The year was 2012. I was a meagre 2nd Year Mechanical and Electrical Engineering student at the University of Bath looking for a company at which to spend my internship year. Every year, UoB runs a Careers Fair (as undoubtedly any university does) in order for companies to win over potential employees with free pens and sweets and for students to gain an idea of the different types of jobs that are out there. Being partial to pens and sweets myself, I decided to attend. While wandering as part of the herd, I quickly realised I knew fewer than half of the employers that were present. So I took some time to approach any related to engineering and have a quick discussion about the work they did, usually coming away with a slightly heavier bag of new belongings (the bag was also free). One company stood out to me that day, not because of the work they do or the gifts they gave me, but because of the atmosphere it exuded. I still remember that single discussion I had with Jim about Delcam to this day.
My first year at Delcam, now part of Autodesk, was filled with an incredible amount of variety. Graduates and placement students are placed on a rotation scheme, where you spend short periods of time in several departments. For me, these ranged from working in the on-site manufacturing facility to being part of a product specialist team. The company was just as I expected, with particular highlights being the (now sadly ceased) tea trolley bringing hot drinks and biscuits twice a day and just how approachable each of my colleagues were, be they managers or laypersons like me. Some of the work involved creating my own videos, designing fixtures for aerospace manufacture and even eventually heading up my own 3 month research project.
At the end of the year, Bart (one of the directors) pulled me into a meeting room out of the blue. I thought this would be a cease and desist notice about the number of catchy taglines I’d recently tried to include in my videos (unfortunately none of which had made it past editing), but he offered me another placement the following summer. Well, Autodesk were offering me money and I’d thoroughly enjoyed my time at the company so I accepted. And at the end of that summer the same thing happened, only this time I was being offered a graduate job! I politely asked them if they were sure about this, before graciously accepting the offer. I knew from the amount of responsibility they had afforded me in the prior year and a half that I would enjoy the rest of my time at the company and I still do to this day. Since starting permanently in 2015, I have travelled all over the globe and am now taking the lead in important customer projects. Last month I implemented an adaptive blade repair solution and in a few weeks I will be travelling to Las Vegas to present at a large global conference.
One thing I would stress is that I feel the character of a business is as important as the work they do. Even if you don’t know a company by name, take the time to reach out and get a feel for who they are and what it might be like to work there. That’s what I did and I’m extremely happy with where it has taken me.