Ruhi-Sabah graduated from City University with a BEng in Computer Systems Engineering. She spent her placement year as a development engineer in the Paris office of an automotive company and now works in technical sales as a systems engineer at Cisco.
Technology is at the centre of everything we do now. It's not just about an IT department looking after processes for an organisation. Everyone is touched by it all the time. If you work in finance or medicine, the most modern, most effective capabilities you have are almost certainly being facilitated by a network, so by becoming a network engineer you are influencing change in more ways than you can imagine.
I work for Cisco, and when I speak to my customers I am not really discussing a technology solution but talking about something fundamental to what it is that they do. Technology is not in a silo any more; it is part of the discussion. So when I am asked why I became a network engineer, I say show me another sector that can change things the way technology can.
I studied maths, physics and French at A-level and was fortunate enough to get selected for the Headstart scheme which is run by the Engineering Development Trust. It showed me what it would be like to study engineering at university and I found I was hooked.
The big thing that happened to me at university, however, was my placement year. I applied to become a development engineer in the Paris office of an automotive company called Delphi, which was originally part of General Motors. It was a technical role and I was up against candidates with Masters and PhDs. But I had done some courses with Headstart on interview techniques, among other things, and I knew that I wasn't going to win on the academic criteria so I emphasised my pro-activeness, my attitude, and what I would bring to their organisation, and got the job! It was a fantastic year. They put me in the testing department and I developed a tool that would automate a lot of their very manual processes with a language called Matlab Simulink. The tool was rolled out within the whole European market after I left.
After I graduated, I was offered a couple of roles, but Cisco was by far the most attractive. It's an international company and I love travelling; it is technical sales and I love speaking to people; and it's a company that really values its Generation Y graduates. You make it what you want, it's not a command-and-control environment and the culture is very collaborative. It's a very inclusive and supportive culture in which you do feel you are making a difference. In fact, it doesn't feel like a job at all; it's what I love doing. It's not nine to five either; it has very flexible working practices so I can work from home, login very early and finish early, or start late and finish late, so it really suits the more flexible lifestyle of younger people. I know I could get a comparable salary elsewhere but I wouldn't get the culture.
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