Before the third year of his Computer Networks degree at Birmingham City University, Mohamad Kurdi did a placement with the IT service desk at ISIS. He was based at the interface between the staff and users, and the computing department. “This meant I learnt a lot of technical skills, but also communication skills," he explains; “As well as these, I also improved a lot with my time management, especially task prioritisation. This was useful during the final year of my degree."
During his placement year, Mohamad lived in Didcot, and socialised outside of work with the other placement students. His university required him to present on the work he'd done, and he was also able to give a tour of the facility to his university tutor, who was very impressed by the scale of the facility. The insight into such a large organisation also gave him ideas for his final year university project, which was based on the security of cloud storage systems.
The placement was a success not just for Mohamad, but also for ISIS, and he was offered a position on the STFC graduate scheme to be taken up after he had finished his final year, which he gratefully accepted. Now, just starting his placement in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, he feels very lucky to have been able to secure a job.
“I didn't have any exams scheduled for this year and so was able to complete my final year project and other coursework remotely," he explains; “it was a bit odd getting my degree certificate through the post though: I hope they are able to organise a graduation ceremony in the future. With all this going on, knowing that I had a position secure made my final year less stressful. A lot of my friends from university are really struggling to find employment."
As well as Mohamad, two other students who were on placements in the same year have also joined the graduate scheme; “we have a head start on the others, as we have already worked at ISIS, and understand the way things work. Although starting a job remotely has been very difficult, being familiar with the organisation has helped a lot."
The STFC graduate scheme is two years long, and includes a series of six-month placements around STFC. Mohamad's first placement is with the new development operations software development team in ISIS, known as “DevOps".
As for the future, Mohamad is interested in the variety offered by the different placements, and believes his time at STFC may not just be for the two years of the graduate scheme, “but probably forever!"