Demystifying technology careers with Aviva: graduates don’t need tech expertise, so what is essential?

Discover exactly what a career in technology involves and what Aviva does and does not require from candidates for its graduate technology jobs.

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Those applying to Aviva’s graduate technology positions choose between four ‘pathways’: change management; software development; user experience; and infrastructure, network and operations management. Each pathway encompasses different roles, which graduates are matched to.

Although each specific position and pathway will require its own mix of qualities, there are some that Aviva looks for in all of its new tech recruits. In contrast, there are some skills and experience that candidates tend to assume are essential but aren’t. So, below, we use insights from graduates and apprentices in Aviva’s technology roles to give you a better idea of whether you have what it takes to step into their shoes.

You do need a keen interest in technology

Your love for technology could come from anywhere. For graduate project manager Becca Nicholson, it was qualifying as a scuba diver that brought home its importance: ‘Not only does technology allow me to see and do amazing things in amazing environments, but it keeps me alive while doing so,’ she explains.

Sophie Randall, apprentice in the programme management office, however, is excited about influencing the future: ‘I have always been fascinated by the pace and levels of change that can happen because of technology, and I want to be part of future change.’

The reasons behind your interest don’t matter to Aviva; what’s crucial is that it’s strong enough for you to want to build a career around technology.

But you don’t need top-notch technology skills

‘Before I joined Aviva, I’d just finished a BA in literature – not exactly what you might expect for a job in technology!’ says Becca. Because you don’t need a tech-related qualification to secure any of Aviva’s graduate technology positions, Becca’s experience is not atypical. For all except the software development roles, too, the company doesn’t expect any previous experience in technology whatsoever (though any examples you do have will help to back up your interest).

The software development graduate role requires ‘some coding experience’. This doesn’t have to be high-level understanding and it can be self-taught: ‘Several years ago I decided to start teaching myself programming skills using online tutorials and quickly found I really enjoyed it,’ recalls Ewan Ferguson, who moved from studying English and history at university to working as a graduate apprentice software engineer at Aviva.

You do need a desire to develop yourself

Aviva provides plenty of opportunities for self-development, including training sessions and meetings with senior leaders. Graduates who make the most of these and really consider what they need to progress as an employee are those who impress. ‘If the graduates asked for a specific type of training, a follow-up session or to meet someone who could help us, this has always been supported and arranged for us,’ explains graduate solutions architect Lillie Coles.

It’s important to remember, however, that you will be constantly supported while you develop your knowledge and skills – by line managers, mentors, buddies and other employees you approach for help. As Sophie puts it: ‘There’s always someone in your corner cheering you on.’

But you don’t need to be anyone else to ‘fit in’ at Aviva

You might have preconceived ideas of what a successful technology employee should look like or be interested in, but Aviva is working at breaking down these assumptions.

In particular, the company is invested in supporting more women to enter and progress in technology, and graduates are encouraged to take part in related initiatives. ‘I want to get more involved with the Evelution network,’ reflects Lillie. The Evelution network supports all employees working in technology but its main focus is women, who can benefit from opportunities such as mentoring, networking and sponsorship. As part of Evelution, too, employees visit schools to inspire young women to consider a career in technology.

Aviva knows that technology won’t be your only passion and enables employees to develop and share other interests. ‘I was surprised by the variety of talks and different topics that are discussed each week,’ says graduate business analyst Ramya Lanka. ‘If we want to spark a new topic for discussion, support is available for this.’ You are also encouraged to support the causes you believe in: ‘Aviva offered every employee £25 towards a charity of their choice,’ points out Becca.

You do need to care about customers

If you’ve undertaken a job or work experience in a customer-facing role, this will make a great addition to your application: ‘Before Aviva I had worked a couple of jobs in retail – something which aligns quite well as Aviva is a very customer-driven organisation,’ reflects graduate software engineer Patrick Noyau.

Whether or not you have this experience, you’ll need to be prepared to spend a lot of time thinking about Aviva’s customers: ‘Since starting at Aviva, I have learned a lot about its customers and how every job role serves the customer in some way. This has included everything from listening to customer calls to learning about our responsibility to protect customer data,’ explains Lillie.

This is the only ‘you do’ section that isn’t followed by a ‘but’ heading – and that’s because there are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ when it comes to Aviva’s customer focus!

And finally, you do need problem-solving potential

Graduate software engineer Rizwan Ebrahim lets us in on how problem solving is important in multiple ways as a technology employee: ‘Not only do I use problem solving to manage the issues I face with my work, but I am also creating solutions to real-world problems.’ These problems could be tech-based, as for software engineers like Rizwan, or more person-focused for graduates in positions like project manager.

Problem solving isn’t about getting the ‘right’ answer every time; it’s about considering why things happen and how approaches could be changed. ‘I think my creativity and inquisitive nature helped me secure this role,’ explains Lillie, ‘because I’m always asking questions and wanting to work out why things are the way they are, and what I can do to make things better.’

So, if you’re curious, willing to think things through and want to make positive change, the chances are you have the problem-solving potential Aviva is looking for.

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