Investing in young talent through work placements

At a time where the rail industry is rapidly changing, supporting the growth of STEM skills has never been more crucial. As the industry evolves, so too will the talent pool and the diversity of skills needed to ensure the successful future of rail.

Since 3Squared’s inception, we’ve always been incredibly passionate about collaborating and investing in young talent to drive digital innovation and new ways of working. Despite the obvious disruptions of Covid-19, 3Squared has experienced continued success, and it’s been a strangely perfect time to welcome fresh blood into the business.

One of the key collaborations we’re extremely proud of is our long-standing partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. Both the company’s founding directors, Tim and James, are Sheffield Hallam graduates themselves, and understand how invaluable internships can be.

We’ve worked closely with Sheffield Hallam for a number of years to provide placements for students in-between their second and third year of study. We also recruit students from other universities too. It allows us to act as mentors to the next generation of digital workers, giving them a taster for life after graduating, while giving something back to the Sheffield community.

Each year, we try to take on students in at least three departments. Last year, we were lucky enough to be part of Sheffield Hallam’s Preferred Placement scheme. We were one of six companies to pitch our placement scheme directly to the students in a lecture theatre; a much-coveted opportunity, to say the least. We also attend the careers fair every year.

We believe a placement year is a vital part of personal and professional development, and an excellent introduction to industry life. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch the students flourish and we’re so pleased to offer such a scheme. But it’s also highly beneficial for us too. The interns bring fresh ideas and new ways of thinking, which is intrinsic for innovation and the future of the digital railway.

In light of Rail Week, which aims to celebrate the diverse career opportunities available across the rail sector, we spoke to some of our placement students to find out about their experience at 3Squared and what their role involves.

Dom Petrauskas, Junior QA Engineer

“I am a computer science student, currently doing my placement year as part of my course at Sheffield Hallam University. 3Squared was one of the companies involved with the university placement partner scheme, and one of my modules required me to apply to several companies as part of my assignment. After all of the employer presentations, 3Squared stood out to me the most because of the role, work environment and the industry the company is involved with. I applied, followed through with the interview process and secured the job.

As a junior QA engineer, I get to test software. During this process, not only do I get exposed to the technicalities and role-specific tasks, but I also get to learn about the industry (both software and rail), and develop friendships. All of these aspects are, in my opinion, the key reasons why doing a placement year is so important.”

Jacob Minor, Junior Software Engineer

“I am a junior software engineer on the web development team. This role involves many different tasks such as fixing bugs, developing new features on products in the RailSmart suite, working with peers to ensure that the feature and code I, and they, produce is to an efficient and good standard.

At university, I am studying a Bachelor’s degree in software engineering. Doing this course has allowed me to gain the skills and knowledge which I require to do my placement at 3Squared. I found the placement position at 3Squared through the Preferred Placement scheme run by the university. After attending a talk by 3Squared and speaking to many different people at the company careers fair, I decided that this placement was the one where I was going to succeed and learn the most.

I feel that this placement year at 3Squared will be valuable to my learning as it will allow me to gain industry knowledge and work with people who will be able to pass their knowledge onto me. Not only will it be beneficial to my learning, the connections I will make at 3Squared, I am sure, will be invaluable to my future after I finish my degree.”

Hamza Mahmood, Graduate Developer

“I am a graduate developer who returned to 3Squared upon completion of my software engineering course at Sheffield Hallam University. I had first heard of 3Squared during a guest lecture at university, after which I attended the careers fair later in the year. Here I was told that I could submit my CV in order to apply for the placement role. Following the interview process, I was informed that I had secured the role.

My placement year began in July 2018 and was over at the end of August 2019. During this time, I had built upon skills acquired during university whilst also learning some new ones. My placement year consisted of mainly development-based tasks such as the fixing of bugs and implementation of new features. I also had the opportunity to spend some time in a quality assurance-based role which put a whole new perspective on things, and really taught me the importance of the quality of code and the application as a whole. The placement year was great, it was challenging at times, but this only provides further opportunities for learning, especially when colleagues are always happy to help.”