Missed the IEUK deadline? Apply to On Demand

Can’t attend IEUK’s live experience or missed the deadline? No worries! You can still participate with On Demand. Access recorded sessions and work samples in your chosen sector, and complete the experience at your own pace over two weeks. Apply by 26th June.

Meet Joe, Career Changer and Software Engineering Graduate

Book open Reading time: 4 mins

Meet Joe, a Software Engineering Graduate based in Lancaster, working on our Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project. Joe joined BAE Systems in September 2022, after previously working as a Physics teacher, and a web developer.

What is your role at BAE Systems and can you explain what this involves?

I am a Software Engineering Graduate, and I work on the FCAS project. There’s a lot of different disciplines involved and in particular I’m part of modelling and simulation. We are building computer simulation tools that can be used by our clients to aid in assisting the project. To do this, we are using the most up-to-date practices and procedures in software engineering, and using a plethora of modern programming languages, including Java, MatLab, and Python.

What was it that made you decide to change careers?

I was teaching Physics, however I didn’t really enjoy it and wanted to look for something else so started to look at different avenues. I’ve previously had a web development job, and for me I realised I enjoyed and was good at software development and engineering and this would also allow me to use my degree in Physics and Astrophysics.

I never planned to go into academics, and I’ve had four careers now since leaving university. I wanted to get back to software development and I started to look at BAE Systems to see if I could link my experience to a role there.

What was it about a graduate programme that appealed to you?

I had a previous role which was a graduate programme at a very small company, and it was a lot of pencil pushing and was quite demoralising. It also wasn’t a fully-fledged role so I ended up doing lots of different things. Something that appealed to me about this programme was that you go into an actual role with real responsibilities from day one.

Once I decided what I wanted to do, I didn’t actually apply for any roles other than graduate programmes because I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to integrate into a non-graduate role, as I don’t have a specific software engineering or development qualification. I also love to learn new things – being part of the graduate programme is a fantastic way to learn quickly and effectively, and be part of a core business line and team.

What is it you enjoy about the graduate programme?

The support I’ve received since I’ve been here has been incredible – not just from the graduate leads, but also the team that I’m a part of. They’ve given me so much insight and knowledge which is really vital for progression. The fact that I can learn from them non-stop is fantastic for me; I haven’t been left in the dark.

I took part in a previous graduate programme when I was younger and was left to find my own way – the one at BAE Systems is so different. It’s very structured, everything is communicated really well and I love the routine aspect of it.

What other projects have you been involved as a graduate outside of your day to day role?

As part of the graduate programme, you’re encouraged to do stretch assignments which help to develop you outside of your day to day job. I decided not to do one when I first started as my role is complex and I really wanted to focus on what my job was and getting started with that before I looked at doing a stretch activity. My priority was to put 110% into my role and build that foundation so I could then support those outside of my team - which the graduate team fully supported.

I did help out with the recent graduate immersion in January, where we put together a networking scenario with ten different graduates and spoke to all the new ones coming in, answering their questions.

I am now also in the process of becoming a STEM ambassador, and have looked into mentoring A Level students as well.

As a non-typical graduate, how have you found being part of the programme or did you have any concerns before joining?

To be honest, it’s never really been much of a consideration, and actually when I started there were others older than me in my intake as well. I have found that because I’ve had a lot of working experience, some of the graduates like to speak to me and get guidance on working life, and I’ve been a buddy for three new graduates so far as well.

There is a big social aspect within the graduate programme, and a lot of graduates like to do the extracurricular activities – however that’s not important to me as part of my role. I have my own life outside of work so I don’t feel left out. As long as they know I’m there for them if they need a helping hand or any advice, then that’s great.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to join the graduate programme, in particular those looking to switch career such as yourself?

I would say go for it. My main takeaway from my experience so far is I’ve learnt so much. The graduate programme is fantastic if you thrive on a challenge, and also if, like me, you’re not confident that you could move directly into a non-graduate role and contribute.

Overall, the work, the support and the people are the reason I love working here. Take the jump – I wasn’t happy in teaching, I took the leap and here I am. I don’t regret it – it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my career.

Considering a career in Software Engineering at BAE Systems? Check out our 2024 opportunity here.