BAE Systems - A graduate career in defence, with a twist

Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts
Team GradAustralia
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A graduate career in defence, with a twist
 
If you’re considering a career in defence once you graduate, you might assume it will require slogging your way through military training and adding a ‘sir’ to the end every sentence.
 
However, if you’d prefer to build the cogs in the machine rather than just be one, there are other options to consider.

BAE Systems is one of Australia’s most versatile defence contractors, and is the name behind some of the military’s most advanced products, from armoured vehicles and aircraft, to guided weapons and other support systems.

Graduate and internship opportunities at BAE Systems are just as varied, spanning a range of technology and support programs. 

For those of you looking to apply for a graduate program in such a varied company, you will no doubt have questions. What type of skills are they looking for? And what can you expect working as a graduate at BAE Systems? 

We sat down with Cathy Riach, National Recruitment and Resourcing Manager for BAE Systems, to find out.
 
“One thing we look for is flexibility” says Cathy. “We are looking for graduates who can deal with change.”

Engineering graduates gain exposure to different parts of the engineering life cycle through rotations throughout different programs or parts of the business. Some graduates will be rotated into areas that aren’t directly related to their area of specialisation, which requires on-the-job learning but provides a greater degree of exposure.
 
“You usually don’t learn to be a senior systems engineer, for example, at university. That’s something you develop into with time and experience.”

Cathy says BAE Systems isn’t a place for people who wish to be spoon fed – it’s an environment for those who want to be challenged, and extend themselves.

“The graduates here can already think for themselves,” Cathy said. “They might not have a great deal of real-world experience, but that won’t be for long.”

While graduates are expected to think for themselves, there is still guidance at hand. Graduates will be supervised by senior mentors, who will be on hand to pass on skills vital the role. 

“We will support their career, but they have to own it.”

So what are the downsides? Who shouldn’t apply? 

Being a military contractor, you might think people who are anti-war should give it a miss. But that’s not so.
 

“We want people to be proud of what they’re doing. We’re not the Army, Navy or Air Force. We provide support to those people.”
 
Being a defence contractor, naturally suggests  a high focus on process and governance. Checkboxes and regulations are a part of the process, designed to ensure “mission critical” equipment doesn’t fail and to ensure the safety of both the users and the broader community.
 
“If you’re not up for that, perhaps a more commercially oriented environment is a better fit for you.  Our work requires a detail focus.”

BAE Systems places an emphasis on transparency of both pros and cons in its graduate roles. They want to make sure that when they advertise a role, what you see is what you get.
 
“We don’t promise what we can’t deliver. What you read is the absolute truth.”

For a sector that is sometimes associated with secrecy and rigidity, BAE Systems offers a refreshing take for graduates considering a career in defence.


About the Author:
Dave Roberts is a Sydney-based Journalist, Photographer, and Videographer. He specialises in graduate and internship reporting as Digital Media Editor at GradAustralia, and has extensive experience reporting across the news, travel, and music industries.
Twitter: @daveeroberts