University of Birmingham Software Engineer
Up until now
I started with a Summer Internship in 2009 before going to university in September. The work was interesting and I had no idea what to expect on my first day, but I liked it so much that I’ve worked at Thales every summer holiday since! Each year, I have felt more involved and I have been given more opportunity to develop solutions on my own – this is mainly due to my increased knowledge in the subject areas.
I’m now an engineer on the Graduate Development Programme, and have been involved in several projects, ranging from simple improvements and testing, to being part of a team responsible for designing and implementing a new system.
The most important thing
In my role, it’s essential to have the ability to learn quickly, to be efficient and have some background knowledge of hardware as well as software, but learning how to work in a team has been the most important thing. Teamwork with students at university is different to teamwork in the workplace, as I am trying to contribute to a project alongside colleagues who have far more experience than I do.
Thales is a large organisation but focuses on the individual and engages with its employees. I have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss my development – but so does every other employee in the organisation, allowing for two-way communication. What’s more, Thales provides a vast amount of training and opportunities to learn throughout the Graduate Development Programme, totalling around 12 training courses over the two-and-a-half year programme. So while I’m learning, I’m also sculpting my career journey with the help from my mentors.
During my short time at Thales I’ve been involved in around six different projects. One of the highlights was working on a naval radio platform, where the hardware and software needed to be updated. This involved writing assembly code to send data to a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) via a Serial Port. My biggest challenge was familiarising myself with the system design, architecture and interfaces available. It also taught me how a major part of the system functions, and how to program and debug an embedded system. In addition to this, I carried out modifications to documentation, describing new functions and clarifying diagrams.