IT and technology

Sector menu

How to get into defence IT when you graduate

Defence IT: graduate area of work

The Armed Forces are supplied many of their IT systems by external companies. James Nicholls at CGI gives advice for starting your graduate career in defence IT.
Defence specialists understand the defence environment and provide consultancy, software solutions, systems integration, secure managed services and training.

If you work in defence, your main client is likely to be the UK Ministry of Defence, which protects the security, independence and interests of the UK at home and abroad. Its aim is to ensure that the Armed Forces have the training, equipment and support needed for their work, and that they keep within their budget. The Ministry of Defence works with multiple defence suppliers to deliver the business and IT systems that they need to achieve this.

Defence specialists understand the defence environment and provide consultancy, software solutions, systems integration, secure managed services and training. At CGI, for example, we have provided end-to-end services across the Ministry of Defence, from its frontline operations to defence intelligence, communications, spectrum management, medical, security vetting, logistics and infrastructure programmes.

Graduates wanting a and defence IT career need to know...

The Ministry of Defence has over 200,000 personnel and reservists and works with 30 agencies and public bodies, for example the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. The UK government has committed to spending two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence and will spend £178 billion over 10 years on equipment and support. The priorities of the Ministry of Defence are to protect our people, project our global influence, promote our prosperity, maintain a strategic base and integrated global support network, and to manage the Department of State.

Who can apply?

Graduates and industrial placement students from a computer science or STEM degree are sought. It is advisable that new joiners have some experience with programming languages, such as Matlab, Java or C#. This programming experience can come from anywhere – from your degree, hobbies or any jobs that you may have had.

Commercial awareness is also important – you need to know about your employer’s business, such as which clients it works for and the key trends and innovations in IT. Having this knowledge will not only impress recruiters during the assessment process but will also stand you in good stead throughout your career. Keeping up to date on all of these things is always key.

Career progression in defence IT

Graduates (and those on industrial placement programmes) usually start as developers, programmers or testers, working alongside more experienced individuals from day one. There is no fixed rotation scheme at CGI but, due to the nature of our projects and roles, we find that most people will try different roles, work on different projects and gain a broad experience in their first two years.

James Nicholls is the spectrum portal development team lead, UK Defence, at CGI. He has a computer science (games programming) degree from Kingston University and has worked in the defence sector for five years.

Top