‘A graduate programme is really beneficial to your learning’
Christian Malone, graduate, BD. Image: Luke Maxwell

‘A graduate programme is really beneficial to your learning’

20 Feb 2018611 Views

As students approach the end of their education, it’s time to start thinking about what’s next. One possibility is applying for a graduate programme.

Taking your first steps into the professional world can be quite a daunting experience. At this time of year, students in their final year of education might have started thinking about which graduate programme they want to apply for, if any.

Christian Malone is part of the graduate programme at medtech giant BD. He said undertaking a graduate programme is really beneficial as it gives graduates a well-rounded experience. He told Siliconrepublic.com about his own experience with BD.

What did you study in college?

I studied art and design at Limerick College of Further Education before undertaking a BSc in computer game development at University of Limerick. The course covered topics such as human computer interaction, information modelling, programming and system architecture.

I heard about BD’s graduate programme from a lecturer and I decided to apply as I felt it would give me great industry experience as I began my career.

With this programme, are you now working in your desired industry?

Yes. I really enjoy working with software. It’s a growing industry that is constantly changing, so that excites me. Initially, I was interested in computer game development but, having interned as a full-stack developer at a multinational, I saw how varied the software industry is.

Having enjoyed that experience, I knew I wanted to commit to working in the industry and I am very fortunate to gain a rounded experience with BD. I am working on everything from front-end user interface (UI) to database migrators.

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

I heard from current employees that BD had a great work environment and it offered good benefits to employees. I was attracted to the fact that they look after their employees and that they were willing to invest in students with their graduate programme.

BD’s graduate programme is affording me the opportunity to gain new skills in software development across a range of tools and languages, make valuable connections, and work with some very talented developers. Altogether, I felt it was a programme that would expand my knowledge and increase my employability in the future.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I wasn’t sure what to expect; the whole experience was new to me and I didn’t know anyone who did the programme before. I hoped to be exposed to a number of new challenges that I hadn’t met yet. Web-based UI development is a skill I wanted to improve, so I hoped that I would be able to develop it while working on some of the projects.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was worried I’d break something, but I was just excited to start and soak up as much of the experience as possible and gain practical experience in software engineering. Thankfully, the team here is really supportive and I’ve been mentored so well throughout the programme.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

At the very start, I was mainly completing corporate training and compliance material. I was also assigned to code review requests from my team members. As I gained more experience, I was assigned more project tasks. For the first couple of weeks, everything is about familiarising yourself with projects and processes.  

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

Yes. After a few weeks, I received development tasks on non-critical systems and within my second month, I was working on the main project that my team develops. This was great experience because it let me peek into the codebase and get to learn more and more about how the project works over time.

What is great about the programme is that you are managed very well; everything is a natural step up so you don’t feel thrown in the deep end. I’ve really appreciated this because it allows you to learn more effectively.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

Typically, my day starts at 8.15am checking emails. We have team members and senior staff located in the US who don’t finish their day until long after we have so it’s important to see what happened the evening before. Strong communication is paramount to keep projects without colocated teams managed properly.

From there, I check the state of our build and I plan my day based on tasks I’ve been assigned for our current sprint. I’ve a team meeting after lunch to discuss the status and implementation of our projects, along with any issues we’re having.

My team operates in an agile environment and works in three-week sprints, in which I’ll be assigned tasks. For example, the last sprint, I was working on creating a new UI informatics while now, I’ve been working on bug fixes and test coverage.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

With more experienced roles comes more responsibility. I don’t take part in as many meetings as more experienced team members who steer projects do, but I am delegated a lot of the tasks and I am involved, when appropriate.

BD don’t expect you to know everything right from the start. I am still learning new coding languages and familiarising myself with the codebase. Naturally, my workload is lighter but as I gain more experience, I am given more work and more responsibilities.

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

I do. I’ve had the opportunity to work as part of a team delivering quality software, learning how to use new tools and languages, and gaining knowledge from more experienced software engineers that will be invaluable to me as I continue to work in the software development field.

The graduate programme for BD is still being built with input from academic institutions and graduate hires so, as time goes on, I hope that I myself and others will feel more and more prepared for roles in the future.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at BD?

BD’s graduate programme offers a lot of opportunities for students. There are a lot of jobs in STEM in Ireland, but undertaking a graduate programme is really beneficial to your learning as it gives you a rounded experience of working in a team, assisting with projects and discovering new ways of approaching challenges under the guidance of a mentor.

This is invaluable as it means when you start a professional role, you are well equipped to manage new challenges.

BD is a great company to work for; a lot of employees have worked here for a long time and there is great career progression. BD really take an interest in their employees and there is a great working environment. Jobs are always open and I would have no hesitation to recommend the company to graduates.

Want to work at BD? Check out the BD careers page for current vacancies.

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