Carl Washington

Chief Operating Officer, Pengower Limited
BSc Computer Science (2010)

I started as a Junior Developer for a small SaaS company based in Birmingham. Over the last 6 years, I have progressed throughout the company from Junior to Developer, to Team Manager and now to board-level. The journey has been massively helped by the experience and knowledge I gained on my degree, and whilst languages/techniques may change, the broad foundation stays the same, and it's the understanding of this foundation taught at Birmingham that has really helped in my progression.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I love my job, it is extremely wide ranging and different - no two days are the same!

Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
Several reasons drew me to Birmingham, the location was a huge one. Living in the Midlands, it meant I could be away from home, whilst also being able to experience independent living and get the full student experience.

Whilst applying, I visited Birmingham several times on open days, and was impressed by the grounds and campus, it had a great community feel to it, and I felt like I would be welcome and happy there - I wasn't wrong!

What are your fondest memories of the University?
I have lots of fond memories of the University of Birmingham.

The Computer Science department is a well-equipped facility, and the staff are extremely helpful and friendly; I still keep in touch with several members of staff; both academic and support.

The Computer Science Society (CSS) was also an integral part of the department, ensuring that as students, we had lots of social opportunities to engage with, not just in our year group but the department as a whole.

How did you grow as a person by coming to University?
The University helped massively in my development as a person, both academically and socially. When I joined the department back in 2007, I was very apprehensive and nervous about the whole University experience, being the first person in my family to enter into Higher Education.

What I liked about Computer Science, is that from Day 1, there were no assumptions of programming skill, and everything was taught from a beginners perspective. This helped massively, it gave me confidence to know that I may not be the best programmer, but I could learn the skills and knowledge and get better, and the staff within Computer Science really helped with this.

On a personal level, the University helped me to discover who I really was - it gave me my own space to make my own decisions, whilst supporting me when support was needed. Societies such as CSS and the LGBTQ were really supportive of me and helped me to make life-long friends.

What did you think of your learning experience within the University?
It was brilliant. Being a Computer Science student, we had access to our own suites of computers, allowing us 24/7 access to a computer - which is great when you need to complete projects and coursework.

The modules offered were varied, with the option to choose specialist topics if required. All of the modules have helped, in one way or another, in my career - from the core programming/logical skills, through to organisational and essay writing skills.

What advice would you give to current students studying on your degree programme?
Firstly, don't give up! I know at times, when things got a little too challenging, I often thought about quitting, but with the help and guidance of the support staff and lecturers, I stuck with it, and now I couldn't imagine what I'd be doing without my degree. Help is always available in Computer Science for those that need it, "it's good to talk"!