A young woman graduate with long hair smiling at the camera. She is wearing a black blazer and standing in front of a stone wall.
Eileen Rattigan. Image: Fidelity Investments

How this graduate bridged the gap between student and employee

6 Oct 2021

Fidelity Investments’ Eileen Rattigan discusses her experience on the company’s Leap programme when she joined as a graduate.

After a four-year degree in computer science at TU Dublin, Eileen Rattigan joined Fidelity Investments through its Leap Technology Immersive Programme. This four-month programme is designed for recent or upcoming college graduates with a technical education.

As an associate software engineer, Rattigan now works within a team alongside other developers, creating technical solutions for customers.

‘It was great to see how open everyone is, even in this online environment’
– EILEEN RATTIGAN

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What drew you to Fidelity Investments when you were seeking work as a graduate?

I didn’t have any plans to look for industry experience until I had completed my degree. After graduating, I spent a lot of time at virtual career fairs and on LinkedIn looking and applying for various opportunities.

During this time, I came across Fidelity’s Leap graduate programme at the GradIreland fair and I knew it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I applied immediately. The Leap programme structure was everything I knew I needed as a developer at the start of my career, offering me the opportunity to build on my education from college in a near classroom-like environment while gaining industry experience.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

My expectations for most things involve working hard in whatever I do and I was grateful for the way the programme eased me into the working environment.

The training that I received through that time was made easier as it felt so familiar to the lecture hall experience I was used to from college. I was also assigned projects that allowed me to get familiar with the coding skills that would be required of me as I joined my new role in the organisation.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

One of my most important responsibilities is maintaining professionalism even in an online environment. It was very important that I was punctual and prepared each day.

From a business perspective, I was given projects that allowed me to practise and demonstrate my coding ability and teamwork while in the programme. While Leap had that comfortable classroom feeling, I never forgot I was contributing to something much bigger for the organisation and our customers.

Did the scope of your work change as the programme progressed?

Yes. During the programme, I got a strong foundation in code. This involved plenty of exercises and lectures. As the programme progressed, I secured more hands-on experience with a larger project working with a business partner.

During this time, I became more familiar with project deliverables and scrum ceremonies, concluding with a presentation and demo to various stakeholders. This was a great learning experience to build on as I joined my team after the programme.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

During the Leap programme there was a structured schedule for the day’s activities. I spent my time between instructor-led training and self-directed online training. There was also time set aside for the project I was assigned to.

Now that I’m working in my team, I like to begin my day early. I’m a morning person so I find solutions to problems from the day before come to me much more easily at that stage in the day.

My team has a daily check-in at the same time each day where we provide status updates on progress. The day is then spent coding technical solutions and collaborating with other developers or the project owners.

Upon joining my team, it was great to see how open everyone is, even in this online environment, and it really helped me to settle in. They have been so friendly and welcoming that it made the transition from Leap very comfortable.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

The tasks I’m assigned are in line with my level of experience. Often a piece of work I’m assigned to will grow in complexity. When this happens, I can rely on the more experienced developers in my team to assist me. Currently, I’m working in a non-production environment so any changes made can be easily reversed once reviewed by my more tenured peers without affecting the main project.

Do you feel more prepared for working life after completing the Leap programme?

Absolutely. College gave me the foundational knowledge of computer science but, like with any science, it was a broad overview that allows students to specialise going forward. The Leap programme allowed me to translate what I had learned in college into an employable skill.

The programme introduced me to new technologies that I hadn’t learned in college. It not only taught me the technologies and frameworks that would be required, but also gave me the soft skills and business logic that would be needed for my role too.

Being a part of the financial services industry, I was given an introduction to the information I needed and it wasn’t assumed that I should have prior knowledge of the industry.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Fidelity Investments?

During my job search, I knew a graduate programme would give me the added training I felt I needed to build my skills in industry to bridge the gap between student and employee, without the pressure of specialising into one area immediately. The Leap programme gave me the opportunity to explore my options while gaining valuable industry experience.

Fidelity has an ethos of continuous learning and development. If I decide that I want to try something new in the future, then I’m comfortable in the knowledge that Fidelity will support me with it and that the support I received in Leap will continue throughout my career here. That is why I think others interested in a career in development should apply too.

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