Ever wondered if the Defence industry is for you? Having graduated with an Engineering degree, many are unsure what industry let alone what company they wish to start their new career with. I chose to start my career in Defence, working as a Graduate Engineer. In this post I’ll provide an insight into my first 100 days in the industry; my first impressions, and some of the development opportunities I got involved with.
My first 100 days in Defence
When I started, it was immediately evident to me that the employees were comfortable in their working environment. The combination of flexible working and the relaxed office atmosphere enabled me to enjoy coming to work and created a productive working environment. The team I joined were very accommodating and did not mind answering the dozens of questions I had as a new starter to the company and to the industry.
I was also impressed by the support structure in place to ease the transition of new starters into the Defence industry. As well as my Line Manager, I was put in contact with a Mentor, a Buddy, and a Technical Coordinator who monitored my technical development. Having this support structure in place gave me confidence that my employer invested in the career development of their new starters and helped settle my new job nerves.
During my first few weeks myself and my Line Manager got together to discuss my objectives over the next 6 months. One thing that stood out for me was the responsibility I, a Graduate starter, was given so early on in my career. My objectives were specifically chosen not only to contribute to the project I was working with, but also to enable me to develop skills that would eventually lead to Engineering Chartership. Furthermore, I was pleased with the amount of influence I had over setting my objectives, with my Manager actively looking for feedback on how realistic and achievable the objectives were.
The work itself required me to become acquainted with the world of Defence; from the current Defence contracts with the MOD, to the most recent customers of the Eurofighter Typhoon. I found this interesting and gained knowledge of the context behind the work I was doing.
Right from the very first day I was bombarded with numerous extra-curricular activities to get involved with. Helping the local community is a key driver for most companies within the Defence industry; therefore a number of these activities involved promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Maths) in schools around the local area. One thing I feel is important to note here is getting the balance right between extra-curricular activities and the day job, and the only way to find this is by trying for yourself. After a few weeks I had become accustomed to my workload and knew how much time I could devote to promoting STEM.
Another development activity I got involved with was the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS). I attended a lecture at the Stevenage branch where I met the branch committee. They introduced me to their Young Persons Network; a forum where other new starters can communicate, contribute to planning RAeS events and help run air show stands which all aid professional development.
I found being involved with the RAeS a great way to network with other engineers outside of MBDA. This gave me greater exposure to the wider Defence industry and made me aware of the work other companies were undertaking; something I believe will benefit my career progression.
In my first few weeks of work a number of training courses specifically for new starters were put on, allowing us to network with each other and develop our professional networks within my company. Since then I’ve found this extremely useful, especially when it came to choosing my next graduate placement, as I could speak directly with the graduate currently in the role to ascertain their opinions of the job.
Alongside graduate networking there are a number of office socials that occur, ranging from 5-a-side football to a weekly team lunch. I enjoy these events as they provided a way to network with your team away from the workplace in a less formal environment.
I greatly enjoyed my first 100 days in the Defence industry; making new contacts, expanding my knowledge of the industry, and getting involved in work that will make a real difference to the future of global Defence. That’s probably why I am still working here a year later!
If you want to know more or are interested by the things I have discussed here, please don’t hesitate to contact the group.
This post was written by Michael Ogbeta