Chris Ellis, Chief Technical Officer of Computer Application Services, hired student Emma Fairgrieve after her successful Careerwise summer placement in 2015. We interviewed Chris to find out more about CAS’s work, why they participated in Careerwise and how the scheme has benefited their business.
Tell us a bit about what CAS does
CAS primarily produces case management systems using our Workpro case management platform. Many of our customers use Workpro for managing complaints about their organisation’s products or services. The main markets we serve are ombudsmen and regulators, and financial services.
Tell us why you decided to participate in the Careerwise scheme
We participate in the Careerwise scheme for three reasons:
- We believe it’s essential to attract more women to work in STEM careers. There’s a shortage of technology workers in general. Addressing the gender imbalance seems like a win-win approach to help businesses to ensure they have staff to support their growth. I believe it’s also important that we make our work places more diverse – encouraging women into STEM careers is one aspect of this.
- Students should have an opportunity to experience a work placement. This gives them the chance to experience working in a commercial environment and we hope help them to make decisions about how they want their careers to develop.
- We also get the benefit of having a capable person spending a few months working on a project.
How did the Careerwise funding help you?
As a small company resources are always tight so having funding for an internship helps me make the case to the board. We’re also proud to be a Living Wage employer so the funding helps us to ensure that interns are rewarded fairly.
At the selection phase, what qualities did Emma have that made her stand out?
When recruiting for internships and graduate positions we are looking both for technical capability and for breadth of experience. We feel students need to have a reasonable grasp of programming to get something out of an internship with CAS otherwise the learning curve is too steep.
We generally find that individuals who have been working on their own projects, whether technical or not, have more depth and can take the initiative on things. Emma demonstrated that she had a good understanding of web development and had a wide range of interesting experience.
What kind of projects did Emma participate in while on placement?
Whilst on placement Emma was working on a project to improve the user interface of our Workpro software for visually impaired users. She quickly discovered, however, that to do a thorough job it would be better to move Workpro to a responsive design (which would support different screen sizes – iPads, etc.) as well as different browsers (Chrome, Firefox). Emma was successful in achieving this goal.
How did her work on placement benefit CAS?
As a result of the project Emma was working on we are now able to bring Workpro to a wider audience – from a commercial perspective this is largely about organisations using different browsers but it’s also reassuring that using Workpro is easier for visually impaired users too.
Why did you decide to offer her a position at CAS?
Emma demonstrated through her project work that she was capable and enthusiastic and was a good fit for the development team. We were very pleased when she said yes to our offer of a job.