If you require a healthy dose of variation and mental stimulation in your life in order to approach anything resembling contentment, a graduate programme might be just what you need. Here is why.
What prompted you to apply for this graduate programme?
It was the first graduate programme I applied for. I was captivated by NNIT’s presentation and their values resonated with me. Sometimes you see a lot of branding and marketing material that seeks to project an inflated image of a company, but once you get there you realize it’s not real. A friend of mine who worked at NNIT told me that it’s not just smoke and mirrors there - the message the company communicates through its web page is indeed reflective of how business is conducted on a daily basis. Having worked there for two months now, I can wholeheartedly attest to that. The values they extensively talk about are deeply anchored in the company and color the way they approach work - it was what drew me to the company in the first place. The impression I was left with from the conversations I had with recruiters during the interview stage definitely still sticks.
Tweaking and tuning your resume to make it visually appealing would most certainly pay off regardless of the position you’re applying for.
What points did you stress on your CV to grab the attention of recruiters? What advice would you give to future applicants for the Graduate Programme at NNIT?
The first is really standard advice. Make your CV stand out by putting some colors on it. Limit your text. Make it pop visually, so that when you go through 300 CVs, this is one that will leave a lasting impression. I actually talked about this with our HR contact, Tania, and she recalled my CV because it stood out. Tweaking and tuning your resume to make it visually appealing would most certainly pay off regardless of the position you’re applying for.
NNIT like to see signs of excitement and a keen interest in the field you are trying to break into. I myself wrote a lot about my interest in IT Security and emphasized some of the courses I’ve had throughout university, while at the same time trying to bring my work experience into the picture even if the latter was not directly relatable to the position I was applying for. It would still indicate a personal interest in and passion for this particular industry – trying to hint at what has led me down this path.
How did you tailor your cover letter to the role you were applying for? You already mentioned that you tried to bring your experience and knowledge of this specific industry into the application. Did you elaborate extensively on why you wanted to work in this specific company, apart from being interested in the industry within which they operate?
Definitely. That was one of the main points and also something they dug into during the interviews - why NNIT specifically.
NNIT’s values are: open and honest, conscience-driven and value adding. It is these core values that guide the company’s thinking and actions, and are fundamental for employee behavior. I tried to emphasize those as much as I could in my cover letter and relate to my personal experiences to drive home the idea that the company values reflect my own. I can recall really elaborating on my interpretation of the values in a business context and trying to demonstrate that I align with them.
Which part of the assessment process did you struggle with the most?
NNIT used three tests in the recruitment process. I could do the tests at home and prepared for the interviews. I recommend reflecting on the questions as you go through them, and consider why you answer as you do. In the interviews, I elaborated on my answers. The recruiters determine your suitability to the job requirements and it is clear that there are no right or wrong answers. NNIT’s objective is to establish whether you would be able to handle the relevant work-related activities and fit seamlessly into the team.
One of the tests was a maths test, and this was the hardest for me which I find ironic since I’d normally see myself as a numbers kind of person. I practiced diligently beforehand, I didn’t score that well. The exercise is designed to test your problem-solving mentality, so it’s more about the method you employ and less about the actual outcome.
Another challenging aspect for me was the question of your strengths and weaknesses which most people prepare for with a standard response. What I’ve discovered, however, is that recruiters really dig into it, and if it is suspected that you are not being authentic in the answers you present, that will be noticed at some point.
You can be buzzing with excitement and initiative and that’s great, but if your personality is not a match, the odds of landing the job are not good.
How well-prepared did you go into the assessment?
I prepared quite a lot. I read up on the company and tried to frame my responses in a way that demonstrated my deep interest in getting this particular job. If you really want to come out on top you should have a high level of self-insight. Show up for the interview fully prepared to answer questions such as where you see yourself in five years; what your strengths and weaknesses are; which division of the company you want to work in and why, etc. Prepare several examples to prove your points, and ask colleagues and classmates for feedback on how they see you. The potential payoff is definitely worth the effort.
The kind of person you are means a great deal to NNIT. You can be buzzing with excitement and initiative and that’s great, but if your personality is not a match, the odds of landing the job are not good. The best thing to do is to find out if the company would be a good fit for you - you wouldn’t want to work too hard on progressing down the wrong path. If you feel, on the other hand, that it ticks all your boxes, you’d have much easier time coming up with all the right reasons as to why you’d be a good match for them. It all boils down to compatibility.
What aspect of the graduate programme have you enjoyed the most?
I take a special interest in IT Security and it was my hope to develop those skills in a more practical context. I was thrown into the Identity and Access Management department immediately. I was entrusted with some smaller tasks in the beginning, but when I demonstrated that I could handle them well, more and more responsibilities would be assigned to me to the point where I’ve become a full-blown project member. It is truly fascinating. I get to meet a lot of people in the company as I work across different departments, which also helps me gain a better and more comprehensive understanding of NNIT.
How did it feel to be the new kid on the block?
Effortless, I’d say. We all have a mentor, some even have several, depending on the department you end up in and the resources that they have at their disposal. I personally have two mentors.
We have a buddy programme as well, which is created to ease our transition into the new workplace. We are matched with a previous graduate so we get the peer support that we need. It can really come in handy when you have questions that people from your department can’t provide an answer to.
We also have monthly meetings with the HR manager, Tania, to reflect on the graduate process.
What kind of projects are you working on?
I am primarily working on a project where we are replacing an entire system. We’ve been developing it for quite a while and are now in the testing phase. You start from square one and work in an agile way to ensure everything is well thought out. That’s half of what I am spending my time on. The rest of the time I’m focusing on service development.
Where do you see yourself after completing the graduate programme?
Definitely working within Security!
Feeling apprehensive about making a decision as to whether a graduate programme would be a good fit for you? Waiting for circumstances to nudge you in a particular direction? Let us pitch in with an extra story or two of how being a graduate could enrich you personally and professionally, and bring you much needed clarity around your career aspirations.