IT Graduates and students: An interview with Annabelle MacLeod of RGU
This week we turn our attention to graduates in IT – starting with Annabelle Macleod from Aberdeen.
Can you tell us more about your role in Total?
I’m currently doing a one year placement with the business application team, as part of my degree in IT at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen. On a day to day basis the larger part of my work is maintenance and fixing bugs for applications that are not your typical of the shelf pieces of software. The scheme is like a sandwich year or a year in industry which effectively makes my degree five years long.
What’s it like working in that department?
It’s interesting! People send you reports and you have to work out what’s gone wrong. Sometimes of course it can be user error but sometimes something quite novel has occurred. The error message usually gives a clue but not always. Sometimes it can be quite complicated and we have to work backwards to work out what has happened. We also do modifications and enhancements. Workers will come to us saying “wouldn’t it be great if this program could also do this?” – and we try to make the changes.
Sounds like a great scheme. Was it competitive to get on to?
It was certainly competitive but I was given great support by RGU. I should say that choosing the course at RGU was partly influenced by their great program for placement schemes. It really gives you a great experience of managing workflow and being a “real world” environment.
What made you decide to get into IT?
Well my background is in the sciences. I have a degree in Biology and for a few years I worked at the University of Aberdeen as a researcher. Originally I came over from France for a 4mth placement but was offered a spot on the Erasmus exchange programme and decided to stay for another two years to finish my degree. It was in Aberdeen that I met my husband who works in oil and gas. He was offered a position in Houston which meant we moved there for a couple of years where I decided to change career path. I was attracted to IT because it’s an expanding and diversifying as an industry offering a wide range of career opportunities, while making it relatively easy to relocate if necessary.
Do you become involved with contractors during your day to day work?
We work with companies that help us with licensing and other things that we might need some outside help on. But these are usually larger, nationwide companies.
What advice would you give to students and graduates?
Work hard – nothing comes for free. Also get involved in things that take your interest. Societies, teams etc whatever it is. These are really good for your CV and really good for making things happen for you in general. I don’t just mean focus on IT do a broader range of things than that. Getting stuck in any one thing hurts your communication skills I feel. So doing something like a sport it good for your social skills and communicating confidence.
Do you feel like the situation has changed, or is changing, for women in IT?
Well the head of my school is woman so maybe that’s something of a good sign! RGU has done some work encouraging women into the male dominated science subjects in high schools. I think that the way to encourage more women into these subjects is to make women more visible so it doesn’t seem so male dominated.
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First published on Company Connecting February 2017