How to choose a graduate technology employer, by CGI
Finding the right employer for you – one that offers a supportive, friendly working environment, a variety of projects and opportunities for career progression – will make all the difference to your happiness and success at work. Narrowing down choices is undeniably tricky for those interested in technology careers and an abundance of choice can be disconcerting. It can also be difficult, because many technology companies aren’t household names.
CGI is the world’s fifth largest independent IT and business process services company and has been officially ranked by the Top Employers Institute as the 2017 top employer in the UK for its outstanding employee offerings. Graduates and placement students at CGI are keen to explain what they appreciate the most about their jobs and employer – so that you know what to consider when making your own decisions.
Consider… a variety of projects
There is a wide variety of projects to work on at CGI. Graduates and placement students can be placed in any of the organisation’s major business units, which include space, defence, banking, utilities and the public sector. ‘The range of roles available to you is incredible,’ says Andy Smith, now a software developer but previously a test analyst, junior technical architect and lead UI developer at CGI. ‘As a result – as long as you have the required skills – you can move into different areas of the business, giving you a broad experience that can be valuable, especially early in your career if you are uncertain about the direction you should take.’
Your day-to-day work can differ widely according to your role. Emma Wilkinson is a project management office resource analyst in Edinburgh for one of CGI’s largest government accounts. ‘My role consists of recruiting and managing resources on the project. I gather requirements from the client, advertise the roles, organise CV reviews, set up interviews and take each new person through our onboarding [welcoming] process.’
Abbie Maidment is a support analyst at the Bridgend applications delivery centre. ‘I have two financial services and insurance clients,’ she says. ‘I deploy major and minor releases into the test and live environments, and I make sure the applications are available by performing health checks and reviewing the log files. For one of our clients, I am a service lead, which means that I gather monthly statistics and attend client meetings.’ Abbie’s role enables her to work from CGI’s Bridgend office most days, but because CGI is a consultancy you could find yourself working from a different office or a client site some, or even most, of the time.
Consider… a friendly workplace
One thing that graduates and placement students agree on is how friendly their workplace is. ‘I could do my job at any other IT company but I enjoy doing it at CGI due to the friendliness of colleagues and their willingness to help you with problems,’ says Andy. James Lloyd, an industrial placement student, concurs: ‘My favourite thing about working for CGI is the friendly working environment. The social side of things is great. I play five-aside football every Wednesday lunchtime, which is a good laugh and good exercise!’
There are lots of ways to take part in office life, outside of your core job. Emma helped her office raise over £2,000 for charity, while Abbie was elected graduate representative for Wales, which means that she liaises on issues within the businesses, helps to arrange socials and is part of a support team for interns.
Support processes such as this ensure that graduates feel listened to and CGI also shows its appreciation in other ways. ‘One of the best things about my company is the recognition you get for your work,’ says Abbie. ‘There is a recognition reward scheme for work that has lived up to CGI’s values, and I was rewarded for my hard work on a project. I’d put a lot of hours in and it was definitely nice for that to be appreciated.’ The benefits package offered by the company – including a share purchase plan and heavily subsidised social events – is also frequently cited as being a real draw.
Consider… an inclusive culture
CGI places paramount importance on promoting an equal and inclusive culture for all employees, right from recruitment through to salaries, training, promotions and performance reviews. The company is proud of its employee networks as well as being a ‘Disability Confident’ organisation.
Consider… an award-winning welcome
Graduates and industrial placement students are given a lot of support from the moment they accept an offer. In fact, CGI won the Best Onboarding Experience 2017 at the TARGETjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards; onboarding covers all the welcome and induction training. Andy relocated from Newcastle to Reading: ‘CGI made it a lot easier by reimbursing almost all of the expenses that I had! Each office also has a relocation guide available for new starters to help them when moving to the area.’
Consider… progression opportunities
CGI supports you in taking charge of your own career development and training. ‘There are lots of development opportunities within the company,’ says Abbie. ‘If you want to do a professional qualification, you just ask.’
As a result, your progression can be swift. While formal promotions tend to happen once a year, you can build up your responsibilities within your role at any time. It took Abbie just ten months to go from a brand new graduate to a service lead, with considerable client responsibility.
Ready to make a decision?
CGI hopes that by listing above some of the key factors to take into account when shortlisting employers, it will give you sufficient confidence to make the decision that is right for you.