My career path from EEE undergraduate to Software Engineer at ARM
Why did you choose to do an MEng in Digital Electronics (now Electronics and Computer Engineering)? Why did you choose to do an MEng rather than a BEng? What A levels did you do? Why did you choose Sheffield?
A: When I initially came into Sheffield via clearing, I applied for the generic "Electrical and Electronic Engineering" course. After my first year, which covered a wide variety of topics, I realised that my interests lay along the more digital, as opposed to analogue side of things, so I chose to change my course to what was at the time "Digital Electronics", which was available as an MEng only.
My A-Levels were Maths, Russian, Computing, and Physics; in which I achieved AABD. After going into clearing (I missed my firm and insurance requirements), I chose Sheffield, due to the course offered - the taught material as listed on the website was the most aligned to my interests!
Q: What did you enjoy about the course?
A: The MEng year of the course was definitely a highlight, but the first 3 years built a solid foundation on which the fourth year relied firmly! The courses were a good mix of theory, and practical work that built on the theory to reinforce our knowledge.
Q: How did you secure your internships at ARM? What did you do during these and how do you think they complemented your degree?
A: In my second year, one of the lecturers told us about a scholarship scheme that the Department was involved with, called UKESF (UK Electronic Skills Foundation). As part of the scholarship, you get an internship with one of the sponsoring companies, of which ARM is one. My position during my internship was in "User Experience (UX) Performance" - I worked on compiling and running various benchmarks for the ARM architecture on Windows on ARM. In doing this, I very much furthered my understanding of the C programming language, which was a great help for the programming/system design modules at University.
Q: How did your degree lead you to your current role as a Graduate Software Engineer? What does a Software Engineer do? Do you use any of the aspects you learnt in your degree in your job?
A: As a continuation from my internship, I got a role at ARM, as a "Graduate Embedded Software Engineer". One of the modules I took was a massive help, and I would not have gotten past the interview without it, as it covered key concepts I still use every day. I have worked on several different teams as part of a rotation scheme as a Graduate within my group (Open-Source Software) - ranging from secure firmware on tiny IoT devices, to adding new assembly instructions to Chromium on Android.
Q: What areas of your job do you enjoy the most and why?
A: I enjoy the variety of work that I do, and the culture here - it's very relaxed, and you're encouraged and trusted to do the best you can do!
Q: What advice would you give to students considering studying EEE and for students considering their careers? How can they make the most of their time at the University (eg pursuing internships etc).
A: For both groups - do some side projects! In my interviews (for both UCAS offers, and my job offers), I talked extensively about my side projects, and how they helped me develop my interest in electronics. Even if it's something like having a play around with an arduino and understanding basic C from it, you'll get a lot from it, and it will give you a good talking point in interviews.
For students considering their careers - get an internship (or do a year in industry). Typically companies are happy to take people who are inexperienced, but competent as interns, and the experience you would get from it would be invaluable. It gives you real experience in a workplace is that is a big bonus over the other candidates you might be up against for jobs.
Another piece of advice would be get involved in extra-curriculars! While I was at University, I attended multiple hackathons (which helped solidify my programming skills) and was involved with the EEE society. Both helped me advance my skills, and gave me an edge.
Q: What do you feel is the role of EEE within the future of technology?
A: EEE isn't going anywhere, and underpins most of modern society. Without EEE we wouldn't have electricity, computers, or anything in-between. EEE is the foundation on which most modern technology is built, and by understanding that, you have a great base for understanding how and why things work.
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