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Graduate scheme success for alumna at American Express

Graduate scheme success for alumna at American Express

Published: 13 Mar 2023

Claudia Silva

Being able to do a placement year during my degree allowed me to put the theory into practice

Claudia, Undergraduate, Alumni

Full-Stack Software Engineer, American Express

Computer Science (Software Engineering) BSc - 2018

From Portugal

Country of Residence: UK

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

I graduated in July 2018 and had a Graduate Scheme with American Express lined up for September. The graduate scheme consisted of a rotational programme where I had the opportunity to rotate every 6 months; I did 3 rotations in QA, Back-end and Front-end before rolling off the programme into a Full-Stack Software Engineer role. I have been involved in many volunteering opportunities, such as going to schools and colleges to promote working in technology and Tech Girls, where we teach Year 8 girls about coding and the different roles within technology. It has been very fulfilling so far!

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

A typical day at American Express consists of a lot coffee catch ups and a lot of team collaboration and communication. We follow Agile practices, so we work in bi-weekly iterations to consistently release working software. We have daily meetings where we discuss any issues or blockers. We then have our user stories (tasks) that we work on; we work individually and as a team to get things done.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career so far is probably all the external projects I have had the opportunity to work on alongside my day to day role. I have participated in Hackathons for start-ups and worked with the Enactus Society at Liverpool University to help enhance a Java course they were running in local colleges. I have given talks in secondary schools to inspire young girls to get into technology and hosted internal tech-related activity days for children aged between 7-12.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

Brunel helped me gain independence and learn how to balance my work and social life. Whilst at Brunel I grasped the foundations of Computer Science; being able to do a placement year during my degree allowed me to put the theory into practice. My placement year really helped me prioritise my work in final year and I felt a lot more relaxed in final year in comparison.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I chose to study at Brunel because when I was visiting different universities, the way Brunel ran the course stood out to me as we used Finch robots in first year to help us learn programming; it was a more interactive way to learn and at the time no other university was doing that. I would recommend Brunel because it has great prospects in terms of placements and the PDC, and I recommend that anyone doing a degree does a work placement year as it is highly rewarding.

What is your best memory of studying here?

My best memory of Brunel is being Chair of the Dance Club in my final year; I had been involved with the club since fresher’s week in first year and I loved it! It was my escape from all the assignments and exams, and we took part in competitions and put on shows.

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

My advice for new students would be to make the most of the university experience, especially in first year; socialise with lots of people, join as many societies and clubs as you can, and find a balance between your workload and having fun. Most of all stay chilled; you will meet your deadlines and find your way of working that works best for you! You’re too blessed to be stressed!

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

My advice for new graduates starting their careers would be to soak up all the knowledge you can whilst also finding a balance during work to do your job, but also do things that help your personal growth. Outside of work, make you sure you still make time to socialise and keep up with your hobbies and interests.