Careers advice and planning

More than just engineers: where could your STEM degree fit at Rolls-Royce?

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

Discover Rolls-Royce’s engineering and technology programme, designed for science, IT, engineering and maths students.

Engineering and technology graduates at Rolls-Royce will work on projects such as the UltraFan

If you thought that Rolls-Royce only hired engineering students, think again. ‘For us to be the leading industrial technology company of the future, we need a breadth of skills and people who can use them in an agile way,’ explains Ellie Long, early careers lead at Rolls-Royce. And that’s at the heart of why the company recruits graduates from all STEM degree backgrounds – including STEM joint honours – for its engineering and technology graduate programme and internships.

So, whether you’ve studied electronics or maths, geology or engineering and business, Rolls-Royce has a place for you.

Your degree doesn’t need to determine your career direction

The engineering and technology programme has been designed to show you just how many career options are available at the company for anyone from a science, technology, engineering or maths background. You can join as a graduate, or as early as your first year at university as an intern, before picking up where you left off once you’ve graduated.

‘The programme is extremely flexible so I can explore different parts of the company and discover how I can apply my previous experience and knowledge,’ says Carrie Forsdyke, a materials science graduate. ‘There are so many opportunities and a huge variety of routes I could take, so I can’t wait to see my career unfold at Rolls-Royce.’

By the end of the programme, you’ll have developed both the depth and breadth of your technical skills. This will ensure that a multitude of career paths are open to you and, crucially, that you can always change direction and take on a new challenge. After all, at a company like Rolls-Royce, there will always be opportunities to try things that have never been done before. Just take its work in Urban Air Mobility as an example. Air taxi, anyone?

Getting to know Rolls-Royce through ‘gigs’

At the start of the programme, all interns and graduates are aligned to one of Rolls-Royce’s key areas, whether that’s civil aerospace, defence, submarines or its digital, IT and innovation hubs. These are very broad areas, so you’ll choose the different ‘gigs’ (essentially placements) to experience by browsing what’s available on Rolls-Royce’s online ‘opportunities portal’.

Crucially, the area of the business you align with and the gigs you complete aren’t tied to set degree backgrounds, so you won’t find yourself restricted by what you studied at university. Any STEM degree can be applied to any aspect of the business. It all depends on where your skills and interests lie.

Gurnoor Sehgal, an international technology management graduate, is aligned with the Group IT sector of Rolls-Royce. She explains: ‘There are so many different areas and projects available to me, such as cyber security, service transition, enterprise architecture and innovation. I’m currently in the service transition team and I’ve already learned so much.’

Freedom and flexibility

Essentially, gigs are placements with added flexibility –you decide on the ones you undertake; you don’t have to complete a fixed number; and gigs come in all shapes and sizes. Your programme will be unique to you and your development aspirations.

Physics graduate Harry Lester’s future plans reveal the possibilities for new knowledge and potential career paths that are opened up through gigs: ‘In future gigs, I am planning on joining a team where I can continue to exercise my interest in programming within a more scientific context,’ he explains. ‘I am also planning on spending some time in an engineering role. Although I haven’t had any engineering experience, I hope that this will give me a better understanding of the sort of work an engineer does and whether I see myself enjoying that kind of role.’

And, of course, while these gigs will involve working on Rolls-Royce’s products and services, there are other types of opportunities on offer to complement your professional development. For example, you could join a STEM outreach project and go into a local school to inspire the next generation.

Hands-on learning: technical and practical projects

One of the stand-out features of Rolls-Royce’s engineering and technology programme is the two additional projects that every graduate will participate in.

For the technical project, you’ll be put in a group with other graduates, not just from your area but from all parts of the business. Working together, you’ll be given a challenge to work on before presenting your findings and ideas back to colleagues.

For the practical project, you’ll spend time on the shop floor, stripping and rebuilding an engine. This gives you the chance to get up close and see what an engine looks like, as well as exactly how the production line at Rolls-Royce works. Combined, these projects will give you a strong foundation and a basis of understanding required for any career with the company.

Further, personalised training

Alongside compulsory projects and training modules, graduates can tailor learning to their needs. Rolls-Royce’s dedicated learning platform, Leatro, is full of online training courses and resources and is accessible to everyone, meaning you can build up confidence in any area you would benefit from – not necessarily related to the work you’re doing at the time. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn from the experts at Rolls-Royce. Carrie, for example, has attended virtual masterclasses with specialists in materials processing.

‘The videos and activities on Leatro have been really helpful for learning more about the business,’ she adds. ‘I’ve also been encouraged to attend external training courses to help build my digital skills, such as coding with Python. As someone with not much background in jet engines, I’m really looking forward to attending an in-person gas turbine course soon.’

Support is extensive and for everyone

‘You feel looked after in this company,’ reflects Gurnoor. This is partly because there’s a dedicated group of people whose jobs are to support you – a graduate coach, line manager and buddy (someone on the graduate programme or who has recently completed it).

This support network will be on hand throughout the programme and beyond, whether that’s answering any day-to-day questions, helping you to pick the right gigs for your development or discussing how you are going to achieve your career ambitions. 'I would like to be in a leadership role by the end of my graduate scheme,’ says Farah Weston, a computing and IT student. ‘I’ve expressed this to my career coach and they’ll be helping me get to the places I want to be at Rolls-Royce in the next five years.'

On top of this structured support is the fact that you’ll be part of a community at Rolls-Royce. Your teams and other colleagues will be keen to provide guidance whenever you need it. ‘Everyone I have interacted with is incredibly supportive,’ explains Harry. ‘I wanted to learn more about where a physics degree could take me, so my buddy gave me the name of a Rolls-Royce employee who also studied physics. When I emailed them out of the blue, they were more than happy to meet for a chat.’

There’s also the employee resource groups (ERGs), which are groups of people organised primarily around a special characteristic or life experience, such as the LGBTQA+ network Prism or OPEN for disabilities and neurodivergence. All groups are open and welcoming to every employee, allowing you to meet like-minded peers and receive even more support with your personal and professional development.

So, what is Rolls-Royce looking for from you?

Rolls-Royce knows that getting your degree is something you should be proud of, but it also understands that the grade you get is often a little part of what you can offer. That’s why the company looks past degree classifications when assessing applications. After all, there is definitely not one type of Rolls-Royce employee.

One thing that all Rolls-Royce employees have in common, though, is their ability and desire to embody the company’s ‘ABCs’ – aka its four behaviours. These are:

  1. Embrace agility – the flexibility to consider different options and angles to problems, and respond quickly to new developments.
  2. Be bold – decision-making skills and the desire to think up better solutions are important.
  3. Pursue collaboration – graduates should want to learn from and build connections with others, both inside and outside the business.
  4. Seek simplicity – the ability to communicate clearly is crucial, as is a wish to develop processes that are both effective and simple.

Bonus tip: find your purpose

Rolls-Royce is also looking to learn more about your motivation and purpose and how this fits with you wanting to work at Rolls-Royce.

For Carrie, this is passion for materials science and sustainability: ‘I wanted to work for Rolls-Royce as it faces a huge range of materials challenges and it is also a global pioneer of sustainable power solutions. I was keen to work for a company that would challenge me to push myself and use my skills to make a positive impact on the world,’ she explains.

Harry, on the other hand, is motivated by a keen interest in nuclear reactors. ‘While studying physics, I really enjoyed learning about nuclear reactors and realising how integral they are in achieving a carbon neutral energy grid,’ he says, ‘Not only does Rolls-Royce work on nuclear reactors within defence submarines but it is also working on the next generation of civil nuclear plants.’

It doesn’t matter exactly what your purpose is. If, as Ellie puts it, Rolls-Royce has something that will get you out of bed in the morning, recruiters will see that you and the company are a great match.

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