On the Job with Ricky from IR
Ricky Ratnayake is a graduate software engineer at Integrated Research, in 2014 he gained a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Science (Advanced), University of Sydney before joining Integrated Research in 2015.
What attracted you to the program?
I was eager to break into a world of ideas and learn from the best in the field. At the same time, I wanted a real sense of ownership and value over the work that I do. IR offered both – an established company with a wealth of expertise, it is also small enough that one person can have a meaningful impact.
Has your role been what you expected?
I wasn’t sure what to expect – but it’s been a very pleasant surprise. I think most people view software engineering as a mundane activity, hammering away at a keyboard late into the night. But there is a great deal of learning, creativity, design and communication involved. Working in a team of programmers has really highlighted that fact.
There is also a lot of scope to contribute to the company. I am currently helping restructure the graduate program, for example, which is definitely not something I expected to do as a graduate. People here throw a lot of trust and freedom your way, and it’s your responsibility to use that wisely.
Most challenging aspect of your role?
At uni problems are well defined and contained, so it’s easy to figure out what needs to be done. But at work the problems are complex and dynamic. It’s rare to have all the information you need – and even rarer to know the best way of doing something. And the moment you swoop on a great idea, the priorities change.
Fortunately, the more you experience complex challenges, the faster you learn how to break them down and adapt to the changing environment. The people here are always happy to guide you in the right direction.
What are the pluses?
There is a real interest in change and encouraging everyone to ask questions about why they work and trying to understand what really engages people. Employees are also empowered to make decisions and take responsibility.
How does the program work?
It lasts for a year and includes rotations through different teams and areas of the R&D department and to other areas, such as consulting and support. They give you a great understanding of how the business comes together, but are not compulsory.
When the team I started with was about to jump onto an awesome new product and piece of technology, I was able to stay with the team, rather than have to rotate to another area.
How is the work environment?
Surprisingly flexible and adapts to how people want to do things. For example, there’s a foosball table in the rec room, I play indoor soccer every Wednesday and we have staff drinks every month.
The culture is very team focused, so my biggest commitment is to my team members.
Any tips for students?
Stay humble and keep in mind that the world is always going to outpace any university subject.
If you want to learn about the cutting edge ideas and technologies that are going to change the world, you need to brave the unknown and find out where you can interact with people who are passionate about making changes. So watch some TED Talks, register for Meetups and get yourself out there.