Duncan Fenning talks about his career as a full stack web developer

Duncan Fenning image

Name: Duncan Fenning
Degree course: Computer Science with a Year in Industry

Name: Duncan Fenning

Degree course: Computer Science with a Year in Industry

Why did you choose Kent?

I chose Kent firstly because I am from Kent. I grew up in Whitstable so Kent was my local University. Fortunately for me, Kent enabled me to study my preferred course with a Year in Industry. I also loved the campus and the course structure appealed to me. All these things came together and along with my expected A-Level results, it was the perfect fit.

What attracted you to the course?

I was always interested in Computing but did not have the opportunity at school to dive deep into different aspects of Computing. In fact it was very limited and I wrote my first lines of code once I had started the course at Kent. I wasn’t sure exactly what aspect of Computing I would be most suited to but with the diverse modules offered throughout the course, I knew I would find something that would peak my interest.

Did you do a year in industry? If so, where and how useful was it in getting a graduate job?

I did a year in industry at a Kent based company, Holiday Extras. Their offices are in Hythe and they have been involved with the Kent Industrial placement program for quite a few years. This suited me perfectly as it allowed me to stay living at home whilst working in Web Development, the industry I was most interested in.

The 14 months I spent at Holiday Extras set me on my career path. I was offered a graduate job at the end of my placement which I eagerly accepted. I continued to do some part time work at Holiday Extras in my final year which suited us both.

Without the placement year, I would not have achieved as much at university and my career path and progression would not have been as smooth as it has been.

How did your degree course lay the foundations for your chosen career path?

I was able to choose some modules during my course and I focused these around Web Development as much as I could. I spent a year in industry working on Web Applications and my final year project was also Web based, building an API and APP for local events. These modules were most relevant to my career but the whole course gave me a wider understanding of computing that helps me day to day

Could you describe your career path since leaving Kent?

I rejoined Holiday Extras as soon as I graduated (2015) and spent 3 years there as a Fullstack Software Engineer. This role was based originally in the Hythe office, but after a year of full time employment, I moved to Leicester and became their first remote software engineer. I worked remotely at Holiday Extras for 2 years before moving to my current company, Supadu.

I joined Supadu in September 2018 and have been working there full time since. Supadu is based in London although I joined as a fully remote Senior Fullstack Software Engineer. It’s a much smaller company compared to Holiday Extras, with only 17 employees, 10 of which are other engineers. I stayed in this role for 1 year before taking on the responsibilities of Technical Director. I’ve been in this role at Supadu since September 2019.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

My days at Supadu are varied. I still do a lot of full stack web development, helping build and maintain back end data feeds and apis, as well as some infrastructure work in AWS. I also contribute to some of our front end platforms, mainly a client based dashboard built with VueJS. However, my time spent coding varies based on my other responsibilities.

I manage the other developers in the team so am responsible for setting up 1-2-1s, leading technical discussions and meeting with senior leadership teams to review and improve our processes. I also lead technical recruitment when necessary, testing and interviewing potential candidates.

Overall, I would say I spend 60% of my time as a full stack software engineer and the other 40% of my time on people management, operations meetings and technical reviews.

What are your future plans/aspirations?

I plan on staying in my current role for the next few years and learning as much as I can from working within a small business as the Technical Director. I hope to continue to develop as a software engineer and as a manager, building upon my current skill set. I then plan to challenge myself by moving into a similar role in a large company and perhaps focusing less on coding and more on leading the technical team.

I have always had aspirations of running my own company but whether or not that will happen, or happen in the near future is dependent on my personal situation with my wife and if I find something suitable to venture out on my own with.

Do you have any other happy memories of Kent that you would like to share with us?

I enjoyed studying at Kent university. For me, outside of lectures I spent a lot of time in the gym or in the snooker/pool rooms as part of the Snooker & Pool society. Living at home whilst studying meant I didn’t experience life on campus like many others but my overall experience is one I look fondly back on

Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to Kent?

I think Kent is a great place to study Computer Science. The modules are forever being improved to keep up with the change in technologies. The placement program is a reason in itself to study at Kent. It’s well organised and gives students the opportunity of working in real world environments before graduating. It has set my career up and I couldn’t be more grateful.