Tech scholar to graduate: Kick start your career at CC

by Sam Bailey | Apr 18, 2023

Trying to figure out your next steps after finishing college can be a daunting thing to do. Luckily for me, that decision was made easily when I had the opportunity to take part in the technology scholarship scheme at Cambridge Consultants in my gap year. I applied to Warwick university and was able to defer my place for the year ahead. My journey from tech scholar to graduate was the best thing I did to gain invaluable experience working alongside other engineers, so let me shed some light into how this process was.

Doing a gap year allowed me to explore areas of the industry before fully committing to a degree course. I had originally applied to Warwick to study a Computer Systems Engineering joint honours degree. However, taking part in the scheme highlighted to me that my passions aligned closer to Computer Science than Electronics, and I was able to switch degree courses before starting.

From the beginning, I was thrown into interesting projects, including developing a few VR demos for the company’s innovation day. One of these involved programming an experience where users were shown the company’s anechoic chamber, which is used to measure radio emissions of wearable devices. The demo showed plots in 3D, collected from the chamber, that mapped the emission strength of antennas in all directions, on wearable devices. A user was also able to place these devices onto a manikin in the centre of the scene, to see how the radio emissions changed when devices were being worn. This displayed how connectivity issues can arise, for instance between earbuds, and a phone in the user’s pocket.

During the year, I took part in the tech scholar project competition, and I was given lots of free reign to direct a project in the way that I wanted it to go. This is done every year to give tech scholars and interns the freedom to explore new areas and have more command over an idea. It’s a thrilling way to work alongside other people your age developing something innovative.

As a tech scholar, you are given the opportunity to return each summer and CC provide a bursary whilst being at university which is a great way to take away financial stresses. The scheme also allows you to take a summer placement elsewhere, which was very useful in getting perspective on working at CC in comparison to other companies. This helped to advise my decision on what to do after university.

Upon my return, I always had new projects to engage with, and given the variety, the work always felt fresh and exciting. I was able to build on essential engineering skills like coding, and this added value to my Computer Science knowledge when going back to university. Working with multiple technical teams where it is important for everyone to understand code was something I found very beneficial!

Being a young adult in a new city and starting a new job can be nerve-racking. CC provided me with multiple opportunities to meet different colleagues around the business, as well as the other gap year students. Whether this was by meeting on the roof top bar, arranged sports socials or punting trips; I felt welcomed from the beginning.

When finishing my degree, I applied for a graduate Software Engineer position at CC, passed the interview process and happily accepted an offer. I was given a start date for the September of the same year, which meant that I could focus on my final exams and spend the summer traveling with my friends.

What is it like to be a graduate software engineer?

I joined full time as a Software Engineer in September 2022 and since then I have been getting involved in lots of projects that align with my passions. I have been invited along to a few client meetings which has been great to learn how to communicate in this environment. As a graduate, I feel as if my instinct is trusted at a higher level, and I can take more ownership of tasks.

Being a new starter again was a breeze. I joined the software group in the Industrial, Consumer and Energy division and everyone was very friendly. My line manager was supportive and still to this day makes working together enjoyable. Something I have noticed since the start of my CC journey is that other engineers around the business are always willing to lend you a hand, even if they’re not on the same project team.

A day to day in my job consists of working in sprints across various projects. I recently worked on a proof-of-concept powder dispenser, which was used as part of a client feasibility study. To dispense the required powders for our study, we needed a motor-control system. My job involved me finding and purchasing suitable parts, including a microcontroller, motor-controller, and motor. As well as, writing software which talked to analytical hardware and the motor-controller to dispense the required amount of powder.

There was a lot of freedom in the task, since it being a proof-of-concept. This meant that it was important to get something working quickly, and I wasn’t building this into a large pre-existing system. I sought the advice of other engineers when ordering suitable parts, which taught me a lot about the types of motors and controllers available.

Designing the software meant that making design choices would enable me to easily alter the behaviour of the motor, according to the needs of other engineers as they were testing. I also had to interface with analytical equipment. This empowered me to learn about serial communication protocols and write code to create a simple interface to the analytical hardware.

My time at CC has never felt repetitive. The highlight for me has been getting to work on a cluster of things that I am truly fascinated by. All of the social opportunities have been fun and the chance to get to know new people across the business has been endless. My potential as a Software Engineer is unlocking more each day, and that’s down to the unbelievable things we do to further expand the boundaries of technology innovation.

If you’re looking to get into a successful career in STEM, then take a look at our early career’s vacancies: Early careers | Cambridge Consultants.

Expert authors

Software Engineer in Machine Learning and DevOps | View profile
Sam is a Software Engineer in the Industrial, Consumer and Energy division.

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