Joining AO – A year ago today

Joining AO – A year ago today

Joining AO – A year ago today

To mark making a year at, what better way and reason for me to start writing a blog. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but never really got round to. But here I am finally starting one. I just wanted to talk about my experiences in my first year at AO and what doors it has opened for me.

So a bit about me my name is Nicole and I’m a junior UAT analyst at Before I came here I was a graphic designer specialising in app design for a company based in Liverpool which is where I’m from. I completed college with a qualification in graphic design so going straight into a job was perfect for me and a good start to my career. However after 2 years at the company I decided to move on to something a bit different which is how I ended up where I am now. I was on the job hunt for a couple of months, attending a few interviews but not really getting anywhere because everyone wanted ‘experience’, how are you supposed to get experience if companies won’t give you a shot at it in the first place? So the job hunt continued, one day I came across a job at a company I’d heard of but not really dealt with before and when reading the description I had a light bulb moment that the skills I currently had were easily transferrable to this role. Plus with the added bonus of it being a junior role I had nothing to lose and went for it. I applied using the ao jobs website and quickly received an email response saying they would like to have a casual, down to earth chat with me about the role. It was arranged and I had a friendly conversation with Chris Piercy a recruiter at AO, it went well and I came away feeling at ease and happy in the way it went. I was then offered a face to face interview and made the journey to AO HQ in Bolton. On the hour drive there I was focused on the interview ahead of me. Positive and negative thoughts crossed my mind. Is this journey a waste of time? Could I do this drive everyday if I was successful? Will I even be able to do the job? Then I arrived.

As soon as I walked into the building I knew I had to work here. Looking on the wall of a building plan and what it holds, I could see rooms such as the Lego Room and The Bar, I mean what workplace has a bar in it? The feeling I got, the friendly atmosphere I felt made me want it even more.  Then I was greeted by Chris who gave me a tour of the building and told me about the AO way. I then had my interview, during this I was given a quick task to do, my mind instantly went blank nothing was happening. I felt the answer was right in front of me but nerves kicked in, the honest side of me came out, ‘I’ll be honest the answer is right in front me but I can’t see it’ I said, I was informed this was fine and got asked about my thought processes instead, considering it went blank I had to wing this bit then we moved on. I made the journey back home with the same thoughts as I had when on the way there. How did I do? Did the task ruin it? I haven’t got it? This was a waste of time?

When I got home I had a missed call from Chris, I instantly thought this this was to tell me I haven’t got it, that’s too quick for feedback or anything positive. I rang Chris back and got very positive feedback and he gave me another task to do in my own surroundings and time, I thought this was because I messed up in the interview but I found out later they did this with all the new recruits. So I cracked on with the task and sent it back. Again positive feedback but confidence is never present for me in any interview process so I remained doubtful.

After this I was invited for a working interview where I went into the offices and did some example work which I would be doing day to day if I was successful. I met the team and instantly felt at ease. After this I went home and the waiting game for a final decision had started. I started to feel positive as I thought surely they wouldn’t make me go through all of that to then say no but that’s the whole point of the process I suppose. I got a phone call later on that day to say I’d got the job. The relief I felt was overwhelming, the new beginning I was going to have, fresh start and a career I could go places in.

A year down the line I have learnt a tonne of things, some skills I never knew I now take for granted. I have learnt coding languages which were just letters to me beforehand such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, I have started to implement automation into our team using a tool called Cypress which allows me to expand my JavaScript knowledge and put it into practise, this has also allowed me to become an owner of the automation initiative within our team. I took part in the HTML and CSS workshops and tech expert’s workshops held by Tom Maddocks and Tom Cafferkey, Front -end developers at AO. I am also now part of a cross functional team, this allows me to continue learning every day and focus on one part of the website to make it more effective and enables me to make tricky decisions for myself rather than relying on people above too much. Not only that, but because we as a team own this part of the website I get involved in every step of the process so I feel like I’ve learnt about the whys and the how’s when it comes to the tasks we do!  I have now set myself goals to build my confidence in speaking publically as this is a major setback of mine. Running workshops internally to other team members and sharing knowledge is my first steps to doing this.  These are just a few things, if I was to name everything we’d be here all day.

AO HQ Bolton

I just want to thank everyone at AO for the past year for giving me the opportunity and all of my team for the support, guidance and knowledge. The people here really are amazing which is what makes AO a great place to work. I hope I spend many more years here going from strength to strength in my career. Stepping away from what I knew and taking a risk has paid of for me and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.




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