Charalampos Billinis

Computer Science student, Charalampos Billinis
Charalampos Billinis
Undergraduate Student
BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Charalampos is currently working as a software engineer at Apadmi LTD for his year in industry. He also undertook a summer placement at cybersecurity company F-Secure

What are your main responsibilities?

My current role is Undergraduate Software Engineer focusing on mobile development and my main responsibility is to develop new features and deliver them to clients on time.

In my summer internship, my role was security researcher within a Cybersecurity company. My main responsibility was to find new ways to bypass Windows Defender detection.

Can you describe a typical day?

Typically, my day at work starts with breakfast and coffee while I browse our Jira board. At 10am, my team and I have a daily stand up meeting for about 15 minutes where we discuss what we have been working on, what problems we face and what we are going to tackle that day.  After this, I begin working on what must be done for that day. This might include developing new features for our clients, refactoring existing code or fixing bugs. Usually, throughout the day me and my team we will have another meeting to discuss and solve other challenges together.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role and/or your greatest achievement so far?

The most rewarding aspect of both my placements is learning. Currently, I am working as a mobile developer, mostly focusing on iOS. When I joined Apadmi I had never written a single line of code in Swift or Objective C. Now, after only 3 months, both my technical and my collaborating skills have improved dramatically. This is because I work as part of a team with people that help me improve. 

In my Summer internship I had the opportunity to work with F-Secure, one of the leading companies in the field of cybersecurity. Having learned from some very knowledgeable colleagues, I was encouraged to conduct research. Within this time I discovered a privilege escalation vulnerability in Windows Defender. This was a proud moment for myself as it allowed me to make a practical contribution to the field.  

You can read more about this discovery on the Microsoft website.

Are there any challenging aspects? If so what are they?

As an intern, everyday has a new challenge. Everyday, there is something I have never encountered before that I must tackle. Having said this, it is the most exciting part of my placement. I love learning and I love challenges; every day is a new learning experience and I leave work having learnt something new.

What skills/qualifications from your degree do you make use of in your job?

I make use of the key skills I have learned at University every day in my workplace. One of these is my ability to work as part of a team. A second important skill I learned at University is the importance of being part of an agile team, collectively following agile methodologies. From the offset, the skills I have learned at University have been incredibly useful in a practical work environment and I am grateful for this.

How do you think your year in industry will help when you return to study?

Due to my internships I have become more knowledgeable in both the fields of Cybersecurity and Mobile development which has helped me gage what route I’d like to take after graduation. I believe that having practical experience within the field will help me achieve a better overall grade that I would have otherwise. Having the opportunity to have a year in industry has also helped me grow as a person, I have developed better interpersonal skills through my experience working as part of a team and better personal management with a better understanding of how to balance work with other existing commitments.

Why did you choose to study at Sheffield?

A University of Sheffield Alumni is a good friend of mine and had told me about his positive experience studying and living in Sheffield. Having heard such positive reviews, and in dismay with the higher education system in Greece, I decided to apply.

What are the best things about studying in the Department?

Within the department they encourage group projects. Prior to my year in industry I never placed any real value on these assignments. However, this is the aspect of the Department that represents my experience of the workplace best. Furthermore, within the Computer Science Department, we are lucky to have some of the most influential minds in the field as lecturers and peers.

What do you like best about Sheffield?

Sheffield on one of the most versatile places I have been. From a good coffee and doughnuts at Steam Yard before a lecture, to a Cold Pint at Molly Malones, there is always something interesting happening within the city.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you think your placement will influence your career choice?

Doing a summer internship and now my year long placement have for sure shape the career path I would like to take after I graduate. I picked two very different fields to work in during my internships, Cybersecurity and Mobile development. This is because I am currently looking to explore what fields I like most. I believe doing internships is the best way to “taste” job roles that you think you might like.

If you could give one piece of advice to current students or potential applications what would it be?

For people who are interested in doing a year in industry I would suggest to start applying for internships as soon as possible. Landing a competitive internship is challenging and it requires a lot of effort from your part. Last but not least, I would suggest to not settle, don’t sign a contract with any company. Try to find a placement within a company that you admire and believe it will be beneficial for you.

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