[Career Advice #3] Maryam Umar on job hunting as a software engineer in the UK
How many of you are interested in becoming a quality engineer? We are extremely pleased to share our interview with Maryam Umar! Maryam is a quality engineering manager at Capital One, an American bank and credit card company with an office in London.
She is originally from Pakistan, but she moved to London 13 years ago. She received most of her education back home, mostly Computer Science, then went to Kings College for her masters in Advanced Software Engineering. Are you ready for her stories?
- How did your studies help you form your career?
I was hugely influenced by my professor. He was very passionate about his teaching in software testing and that was inspiring. I wrote my thesis about it and started looking for a job as a software tester.
2. Can you explain your daily life as a quality engineering manager?
This is my first managerial role. I have a gazillion meetings every week, and that’s the nature of my role. I am basically the connection between the program team and direct engineers. Other than that, I do a lot of work with our women in tech group at Capital One. I do that not only because I am a woman, but because I want to make sure that everyone has equal opportunity and that it’s fair for everybody.
I also am a huge fan of public speaking, although it still scares me. I try to run things like lightning talks and meet-ups. It’s an attempt to enable anyone to speak about anything. A lot of people say that software engineers don’t really need to interact with other people, but that is completely wrong. We need to do demos every fortnight, every team and everyone needs to do it. The better you get at demo, the closer you get to what customer wants.
3. Capital One was chosen as one of the best places to work in the UK. What do you think is the reason?
I never wanted to work for Capital One, but when I went in for the interview, I was blown away by how nice the people were. It’s important to know that people at your workplace are genuine, willing to learn, passionate and well-driven; people that you can talk about your hobbies or can share personal stories with. I find it very homely.
4. How do you job search?
I spent around 2 months looking for my first job. It’s hard because there are bad recruiting agencies and there is a sea of dead job postings. A lot of them are misleading the candidates. Every morning at 10 a.m. I would start my job search, submitting applications every day, at the time Monster was quite huge, now you can use Indeed or Glassdoor.
My suggestions are:
First, I used LinkedIn and Glassdoor more than anything. The reason why I used LinkedIn is because I can directly connect with the recruiter or the talent acquisition partner for the company I am looking at. Try to create the direct contact, instead of being another name on the database.
Second, when you see a posting by a recruiting agency, instead of emailing them, you can try to phone them. Making a network, one-to-one network — it makes a big impact, and it shows that you are really keen to work with them.
Third, save the contacts — For your next job hunting, you might find it helpful to reach out to them, but be careful with the type of relationship you establish with the recruiter. It’s ok to share your personal feelings, but you need to make sure that you don’t portray yourself as a person who runs away from a problem every time.
5. CV, cover letter or interview tips?
For CVs, don’t make the mistake of putting ‘education’ section on top, unless that’s the only thing you have. And make sure to get your friends to read your CV and reread, you don’t want the recruiters to find typo on yours! Also feel free to be creative: you can create your own website or use different frameworks. If you are looking for your second job onwards, you can write something like ‘I am looking for the next challenge’ on your LinkedIn account. It’s always useful to have a summary section. If you don’t have work experience, share your philosophies and principles.
At an interview, recruiters will want to know about how you would react when you have to convince someone and/or know more about your communication skills. In that case, you should:
– Show up to the interview with general examples (3–4). When you are a student, talk about group works.
– Talk more about your approach, not the result.
– Make sure to do a good research for the company.
– Don’t be afraid to challenge your interviewers, however, respect the limits.
– If you are nervous, just say it! — if you want to use laptop or phone and make the setting as comfortable as possible (but make sure to ask them before you do anything).
You don’t have to do everything that Maryam did, but remember to turn those tips into your skills!
Get Highred @www.highre.co.