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Joseph Owen

BSc (Hons) Computer Science - 4 year sandwich course Placement with Thales, Crawley (June 2015-June 2016)

Joseph Owen

Why did you apply to the University of Bradford?  Please include the following - your impression of the university and the city and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

Living locally, I was very familiar with the area and the university. I applied to the University of Bradford as I knew that I would be comfortable in the environment, however, I attended an Open Day to further confirm the reviews and my own presumptions of the university.

From this I could see that the University showed great enthusiasm in Computer Science, which made it an easy choice for me. Since then I have enjoyed learning new skills and developing myself as a professional while been at university. Studying from home, I have the benefit of having two different social lives. However, at university I really enjoy working with people who share the same interest and enthusiasm in the subject that I am studying with the facilities to further that. 

Why did you choose that particular course? What did you like and enjoy most about the course? 

My first two choices were between Computer Science and Software Engineering. In the end, I opted to choose Computer Science over Software Engineering as I believe it suited me better and had more technical modules.  However, I also liked the idea that I had the option to switch between the two in Stage One of the course. I enjoy the technical side of the course having practical coursework on programming and solving problems, also with the expertise of the lecturers to help with my studies.

What tips would you give to prospective students (about the course at the University of Bradford and the university itself)?

Take your time and choose the course that you will get the most enjoyment out. I believed that I would enjoy Computer Science the most, so I choose this course and the enjoyment I get from this has translated into good grades, also securing a good industrial placement.  Make the most of your time at University and make use of the facilities and services that they have to offer, as they will help develop yourself and career.

What support have you received from Career Development Services / Placement Staff?

I went to the careers sessions that had been scheduled in my timetable for the first Semester, which helped a great deal in improving my CV, covering letters, job searching and interview techniques. I had my CV checked online by Career Development Services, giving constructive criticism on my CV and hence making it to a higher standard. I also had a mock interview with a Career Development Adviser in preparation for my Assessment Centre at Thales, which made me feel more relaxed and confident going into the assessment centre.

What action are you taking to improve your employability whilst at University?

I have followed the advice from the Career Development Services in ways to improve myself professionally. I have also been networking more in the industry, getting contacts and getting myself noticed more. This has resulted in me being more confident in the industry and developing more skills. I also created a LinkedIn Profile which is a powerful tool to network with others in the Software industry, which is also good for finding job opportunities in the future and keeping up-to-date with the industry.

What advice would you give to your fellow students about finding placement and work experience opportunities?

Start searching for placements early, as the good ones seem to go quite quick. I believe it is important to persevere with the application process, because there is a lot of rejection involved in the process. However, I applied for over 10 placements and got rejected from all but one, which is a good placement and I was successful in the application process.  Having a “never give up attitude” when applying will definitely help.  Finally, make use of the Career Development Services as they can really help develop your professional image, which could be the difference between success and failure.

Tell us about your current placement. 

I am currently a Software Engineer for Thales UK at the Crawley site. I work for the Innovation Hub which develops new concepts for a variety of markets and industries from military to transport. The role technically suits me as my main programming language is Java; however, I have gained programming and software skills in other areas during my time here.  I am always interested as I get work on a wide variety of projects and tasks. The role also includes time out of the office, travelling to different customer sites (UK and possibly abroad) and staying overnight, if necessary.

How will the placement year benefit you when you return to study at the University of Bradford?

I believe the placement will help me a great deal in my final year. I have only been with Thales for a short time, but I have already learned a great deal. I have learned new techniques and skills from the projects I have been working on, which I could most likely adapt into a final year project.

My programming skills have also excelled as I believe that they are getting stronger every day and it is showing in the work I am producing. This placement has increased my motivation for my academic studies as I can now see where the transferable skills are used from my course and gives me hunger to learn more.



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