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Life after the Academy and PHP UK

In today’s blog, Mayden Academy graduate Aimée tells us about her experience at PHP UK conference earlier this month.
Since I graduated from the academy at the end of last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to start working as a full-time software developer with Mayden. Looking back on my time at the academy, the aspects of the course I most enjoyed are exactly the same things I find myself loving about being part of a development team: I’m constantly learning new skills, I spend my day solving problems and working with a team of amazing people.
So far, it’s been fantastic. I often catch myself marvelling at how much fun it is now to go to work!
Last week I attended my first conference: the annual national gathering of PHP developers, PHP UK. I had no idea what to expect, but it was like a music festival, though slightly more civilised! Tech talks replaced music performances, there was an elephant-shaped main stage and free elePHPant tshirts, bearded hipsters and PHP programmers, delicious food, and most importantly, that wonderful sense of community you get at a festival. As a musician, I always find that going to a festival makes me excited to get practising as soon as I get back, and hearing some of the speakers at PHP UK was just as inspiring for me.
My favourite talk was probably Integrating React.js with PHP Projects by Nacho Martín. We had an introduction to React in the academy and it was one of the technologies I wanted to explore further. Nacho was a really funny and impassioned speaker. Having been taught a full-stack skillset at the academy, it was great to hear about integrating React and PHP, and it was nice to remember how much I enjoy front-end development too, especially at a PHP conference where you might not expect so many front-end talks.
Nacho spoke about the divide he often sees between front and back-end developers. When you first start out as a web developer, you’re excited about both front and back-end, but often you start to specialise in one and lose some of that excitement for the other. He wanted us to at least appreciate both front and back end, and to keep up our enthusiasm for web development. It was a great reminder to keep learning in my spare time. That’s another awesome part of working in software – there is always something new to get excited about!