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Well placed for a software engineering career

Finding and developing the best graduate talent is critical to driving growth at Principle One. One of the ways that we find the right graduates to join our team has been through the development of an internship and placement scheme which lets students ‘try before you buy’ and learn what it’s like working at Principle One. 2020 has seen the launch of our first industrial placement, which builds on the internships that we offered in 2019, and for this first placement, we targeted the University of Surrey’s Computer Science degree, having first-hand experience of its alumni within our own team.

Barnaby Hillis, who will graduate from the University of Surrey in 2022 with a BSc in Computer Science, is our first placement student, having joined us in July 2020:

“Over my first two years at the University of Surrey I was able to study numerous different programming languages and computational concepts, giving me a strong foundation to begin my own career in the tech industry. When I applied to Principle One, I really liked the idea of working in a small company, where I would have a chance to get stuck in to solve real business problems, but would feel that I was part of a team.

When I joined in July, I was worried about how remote working would impact my placement and whether I would still be able to learn new skills during the year. In my first role, I have been working in an agile delivery team, doing full stack development in C# and WPF. This has helped me learn about all aspects of software delivery from the role of a Business Analyst through to how to plan for testing – and hasn’t just been about improving my programming skills. We have been able to have some in-office days but remote working hasn’t been the problem I thought it would be – and daily stand ups have helped keen us focused as a team.”

Barnaby isn’t the first Surrey student to have joined Principle One and the decision to target Surrey’s Computer Science course was influenced by the experiences of Chris Spearing, Head of Engineering Delivery at Principle One, and a 2009 graduate of Computing and Information Technology from Surrey. Chris began his career at a small software company, having completed a placement there during his degree.

Since May 2019, Chris has headed up the Principle One’s growing software engineering capability, alongside fulfilling customer facing roles.

“My industrial placement year at Surrey was pivotal in helping me find my feet at the start of my software engineering career and instilling a daily routine and knack for problem solving that transformed my grades in final year. Furthermore, it really helped me get job interviews in a really tough market, although I did choose to return to my placement employer.

My own experiences have helped me shape our internships and placements. In practice, this means an induction process where our interns and placement students are brought into teams where they can learn how we apply systems engineering and software engineering practices to our customer problems, letting them find their own particular passion and contribute their own ideas from the outset.”

Another important aspect to supporting interns and placement students is assigning them a career mentor, who will act as a coach and provide a sounding board for students alongside their day to day line management. Career mentoring is provided to all staff and supports them in planning their careers, identifying new skills they may wish to develop and in trying out new roles.

Andrew Sadler joined Principle One following the completion of a master’s degree in Mathematics at Surrey University in 2018. Andrew also benefited from industry experience during a placement year, which left him with a clear view of where he wanted his career to take him when he joined Principle One.

“I’m a Systems Engineer at Principle One, which means I take on a wide range of tasks. While most of my time is spent working in a technical consultancy role for one our customers, I also support the Principle One infrastructure, coach and mentor new graduates and get involved in recruitment. My own placement year was vital in giving me the chance to explore a variety of roles in business analysis, application architecture and software engineering, so when I graduated I had a clear view of what I wanted to do.

I’m also involved as a career mentor. While Chris is my mentor, and can offer support and guidance around my chosen career path, I have now taken on the role of a career mentor to some of our new starters, including Barnaby, and hope to continue to develop the positive culture we have at Principle One.”

From Barnaby’s perspective, career mentoring has made a real difference to his placement – especially when not in the office every day. “Principle One’s focus on career mentoring has meant my motivations and goals for the future have been considered when looking potential roles for me during my placement, this is something that has made Principle One a fantastic place to work – and where I could see a long term career.”

Principle One currently has open roles for graduates, industrial placements and internships from summer 2021, as well as a range of experienced hire opportunities. Please see the Join Us section of our website for more details.


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