.

Day Two

I started to really get into the coding. I began creating a basic service shell that would work as a blank template to start adding things to. This was a matter of repurposing code from other projects and learning how the various source control tools interact with each other to get the various projects needed to use code from. I also spent some time with Alex, checking connections from the dev server to the various Fasthosts services we have been provided with to launch the new dashboard on. This will help us make sure all the connections will work once deployed.

Day Three

Was doing more on my own but still received help from the team when I needed it. By the end of the day I was pulling all of the values needed for the dashboard system onto a log file as a test. This was in preparation for connecting to the dashboard tool and then changing the dashboard to suit the new needs. These parts will be in the coming days as everything starts to be moulded into one. I also implemented encryption via DPAPI.

Day Four

I worked a little more independently but still got help from the team when needed. I started to work more with other parts of the system, utilising Rest Manager elements for some of the stats, and looking to add the dashboard elements in preparation for pushing the information up.

Day Five

I worked with all the values I had pulled from the various queues so I could push them up to the dashboard. I had created a clone of the dashboard that was running locally on my machine so I could test the values, then once everything was running I changed the values over to point it to the live dashboard instead. We need to look at deploying this to the server that will hold the files so it can run permanently from there.

Day Six

The start of week two. To start the day we looked at deployment of the dashboard project I was working on in the previous week, I was now reviewing an alternative way of deploying it. This will be done with the help of another department so, while that’s ongoing, I was given a task from the team’s Sprint for the week. A Sprint means it is a listed item they need to complete quickly, than a side task like the dashboard.

Day Seven

I began the day by picking up the sprint task of creating a service skeleton for the Mail PSS Manager. This involved preparing a base project that will be worked on and added to going forward. I completed the task, checked my files in and then moved on to the next part – looking at deploying the service skeleton via ‘Platform Manager’, a tool the Devs use to release to live environments.

Day Eight

I started the day by adding the Mail PSS Manager onto the Platform Manager, this will make deployment of that part of the project more straight forward. The rest of the day I spent looking into the dashboard, as there was a part of it not working correctly. We managed to get this working by the end of the day. The cause was down to a known bug with the open source dashboard software used, but there was a simple enough work around.

Day Nine

In the morning I was quite busy with a lot of meetings. We then had the team’s backlog grooming session where we could look at any rising issues and assign them to be worked on in the next Sprint. After lunch, I had an hour or two to play with some extra dashboard features, followed by a PHP assessment with another of the development team leaders.

Day Ten

My last day was a full day of development, and I managed to add all of the extra features onto the dashboard. I also changed the dashboard widgets so that they have thresholds for good and bad. Based on this threshold the colour of the widgets changes to green, orange or red. This took me up until the end of the day to finish and concluded my secondment.

Chris McAdam secondment

So, how did Chris feel by the end of his secondment with Team Apollo?

“The secondment was a great experience and gave me a chance to sure up my feelings towards being a Developer. I met some great people in Discovery House and enjoyed my time with them. I got to see how the system works in the backend and got a few glimpses of the front end too.”

If you are interested in working with us, Fasthosts is currently recruiting for a range of different roles. If you are technically savvy, locally based and looking to join an organisation which invests in its employees, get in touch.

Current vacancies are listed at


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