Kent Connects

Former Student Experiences

George Rhodes

KITA PLACEMENT AT KENT CONNECTS (2014 - 2015)

Since my Kent Connects placement in 2014, I finished my degree in which I received a first before heading back to work for Kent Connects and then KPSN for a few years which gave me a great start in the public sector and as an IT professional. While still working as part of the KPSN team I took on additional responsibilities as the Digital Accessibility Compliance Lead for KCC. Since then I have taken up a position as an Accessibility Consultant at the UK Home Office, run my own accessibility consultancy company called All Able, and am working on a PhD regarding tactile maps. 

My expertise and research on new public sector accessibility legislation is internationally recognised and over the last year I have done much work on the subject with the European Commission.

As an expert in my field I sit on several groups that direct the accessibility strategies of sectors.

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Jake Hall

KITA PLACEMENT AT MEDWAY COUNCIL (2018-2019)

Whilst at Medway Council, the Office 365 platform was one of their main priorities to consolidate a number of applications and transfer several systems to the cloud. Part of the Office 365 ecosystem was SharePoint, PowerApps and Flow. This was my main focus and I became an expert in the office by supporting colleagues and giving advice on the system.

I worked closely with the Business Services and Technical Operations Team, where I transferred their systems from a paper-based to a fully digital system which was cloud-based. This project was a huge success within the two teams and across the department itself, starting with one system process and then with that working well for the teams then pushing it forward to digital each time catering it specifically to the requirements of each sector.

Additionally, I was part of the team transforming their main government site. This focused on developing plug-ins for the new web hosting service – Jadu. This project gave me the most up-to-date experience and enabled me to expand my knowledge of JavaScript and reactJS.

While on my placement, I was able to secure a place on the KITC in my final year while studying Computing at the University of Kent. Throughout my year at KITC I was delivering commercial internal and external projects to several clients, who are typically small businesses based in Kent. I engaged with clients face to face consulting with them to understand their current user processes, gathering of requirements and developing their digital roadmap for the ideal future state. I engaged in design thinking techniques as a tool for developing solutions for customers issues and provided the expertise to help clients understand the digital transformations to utilise them within their business.

In my final year studying Computing, I was able to secure a graduate role at Netcompany where I am currently a software development consultant. Within this role, I have been assigned to several different projects and been given the opportunity to develop my IT skills further.

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Calvin Lee

KITA placement at Gravesham Borough Council (2019-2020)

I attended the University of Kent, studying Business Information Technology. As part of my undergraduate degree, I completed a year-long placement at Gravesham Borough Council with the Digital Team. My role consisted of developing new online processes to replace old paper forms and improving the accessibility of the council website. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I helped develop a new online process as part of the council’s community response to assist self-isolating residents.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Gravesham because I had the opportunity to personally lead my own projects and work alongside several different services. When I returned to university, I joined the KITC as a Student IT Consultant to continue developing the skills gained during my placement.

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David Meakin

KITA placement at Kent Connects (2015-2016)

Being at Kent Connects during digital.together’s inaugural year was an amazing experience. We were working on some ground breaking projects and managed to successfully win the Digital Footprint EU funding with my proposal. After finishing my placement I volunteered for a charity in Uganda as a digital inclusion officer and went on to start my career in e-commerce once I finished my degree. I have since built my own consultancy business, worked internationally on digital transformation projects and am now a Senior Solution Architect for BigCommerce working with some of the worlds best brands such as P&G, Diageo and Harvey Nichols. We took the company public in 2020 and are working hard to become the world’s best commerce platform for all stages of merchant growth.

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James Bridges

KITA placement at Gravesham Borough Council (2016-2017)

In 2016, as part of my Computer Science degree at the University of Kent, I completed a placement year as a KITA student for Kent Connects.

I worked for a year at Gravesham Borough Council as their Digital Support Officer and loved the whole experience. I was made to feel like a valued member of a small Digital Team right from the outset and got stuck straight into helping to drive change and transformation within the organisation.

I was offered the opportunity to come back to GBC after graduating and I jumped at the opportunity. My current role is Digital Developer, which allows me to make the most of my technical background, but it is also quite a diverse role that pushes me to develop other non-technical skills.

Most of my work is project based and has included: project managing the implementation of a new Waste Management back-office system, helping to launch a new website and building complex online forms that integrate with new and existing systems.

The role requires me to work with various web technologies on a daily basis, mainly focussing on integrating online forms with other systems using SQL and APIs/Web Services. In addition to this, I get the opportunity to work with many different stakeholders at varying levels within the organisation. We’re a fairly unique team in that we assist and interact with almost every department, meaning no two days are the same and I’m always learning new things.

There’s a huge sense of satisfaction in making a tangible difference to residents’ online experience and the way they interact with the Council. I hope that I can continue to do so for many years to come.

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