Winter 2006

Thomas Madar- Involvement Volunteer Experiences of Life and Employment Part 3

On my return from Christmas, I had scarcely sat down at my regular desk when my senior manager presented me with a New Year surprise. My presence would again be required at Post Office premises in Chesterfield, this time to participate in a little software development

My assignment was to document and enhance a Microsoft spreadsheet based Visual Basic application which compared two sets of records of a single set of financial transactions and which reported any discrepancies on the spreadsheet.

The commute was little easier than last time. The offices were a little closer to the station, and in appreciation of the time taken for me to commute, I was allowed to arrive later than nine in the morning.

The laptop which I received was set up correctly and I had no problems with accessing my e-mails.

I thoroughly enjoyed the task and was well noted for the quality of my work. Regretfully, after two weeks, I had to leave this assignment because there was no more finance in the budget for this contract.

In the Belly of the Money Beast

Another assignment was working for Barclays Bank at their regional offices near Knutsford in Cheshire. This lasted ten months, from the summer of 2006 to the spring of 2007. Work was required to update their Securities Database and the software associated with it so as to conform to the Basel 2 Accord Standard. This included index linking the value of the securities listed in the database so that their value was automatically incremented by the rate of inflation. The programming languages and environment were what I had been used to at Boots the Chemist.

Time management lessons learned previously were put into practice. My improved level of time and task management, together with my thorough level of testing and a reasonable relationship with my team made this assignment one of the high points of my software development career. However, this assignment was not without its problems.

The main problem was the means by which employees were required to pay for their canteen meals and refreshments. Payment was effected by means of an electronic purse-card which could be charged with cash directly from the holder’s bank account. There was no hole in the card by which it could be attached to a lanyard or a key ring. And the vending machines operated by this card gave the holder the refreshment vended before returning the card. It was all too easy to walk away from a machine without a card, which if loaded with cash, could disappear. Being a forgetful person, this is how I lost a substantial sum of money.

Nevertheless, the canteen was one of the best in which I had the pleasure to eat a meal. On Thursdays, they served a very good curry with all the accompaniments. They also had an excellent sandwich bar from which I could buy rolls filled at the counter for my evening meal.

The Barclays campus had an on-site gym, which for a modest subscription, I could use for some much needed exercise. Frequently, I worked out long after other staff had left, which did not make me popular with the health and safety conscious security staff.

My accommodation was also the best which I had ever stayed at for any far away assignment. It was a privately run bed and breakfast hotel run by a friendly Christian couple and a short walk away from the offices. For a very reasonable price, one had a superb room with TV, tea and coffee, and private facilities….and an excellent breakfast. This made use of the gym all the more necessary.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end…and so did my Barclays assignment. After ten months, my manager told me that there was no more suitable work for me, and so I had to return home.

Next week ‘Touched by Tesco’ Thomas concludes his work experience blog

thomas-and-andrew
Thomas and volunteer colleague

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