What’s it like to work in app development?

Ever wondered what jobs in app development are really like?

We sat down with five Apadmi team members from different departments to find out where they came from and their personal take on working in tech.

Mark Evans
Senior Consultant
Jobs in app development - Mark Evans

One of our lead consultants who heads up the Server team, Mark is one of its most experienced members and his knowledge of developing is second to none – all without a Computer Science degree!

 

What are your typical hours?

37.5 (when I’m lucky!)

What did you study at university?

Musical Instrument Making and Repair (College Diploma) – yes, that’s correct, no degree in software development. I made a clarinet from a block of wood (cocobolo) and sheet metal, all hand-crafted! It does prove you don’t necessarily need a degree in IT to make it into one of the jobs in app development.

How long have you worked at Apadmi?

8 years

What’s your favourite part of the role?

The variety you get; there’s always a new project around the corner and new technologies to get to grips with.

What’s been your favourite moment working for Apadmi?

I wouldn’t say I have a single standout moment, but the inflatable obstacle course we had at the last Summer BBQ was outstanding!

What advice would you give to those looking at jobs in app development?

We aren’t just apps, and app development doesn’t stop with them either. Apps nearly always need something to talk to – we build outstanding ‘somethings’.

Do you think it’s important to get more women into tech roles?

I think it’s important to get more people into jobs in app development regardless of gender. Having said that, there is a disparity in the ratio of men to women within the sector. I think some of this may be due to the way developers are portrayed in movies – fat, bearded, insular geeks, typing on black screens with white text talking in a language you can’t understand. We need to break that stereotype.

On a more positive note, I can’t remember a single CV from a women hit my desk in the first 3 years of working here, but now they’re much more common. Not a 50/50 split, but I do see progress, maybe 25-33% which is a hell of a lot better than it was.

 

Rebecca Willis
Business Development Manager
Jobs in app development - Rebecca Willis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca previously worked as a Business Development Manager in the nuclear industry, and for 12 months also held a role as Regional Manager of Women in Nuclear (an organisation committed to improving gender balance in the nuclear industry).

 

How long have you worked at Apadmi?

Just over three months

What are your typical hours?

My role is so varied that it’s quite a tricky thing to answer! Some weeks I might need to be in earlier or stay later to attend/host events. While for others, I might spend most of my time in HQ, doing regular office hours.

What kind of support from Apadmi have you had since you joined?

A flexible approach to working hours and the option to work from the city centre is really helpful to me. After the first few days, the process of joining Apadmi was not a structured, formal process but rather the whole team has been very supportive and helped me as and when I needed it.

What do you enjoy most about the role so far?

Jobs in app development are really varied – being at an organisation that works across a wide range of sectors, I get to meet people from so many different industries with different company roles. It really keeps things interesting.

What industries have you worked in previously?

Before Apadmi, I worked predominantly in the nuclear industry. Specifically, in the field of nuclear control systems. I worked with accounts like EDF and Sellafield on projects of varying size and complexity.

What’s it like being a woman in business, moving into the tech sector?

There is some overlap from my previous work; moving from the nuclear industry means I’m used to working closely with people in highly-skilled technical roles. One big change is that I would previously have spent a much longer period of time on any one project as the nuclear industry is less fast-paced than tech.

What do you think we can do to encourage more women into a variety of technology roles?

I think everyone currently working in tech has a responsibility to provide positive role models to younger people of all ages to make sure we have a strong pipeline of future talent, as well as making sure we create inclusive workplaces. This is especially important with women and girls; we need to make sure girls can see a successful future for themselves in the technology industry, and get them excited about the prospect of jobs in app development. This isn’t something that can be achieved overnight and it’s best when companies really prioritise creating an inclusive and accessible working environment, but at an individual level we should all try to do our bit to be ambassadors for our industry.

 

Matt Harney
Creative Producer
Jobs in app development - Matt Harney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt is a man of many talents, which shows how diverse jobs in app development can be. He lends his skills to a lot of different teams at Apadmi, from marketing to design to workshops, so there’s always something interesting that Matt’s doing during his work hours.

 

How long have you worked at Apadmi?

Almost 5 years. I first came in to gain some work experience whilst studying at university. I liked the vibe and the people, so when they offered me a full-time job, I jumped at the opportunity.

What did you study at university?

Digital Media with Marketing BSc at MMU

Where else have you worked?

I was artistic director and lead performer for the Canadian fiddle stage show extravaganza, Barrage, which was an understandably amazing experience.

Why did you want a job working with apps?

I took over the design and production of much of Barrage’s marketing and digital materials, which I really enjoyed and, after returning to the UK, decided that digital was where I should be focusing my efforts. The digital industry as we know it could be said to be relatively new, but I think it’s more than that. It’s fast paced and constantly evolving.

As mobile devices become more powerful and new ways to interact with them emerge, additional tools are added to the mobile designer’s toolbox, keeping the work fresh and intriguing.

What’s been your favourite moment working for Apadmi?

I have a great time at work. There’s always something going on and I never have that “ugh, I need to go to work today” feeling. With 60+ people and still growing, we’re becoming a fairly large company now, but we still have that pioneering vibe you get with start-ups. Probably one of the best times so far was the Apadmi Summer Roadshow where we took a classic red London bus around Manchester businesses, gave them strawberries and cream, plus a workshop about app conceptualisation.

What advice would you give those wanting a career in app design?

We’re looking for people who can show us an understanding of what designing for mobile can be, meaning they can demonstrate and show examples of a design process. The good thing is that there isn’t really a right answer; there are loads of ways to skin an app. We just want people who understand and can work with a process. Of course, they have to be really good, and great people too!

IOS or Android?

As a mobile designer, I find there are lots of pros and cons for each. Apple is largely credited with designing what’s considered as the modern smartphone interface, and they really hit the ground running with that first version of iOS. Google’s first iterations with Android weren’t particularly pretty, but over the past 7 years or so they’ve really upped their game.

As far as which one I prefer… I find myself switching back and forth between the two all the time. For me it comes down to the hardware that it all sits in. Right now I have an iPhone 8 which I’m happy with but those Android Pixels are great too so maybe I’ll go over to the other side soon.

 

Cathi Watt
Digital Designer
Jobs in app development - Cathi Watt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathi works on our UX design team and has worked with a wide variety of clients, including Zoek, Heatmiser, Assurant and ITV when we worked with their for one of their Tonight show specials.

 

How long have you worked at Apadmi?

Almost 4 years

What are your typical hours?

We’re lucky enough to have flexi-time here, so my hours tend to vary, but most days I’ll do 10am till 6pm.

What’s been your favourite moment working at Apadmi?

That’s a tough one, there are so many! I work with quite a friendly and fun bunch of folks who like to have a laugh, and there’s been times I couldn’t breathe for laughing so hard. We also have lots of social events throughout the year though which are great – we spend most of our waking lives working, so you’ve got to enjoy downtime, right?

What do you enjoy most about the role?

I’m a natural creative, but an analytical problem-solver. What I enjoy the most is the challenge of grasping complex ideas and understanding how I can improve the way something works whilst also making it beautiful and enjoyable for the end user.

Why did you get into app design?

My dad always said: “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and that’s always stayed with me. Growing up, I loved ICT, technology, art and design; at school I would also sit for hours drawing and painting. I was determined when I went into work that I’d do something I loved, so I researched what industries would see the most growth in the future. To me it seemed technology would be the future, so I combined it with my other passion for creativity, and here I am.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into app design?

Depending on your background and what works for you, there are a variety of things you can do to get into digital designer positions (or any of the jobs in app development for that matter!) at any stage of your career. Start by researching and understanding the different areas of app design, and try your hand at learning the tools we use. Take classes, talk to people already in the profession and learn how to think like a digital designer. Then create your own designs and practice, practice, practice – asking for feedback early from connections you’ve made will help you build a portfolio that’s full of strong designs that show your working and understanding of good UX principles.

What do you think we can do to encourage more women into a variety of technology roles?

Personally, I think this starts at an early age. Throughout my school years (and beyond) I was always one of the few girls in a class, and I can see why that would put others off doing those subjects even if they were interested in them. I also think it’s important that there are female role models in tech for young women to look up to and inspire them to get into the industry. Tech companies going into schools and colleges could help with this, by bringing female staff along to career fairs and doing talks on the sheer number of jobs in app development available – from designers to coders and marketing specialists.

 

Pat Cavanagh
Software Engineer
Jobs in app development - Pat Cavanagh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pat’s on our mobile development team, specialising in native Android and iOS apps, with more recent forays into building voice skills for Alexa. Outside of work, he’s partial to the odd craft ale, plays the guitar and always has a variety of side-projects.

 

How long have you worked at Apadmi?

3 and a half years

What are your typical hours?

Usually 10 ‘til 6 (I’m not an early riser!)

What/where did you study?

Physics at Jesus College, Oxford

What’s been your favourite moment working at Apadmi?

The first moment I saw someone I didn’t know out in the wild using software that I had written.

What do you enjoy most about the role?

Being faced with a difficult problem and coming up with an elegant solution. That’s usually a meandering process involving lots of mistakes, revisions and discussions along the way, but an end product that I’m proud of makes the work to get there worth it.

How/why did you get into development for voice platforms?

I was asked to build a prototype skill for a client and very shortly afterwards asked to speak at an Amazon Skills workshop to teach developers how to start building Alexa Skills. Bit of a baptism by fire, but I’ve since given a handful of other talks for technical and non-technical audiences and built even more skills. This is definitely going to be another big avenue for jobs in app development in the near future – building voice apps!

What’s your favourite piece of tech?

Bit of a boring answer, but my phone! Definitely the piece of tech that I couldn’t live without day to day.

 

If you want to know more about life with a mobile technology company, or want to know what jobs in app development we currently have on offer, take a look at our careers page.