We recently caught up with Sarah about how she secured a Graduate Software Engineer role with Leonardo, how she built her commercial awareness before the interview and her top tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in her footsteps.
What stood out to you about Leonardo?
What stood out to me most about Leonardo was their award-winning graduate programme. The programme provides graduates with the opportunity to contribute to the development of electronic and information technologies such as defence systems, aerospace and sustainable ‘smart' solutions. These areas of technology sounded interesting to work with and drove me towards applying for Leonardo. The programme also aims to develop enthusiastic people who are willing to drive change and innovate, which is something I felt I could relate to. Overall, Leonardo has a strong commitment to developing new talent which provides a lot of value to the company.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
Being able to demonstrate commercial awareness is particularly important during the interview process. It shows that you have taken the time to understand what the company does and how it fits into the wider industry. To increase my knowledge one of the first things I did was to speak to fellow students who had previously undertaken internships at Leonardo. This was useful as it gave me insight into the type of work the company carried out. In addition, I researched the company online and read related news articles. It is good to know these facts, but it is also important to be able to express your own point of view to show that you have done your research and have a clear understanding of the industry.
What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?
My top tip for members going through the application process would be to make sure you are prepared. Do your research on the company and think about the reasons why you want to work there, why you would be a good fit and so on. Doing this research means that, by the time the interview comes around, you will be ready to answer questions and feel comfortable doing so. If there are any assessments during the application process ensure you have done relevant practice for it - whether it be coding, maths, finance etc. So, for any part of the process, preparation is key as it will make you feel much more in control.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
In the summer of 2020, I attended the Technology stream of Bright Network’s Internship Experience UK. This event provided an insight into working in Technology within an industry setting. There were great talks from experts and hands-on practical experience with a project to simulate the real-life work that you would be responsible for as an intern at a technology company. It was useful to gain these skills and they proved to be helpful in securing my place on the graduate programme at Leonardo.
What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced and how did you tackle it?
The toughest interview question I have ever faced is "Tell me about a time you failed". Being asked to talk through a negative experience can feel quite daunting as you need to describe a personal flaw or a mistake you have made in the past without putting your interviewers off hiring you. When tackling this question, the key is to answer openly and honestly. However, I think it is best to choose an answer where you have learned from your mistakes and went on to improve. In doing this it makes it clear to the interviewer you are self-aware and are willing to continuously grow.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Be open to new opportunities - whether it’s attending an event or learning something new, you never know where the next opportunity could take you!
- Stand out from the crowd - it's important to make sure that your application sets you apart from the rest.
- Keep up to date - it's key to stay informed about current events and new technologies within your area. Having industry knowledge is a great tool for success.