This Summer Engage launched its Graduate Academy to create technical professionals, equipped with the knowledge and experience to excel in the digital industry.
The Engage Graduate Academy is a programme designed to support and mentor new university graduates to fast-track their technical careers.
Over a 12 month period, the graduates will receive training on our methodologies and technology platforms, we offer mentoring from our senior developers and give them the chance to use their skills by working on some live projects for impressive clients.
After three or four years at university, we take graduates who’ve written essays and passed exams and equip them with the practical skills they need to gain confidence and establish themselves professionally.
Although this is the first official year of Engage’s Graduate Academy, it’s not an entirely new venture for us.
Some of the most valued members of our team came to as fresh-faced graduates. Our developers Marty, Peter, Erin and Hannah, for example, came to us from university and have been part of the team for almost three years. They’re now proficient developers who contribute significantly on some of our most challenging and complex technical projects for clients such as Power NI, PSNI, BNP Paribas and Easons.
Seeing how our previous grads have grown and developed their careers, this year we decided to make it official and really invest in training and support to enable new talent to reach its potential.
"Coming to Engage as a Graduate was a valuable experience for me because they gave me the tools I needed to progress my skills as a web developer and software engineer - with great exposure to different technologies and to deliver for big brands." Martin Campbell, Developer
"The Engage Graduate Academy gave me the opportunity to explore a number of different career options that I could take. I was able to work closely with a group of seasoned professionals who were willing to share their knowledge. I started as a UI designer and I was able to work on various projects within this role as well as working on the UX side of things. However I found my niche as a front-end developer. I have since been given the opportunity to work on large projects such as Easons, MCS and IGB ,working with various technologies. I am fast approaching three years and I am still learning something new each day." Erin-Katie Strapp, Front-End Developer
"When I came to Engage as a graduate I was pretty nervous, as it was my first full-time job after my degree. From day one though, everyone at Engage has been really approachable and more than happy to help, answering any questions I have, especially Hannah who was my assigned 'buddy' when I started." Peter Bennington, Developer
"Coming to Engage taught me real world skills, the importance of adaptability, attention to detail and time management. Being able to learn new and upcoming languages as well as being able to work with top clients was the cherry on the cake!" Hannah Matthews, Developer
This year, after receiving a lot of applications, we chose three talented graduates and one placement student with various technical strengths to join our growing team of developers. The technical area of the business has been a major focus for us at Engage this year, however we do intend to extend our Graduate Programme into new departments next year; such as digital marketing, design and UX.
Over the summer months, our graduates Alice, Johnny and Adam and placement student David have had intensive external training on the .NET technology and development standards - followed by extensive training on our various technology platforms –especially Episerver, with masterclasses and workshops by our Head of Product Strategy, Janaka Fernando.
As their confidence and abilities have strengthened, the grads have now been getting to grips with project work and getting stuck into life at Engage and here’s what they think of it so far:
Studied: Software Engineering at University of Ulster, Jordanstown
How I heard about the Engage Graduate Academy: I heard about the Engage Graduate Programme through a colleague I’d worked with during my university placement. He worked on the UX team at Engage and I was attracted by not only the projects but the company culture too. With about 40 people on the team, the size of Engage appealed to my personality as I like to be more hands on.
What I’m working on: At uni I didn’t get the chance to work on web applications so I was excited to be able to get hands on experience working with C# as my experience was in PHP. It has given me the chance to develop a whole new set of skills.
At the moment, I’m working on the BNP Paribas project. It has afforded me a vast learning curve as it involves languages I was unfamiliar with. We recently completed a successful deploy of two separate applications for the company which required a great deal of team work and constant communication.
What I’ve learned: I’ve picked up so much in the past few months. Working with Angular has been invaluable as it has exposed me to typescript and it’s given me the confidence to explore other languages that I haven’t been exposed to before.
I think graduate programmes are crucial to industries like this for many reasons. From the perspective of a recent graduate it is a very daunting experience to suddenly be out in the world with only what you have learned from university. Graduate programmes afford the new starts to find their feet both skill-wise and personally as they can see where their strengths lie and how they can best work within a company. I know personally I have learnt more practical applications for my skills in the last three months working here than my entire time at university which is invaluable for a graduate.
How I’ve found Engage: Working at a full service agency like Engage has shown me the range of career options that there are in this field. I can’t say where my career will take me but I’d maybe like to delve into project management, as I am a very up front and talkative person who would enjoy the opportunity to be more involved with the clients themselves.
For me personally, what I like most about Engage would be the company culture of “work hard, play hard”. Everybody gets on very well and there is a great sense of community and work ethic throughout the whole company which is backed up by everyone giving 110% all the time. It is a very motivating atmosphere to work within, as well as having a laugh!
Studying: Computing Science at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown
How I heard about the Engage Graduate Academy: I saw the advert for Engage on my university’s internal placement recruit portal and applied straight away because the advert sold Engage as a challenging and interesting place to work in a field that I enjoy working in.
What I’m working on: Currently I’m developing a native IOS app for an iPad mounted 3D scanner for a company called Pegasus. Using the scanner they scan feet and then using the 3D model of the feet create orthotic insole for shoes to support the feet. I've also been working on a CRM for a local organisation called Legal Island. I've really enjoyed having the chance to work on such an important project.
What I’ve learned: So far, this placement has been really valuable as it has given me the opportunity to practice in a real world environment. It has helped build my confidence and taught me vital skills that you don’t learn in a classroom.
How I’ve found Engage: From a technical point of view, I really enjoy the challenge and the variety of work. The atmosphere and general banter in the office makes it a fun place to be.
It’s shown me that this is the line of work I want to be in. Since learning about the technical aspect of computing I’ve always wanted to work building software and applications across a range of platforms to meet the needs of companies and individuals.
Studied Computing and Information Technology at Queens University, Belfast
How I heard about the Engage Graduate Academy: I heard about Engage through the Queens University Graduate opportunity emails and I applied for the job because I felt like the job description sounded great and the company itself seemed to be growing extremely fast, had a great reputation, online presence and it was something I felt that I wanted to be a part of.
What I'm working on: At the minute I am currently working on the Engage website redesign updates, Analysys Mason home page redesign and also the Irish Ferries ‘Name our Ship’ campaign pages. I didn't expect to get the chance to work on client projects for such big names so soon. It's been a great experience.
What I've learned: The most valuable thing I have learned so far is the importance of communication when working in a team dynamic, especially when dealing with client deadlines. Asking a lot of questions is key.
How I've found Engage: I enjoy the atmosphere in the office, the support from everyone since I started to help make me feel really welcome .
I've really enjoyed the challenge and responsibility of working on big projects with great new technologies.
Even just a few months in, I can really see the value of a Graduate Programme like this with the training and development opportunities I've had, as well as the level of support in starting my career.
Studied Software Engineering at Queen's University, Belfast
How I heard about the Engage Graduate Programme: I heard about Engage through the careers website at Queens and it also came up as an advertisement on my Facebook. Before I saw the graduate advertisement, I hadn't heard a lot about Engage but when I went on the website I was really impressed with the clients mentioned and knew that this was the company I wanted to work for.
What I'm working on: Since starting at Engage I have been part of a new dedicated helpdesk support team. It has been enjoyable because I get to work on a large range of our clients' projects and I have been able to learn a lot in such a short space of time. That variety has been the best bit for me as I get to face a new challenge every day.
What I've learned: Never be afraid to ask questions. When I first started I sometimes hesitated to ask questions because I felt I would be keeping other people back from their work. But at Engage people continually encouraged me to ask questions. It has been important for my learning since I've come here and you only affect your learning when you don’t ask those questions.
How I've found Engage: There's a great working environment. Since day one everyone has been more than happy to help when I'm unsure about something or need some guidance. I really appreciate getting to work with people who have so many years of experience and want to help me sharpen my skills.
Once the Graduate Programme has come to and end, I hope I get the chance to further my career at Engage and continue to be part of a company that's growing so quickly.
Engage is always on the lookout for new talent. If you would like to apply for our future Graduate Academies, please email your CV and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
Gain practical technical experience to support your education
Work on ambitious projects for impressive clients
Gain training on world class technology platforms like Episerver, Microsoft, Avensia
Receive mentoring from skilled and experienced senior developers
Kickstart your career at one of Northern Ireland’s top digital agencies