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#1 Graduate Interview Series - Oliver Clarke-McCullagh

Graduate Profile Series

Blog Series, Graduate

What do graduates do once they finish University?

We decided to do a Graduate interview series to give our readers an insight into what paths can be taken after University. Our graduates have gone on to do some amazing things, so it’s only right that we celebrate their achievements!

In the first of our graduate interview series, we are joined by OIiver Clarke-McCullagh, who graduated in 2018 with a 2:1 in BSc Computer Science. We had the pleasure of working with Oliver and found him a Graduate Software Engineer role with one of our longstanding clients.

Oliver gives some great advice for any IT graduates looking for a new career. Here is what he had to say...

When you enrolled on your degree course, did you know what type of job you wanted to do?
I enrolled in 2015, with the aim of becoming a software developer within the gaming industry.

How did you go about finding a job after graduation?
Initially via direct applications, and later by job boards. The boards led me to a position that spectrum was recruiting for, who kept in touch when that particular application fell through.

When did you start job searching and how soon after were you able to secure a position?
I didn't start searching for about a year and a half after graduating. This was due to lacking a portfolio of previous programming projects that I could use as proof of ability/knowledge. I used that year to build up my portfolio.

How did you find the recruitment process from applying, to interview, to offer stage?
Highly varied. What constitutes a junior level of knowledge varies from not needing to know the language the company uses at all, to needing to know how a specific language feature is implemented at the assembly level (yes, I was asked that for a junior position). The overall process was fairly straightforward, but the variety made it hard to judge what to refresh myself on before an interview or application.

Did you do a placement year / work experience?
No, though not from lack of applying.

What was your final year project?
I programmed a 3d graphics and physics engine to test the efficiency of 'fast' triangle-triangle intersection tests during real-time surface-modeled collision simulations. Spoiler: It's very inefficient, avoid using in real-time applications when possible.

Was the job market what you expected?
Kind of. I was more surprised by some of the interviewers as people rather than by the job market itself.

How did your education prepare you for this job?
It gave me a wider range of technical knowledge to draw on, so I have many more options for solutions to the problems I have to fix as part of my job.

What technical certifications do you have?
An advanced certification for the c++ language, issued by Microsoft.

What do you do to stay up to date with the latest technology and trends?
Mainly subscribe to a few tech forums, that link to tech articles. If some interesting comes up, I can do some more direct research into the topic.

Who do you look up to/follow in the tech industry?
David Rosen for his work on procedural animation and Joe Armstrong (rip) for his work on fault-tolerant systems.

What advice would you give another graduate looking for a job?
Emphasize your individuality. You have your own experiences, your own abilities, your own knowledge, your own perspective. Don't try to be the person they are looking for, instead show why they should have been looking for you in the first place. Also, buy a good suit. It's worth the expense.

Do you attend any user groups, societies, hackathons etc? Which ones and why?
No. Reason? Covid mainly...

Any podcasts, books or online training courses that you would recommend?
Not particularly, but I would recommend trying every stupid idea that comes to your head. Most won't work but seeking solutions to them is a trainable skill in and of itself.

What are your interests and hobbies?
Game engine design and gameplay design; Historical swords and polearms, both usage and construction; Modern Fantasy Novels; Live Action Roleplay. Yeah, I'm a stereotypical nerd. ;)

Thanks to Oliver for his responses! Look out for more graduate interview posts in the coming weeks…

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