Graduate success: Robert Hales, Junior Backend Developer at Xelix

Robert Hales

‘Being able to quickly and efficiently pick up best practices and other solutions, adapting them to our needs is essential’

Robert Hales, Junior Backend Developer at Xelix, studied BA Digital Arts and graduated in 2020. We caught up with Robert about the skills he learned during his degree, and his advice for students starting out in their careers.

How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for working in the industry?
At the risk of sounding cliché, teamwork! There has not been a single day since I started working that was just me working purely solo. Having exposure to teamwork and the challenges it presents is invaluable.

What did you learn in your degree that has been beneficial to you in your role?
There was so much during the degree that was completely new to me and that I had to pick up quickly, which required me to learn how to effectively learn. I’m often asked to implement something that I, and no one else in the team, knows how to achieve. Being able to quickly and efficiently pick up best practices and other solutions, adapting them to our needs is essential.

What are your main responsibilities and tasks?
Being a small team I tend to wear a lot of hats, I deal a lot with the daily ingress and processing of customer data. We process millions of invoices a day and run them through 20+ machine learning models, making sure that is running smoothly and performantly is not easy! I also write endpoints, deploy infrastructure, and occasionally do some frontend and javascript.

What are your plans for the future?
I would love to go into computer graphics, I really enjoyed the VFX elements of the course and would love to combine that with my technical knowledge. Maybe working on a raytracing engine? Or a modelling tool? Who knows!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same career path?
Keep curious, if something interests you learn more about it, even if it’s not immediately relevant. Even in my short time in industry, having an awareness of lots of different technical aspects has allowed me to recognise a better way to approach an issue or project. Also, learn Git!

What was your favourite memory from your time at Kent?
I really enjoyed the early stages of the final year project and getting to chat with everyone about their ideas. It was then great to see those ideas come together over the next couple of months.