Graeme Eddolls talks to The Glasgow Guardian about how he became an employee at QinetiQ following his studies at the University of Glasgow
In our final interview of the series, Graeme Eddolls tells us how he found work following his degree in Physics with Astrophysics. And as we round off the series, we hope it has given a flicker of hope for those pursuing their careers in the near future. It does seem to be possible after all… and we’re as relieved as you are.
1) How old are you?
3) What did you study and when did you graduate?
2010-2014 – BSc (Hons) Physics with Astrophysics, though I’m currently applying to start a PhD in January again at the University (fingers crossed for funding!)
4) What is your job title and can you give a brief summary of what you do?
Electromagnetic Signature Analyst.
I analyse and optimise the electromagnetic signatures of Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy ships and submarines in order to protect both from sea mines and also protect submarines from magnetic anomaly detecting aircrafts while dived underwater. I conduct analysis and brief threat advice to Naval Command, and ship/submarine Command Teams while also working onboard these ships and submarines.
5) How long have you worked there?
It will be 3 years in February 2018.
6) Can you give us a ballpark of your salary?
26-30k (rising to 30-37k with overtime)
7) Why would this job appeal to students yet to graduate?
Variety. It’s the biggest draw for me and I advise everyone to look for this as one of the key factors in a job. I’m not sat at a desk 9-5 working with the same people every day. I travel the UK regularly and have the opportunities (which I’ve taken) to travel to the US, the Middle East, Canada, Germany and Australia for up to a month at a time. If I’m not travelling between sites or military bases, I’m onboard a ship or a submarine doing hands on work with junction boxes, electronics and mechanical engineering. I also get to conduct in depth electromagnetic analysis which can range from simple mathematics to detailed modelling while delivering customer reports which I actually really enjoy due to the interesting nature of the work. And I can break this work up by doing work in the yard, driving the site 4x4 or rib in order to maintain or repair our underwater electromagnetic ranges. My company, QinetiQ, employs everyone from linguists and psychologists to military personnel and chartered scientists, so the whole company is phenomenally varied considering its size of about 6000 employees.
8) How did you get the job and what was the process like?
Because it is such an incredibly niche job, I just happened to come across it on a job website and (albeit flippantly) applied. I was applying to some laser and quantum laser companies at the time and thought it never hurts to apply for as much as possible in case I didn’t get it. It was a fairly standard application, apply online, get a phone call for an interview then attend the interview. I went for the interview which allowed me to learn much more about the job, and because the laser companies took so long to respond, I accepted. In hindsight, it was the right thing to do, I have absolutely no regrets about it and, relatively speaking, I think it’s one of the best graduate jobs you can have (if you’re technically minded at least).
9) Perks of the job?
Travelling (plus a company credit card doesn’t hurt when you’re wanting to try food you’d never normally be able to afford); getting to work with the Armed Forces in operational environments; the amount of training supplied to me and the ability to develop my skills and gain accreditation is all excellent. It also helps that my colleagues who, ranging from 25-60 years old, all act like a group of friends since we travel a lot, eat and indeed sleep in confined spaces together on submarines.
10) Do you have any tips for students entering the job market soon?
Quite a few tips.
1) Sell yourself on your CV, especially including skills or activities that may seem completely unrelated to your application (volunteering shows commitment, part time work shows an ability to get out of bed, be reliable and show you have some experience of work outside of an academic environment, etc)
2) Choose a job with variety. To reiterate my earlier point, very few people I’d imagine enjoy going to the same office every day for 5 days a week. Many young graduates are chosen to travel in companies now as they are less “tied down” with family or other commitments, so ask about travel opportunities in your interview.
3) Choose a job you will enjoy, not one that you think will make you money. If you enjoy your work, you’re far more likely to succeed at it, gain pay increases, bonuses, travel (which in itself saves you money if you get a company card), and soon you may find your salary exceeds that of the job you look at from purely a financial perspective.
4) Finally, don’t ever feel trapped. Do not think “Oh I’ve done X degree, therefore I must work in X industry”. Likewise, if you do start a job, you’re very unlikely nowadays to be stuck in it for 40 years. Once you start work, job opportunities flood in so never be scared to jump into an entirely new field of work and don’t be scared to leave your new job for a better offer. I’m currently negotiating a contract with my employer to work part time while I start a full time PhD back at Glasgow University, so there’s all sorts of weird and wonderful arrangements out there to suit your lifestyle, you just have to ask!