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Au’Guest’ Blog post – The talented other joint University of Brighton digital project winner tells us of how she came to build Brandwatch's mobile app!

Written by Alena Ruprecht, a joint winner of the Wired Sussex prize for ‘best final year digital media project’ as part of the Wired Sussex guest blog month

Seizing the great opportunity that globalisation has presented, eight years ago I set off to explore the world. After an awe-inspiring and incredible journey that took me across 30 countries in 6 continents, I finally decided to settle into a more stable life, enrolling at the University of Brighton to study Digital Media Development in 2009.

Like so many of my peers, managing my budget as I worked through my first year was something of a struggle, meaning I had to get a part-time job – rather aptly – in a travel agency. Unhappy in this role, I also took on a position as an IT assistant so I could utilise some of the skills I was picking up.

This was not only taxing, but wasn’t something I enjoyed doing, so when the chance to work at Brandwatch came along, I leapt upon it! Luckily, the then-small company employed me as a social media analyst, with my French and German linguistic talents no doubt helping me get the job.

Brandwatch have been one of the country’s fastest growing companies in terms of headcount, so as the staff numbers rose, I managed to negotiate a move to their operations department, before moving again to work on their website and some small widgets.

As time went on, the company recognised my design and technical skills, so an opportunity to work on a University project manifested itself.

I was to work on a mobile version of the Brandwatch app, as both a part of my employment there and as part of my degree. I built two prototypes for Brandwatch. A Brandwatch Mobile app written in Android and one in HTML5 cross-comparing the two and giving Brandwatch a recommendation which path they should follow.

It was great to work on a product that had a real-life outcome and gave Brandwatch some insights into mobile development, while also allowing me to work with some highly regarded colleagues.  To be tasked with such a big responsibility, and pretty much free reign to do it how I thought would be best really helped me to step up and take the initiative.

I think it's this collaboration with an incredible company and a team of super-intelligent and dynamic staff that eventually led me to win the Wired Sussex prize! Being able to call upon such an amazing bunch of guys whenever I needed it was invaluable, and working on a real product took away many of the short-comings of working on prototypes and abstract tools.

Winning this prize is one of my greatest achievements and I am really grateful to work in this challenging and fast-moving environment. I now work for the Brandwatch UI team full-time and am very involved in the Brighton JS community, something that has come about as a result of my work on the mobile app.

This is also due to my own interests in the field, but I have much to thank of Brandwatch, which encourages its developers to get out there and… well… play!

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