Ryan Wells, Graduate Software Engineer at Skyscanner
By Ryan Wells, Graduate Software Engineer at Skyscanner
I’ve had a big interest in STEM subjects for as long as I can remember – when I was younger I always needed to know how things worked and would spend hours taking something apart just to put it back together again. I now work as a Software Engineer at Skyscanner, where I’m still taking things apart to put them back together again, but it wasn’t until late in my education that I discovered Computing Science.
When I was in high school I wasn’t sure what interest I wanted to pursue: mathematics, chemistry, physics or music. I was worried that I’d pick the wrong one and it would take me in the wrong direction. At Glasgow University I was able to take a degree in both maths and music and I picked up a third course to fill my required credits – computing science. I hadn’t thought much of it at the time but it radically changed my career path and ambitions, for the better!
By learning how to write code, structure algorithms and visualise results I was able to apply my knowledge from other courses in ways I never could have before. It allowed me to quickly experiment with new ideas and enhance my learning and understanding, allowing me to work at a startup building cutting-edge technology for the printed media industry. I decided to focus my studies exclusively on computing science and upon graduating joined Skyscanner as a Graduate Software Engineer.
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search company providing free search of flights, hotels and car hire around the world. Available in over 30 languages, it helps over 50 million people each month to find their travel options. My team at Skyscanner owns a system which is responsible for measuring what visitors do on our website. We use cutting-edge technology to process half a million data points each day, feeding back information to the right teams about how we can make products and marketing activity better. Our insights allows teams across the company to better plan for the future and make changes in hours rather than days – all with the goal of accelerating growth of the company.
I feel I am part of an agile, growing, exciting business where your actions every day are impactful. I’m surrounded daily with people from every walk of life and discipline (most of whom are much smarter than I am!) and I’m constantly learning new skills. We build, test and release our production website many times every day, iterating ideas and responding to change quickly. You are able to see code you’ve designed and written running live on the website within a matter of minutes: it’s a truly exciting environment to work in!
However it’s important to remember that programming comes in many shapes and forms: from spreadsheet macros to clever automations that do things for you. Even the most basic programming knowledge can radically improve everyday tasks by removing the boring or repetitive parts, allowing you to focus on the really important bits of your work. We have set up a knowledge sharing initiative, which I co-run, to share programming knowledge with our colleagues, to show how programming can be used to enhance most daily work.
You don’t need to be a Computing Scientist or a Software Engineer to unlock the power of Technology, Programming or Automation. The only tools you need are your computer, a good guide and a big coffee! Why not give it a shot and see what you can achieve?