Work Experience: Day One – 27 June 2011


TIDY THIS UP_A Virgin Media employee quipped that task number one was to tidy up this rack.

Today was my first day of a week-long work experience placement at Virgin Media, organised through Kevin Baughan (a close family friend).


At 7:30am, Dad dropped Matthew (my brother, who’s also working in London at the moment) and me at Furze Platt Railway Station, where we bought day Travelcards and caught the train. I’d already bought a copy of the i, and began to feel like a real commuter! On pulling in to Maidenhead Station itself, we saw Kevin standing on the platform, and he joined us in the first carriage on the way to Paddington.

Once there, less than an hour later, Matthew splintered off, whilst Kevin and I made our way to the Underground entrance. We had to use four trains across four different lines, but eventually we reached our terminal stop. It then transpired that Kevin had never been to the site where I was working today, so armed with a crumpled print-out of a Google map we set about looking for it.

In the most surprising area of town, behind a façade that gives no clue as to the technology inside, the secret ‘Hubsite’ is responsible for keeping a large chunk of London online, on the phone, and enjoying Virgin Media television. After being introduced by Kevin, I was immediately welcomed warmly by the jeans-and-T-shirt-clad director of future technology and innovation. Kevin then headed off to Virgin Media HQ, and we awaited the arrival of the rest of his team.

Whilst we were doing so, I was given a whistle-stop tour of the centre, ahead of being given a more detailed explanation of what each of the racks did by a fellow employee. Each of the yellow wires seen in the lead photograph above is carrying light (fibre) – if any become bent to right-angles, the light inside won’t be able to bounce off and the signal won’t get through.

Most of the morning saw two of the team Ping-testing a network switch with a 1.5Gbit/sec connection and then, after a Subway lunch courtesy of the company, all four of us took a taxi to Silicon Roundabout where the network equipment was delivered.

It was a really interesting day, in spite of the unbearable heat in the Capital, and I learnt much about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work that, amid so much else, lets me write this blog. Tomorrow sees me ‘having the morning off’ as I take a Biology exam (my last of the season), and then I’ll be ‘working from home’ and experimenting with power line devices in the afternoon at home. I can’t wait for the rest of the week.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.