DFT, Early Careers, Graduate, People, Software

Louise McKeown – Graduate Software Developer

What did you study in college?

Software development.

With this programme, are you now working in your desired industry?

Yes, I am working as a software developer on the cybersecurity team in Jaguar Land Rover.

What drew you to Jaguar Land Rover when you were seeking work as a graduate?

What mainly drew me to Jaguar Land Rover were the prospects and opportunities that would be open to me. I had heard about the work they were doing and it seemed exciting and interesting and something I wanted to be part of.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I expected that I would gain good experience and skills through the programme, which would enable me to become more confident and be capable of contributing to my team.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

Initially, I spent the first few weeks reading documentation and setting up any software and tools I would need. I was also brought up to speed on the projects that were been carried out by my team and that I would soon be working on.

I then began with small tasks that helped me get used to the environment I would be working with.

Did the scope of your work change as the programme progressed?

As you gain experience and become more confident in your role, the work does change. You are given more difficult tasks and more responsibility to work on your own initiative.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

A typical day begins with checking emails, followed by our daily stand-up meeting where we discuss the tasks that have been completed the previous day and what we will be working on for the day.

The rest of the day is spent working at my desk developing and testing any code that I have written, and carrying out any other tasks assigned to me. I also attend any meetings I may have.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees’?

As expected, more experienced employees have a greater level of responsibility and workload than graduates. They are also tasked with answering questions graduates may have and providing guidance and training.

Do you feel more prepared for working life after completing this programme?

Yes, I am more confident in my skills and feel I have gained the relevant knowledge I need to continue to learn and progress and grow my career.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Jaguar Land Rover?

There are many opportunities available for graduates at Jaguar Land Rover. There is a variety of different teams and roles available to suit a variety of skills.

The work is interesting and changes from day to day. As the company is growing, there are also many experienced developers that you can learn and gain knowledge from.

DFT, People, Software

Margaret Toohey – Senior Software Developer

What is your role within Jaguar Land Rover?

I work as a senior software developer in the automated driving department, working on the AI/algorithms team.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

Every day is different; some days I work mainly at my desk, some days I could be testing in the cars.

A pretty typical day would start with catching up on emails, and then our daily team meeting to chat about our current tasks and anything blocking us completing our work.

The next few hours would be at my desk, prototyping and generating data. After lunch, I would test the prototype code, or go out and test the software in the car if needs be.

Depending on how testing went, the code would be reworked then to improve it. Software development can be quite iterative, so it could take a few cycles of coding-testing-reworking before it’s done.

What types of project do you work on?

We work on traditional algorithms and machine-learning approaches for all the layers in the automated driving stack: perception, fusion, path-planning and motion control.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

Apart from coding skills (my main experience would be in C and C++ but I’d use MATLAB and Python for prototyping), I think critical thinking and problem-solving would be the skills I use most. I’d also use data analysis and reporting skills quite a bit.

Teamwork is really important, too. Being able to work well with your team and meet deadlines not only makes work life more pleasant, but helps with knowledge transfer and exchange of ideas, and generally leads to more productive work.

Honestly though, I think the main skill a software developer needs is patience because testing, finding and fixing bugs can take a lot of time.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

The hardest part of my day would be when a model or simulation or something I’ve been working on for some time just will not work as expected. It can be frustrating sometimes but having a good team to bounce ideas or issues off helps keep me sane.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

I know everyone says it but coffee breaks are vital. Well, coffee/tea/water/juice breaks. I think getting away from the desk and getting some air or a change of scenery for a few minutes can help clear your head and give a fresh perspective, which can lead to better productivity.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

The main thing I focused on when starting to work as a software developer was coding skills (I studied physics in university so was not trained as a developer), but I think problem-solving is a skill that is far more important to the role than I expected.

Being able to find different ways to approach problems is really important, particularly in automated driving, which is quite a cutting-edge sector.

How has the role of software developer changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

Automated driving software is possibly one of the best examples of a sector that is growing and evolving rapidly right now. Sensors (camera, radar, lidar, ultrasonics etc) are continually evolving and we see more and more sensors getting put on to cars.

The compute power available to process the huge volume of data is increasing and that, along with cloud services, means the automotive industry is in a position to do some really cool stuff with all that data. So, I would say the role of software developers in automotive has become more exciting as the sector has evolved.

What do you enjoy most about being a software developer?

I really enjoy how varied the job is. Apart from coding and sensor modelling, I get hands-on experience with hardware, like the sensors, and also get to drive the cars for testing and data capture etc. Getting to test in cars like the Jaguar F-Type and the Range Rover is also a fun aspect of the job.

DFT, People, Software

Gido van Wijk – Software Engineer

What did you study in college?

I did a master’s in electronics and embedded systems.

With this programme, are you now working in your desired industry?

If the desired industry is software engineering, then yes. I wasn’t specifically aiming for the automotive industry but, with all the technology involved in modern cars, it is a perfect place to grow as a software engineer.

What drew you to Jaguar Land Rover when you were seeking work as a graduate?

A few things drew me to Jaguar Land Rover Ireland – the location of the office, the dynamic environment (the Ireland site was in the middle of setting up at the time) and the challenging and exciting projects I would get to work on. Also, I liked the cars.

What expectations did you have before you began the programme?

I was expecting to work on new automotive technologies, learn about the automotive industry and its specifications, and write code to make ECUs (engine control modules) work.

What duties and responsibilities were you given initially?

I started working on my current project almost straight away, and was one of the first to join that team, so my initial work was all about writing the base software the component is relying on.

Did the scope of your work change as the programme progressed?

As with most industry software, it needs to be tested and fully verified to make sure it works as expected. My work changed from writing the core software to a more integration/test-oriented scope.

Moreover, I had the opportunity to interview new candidates as we’re hiring a lot of talented people, but also attend college-organised career fairs.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

We follow the Agile and Scrum development processes, which consists of two-week ‘sprints’ (a sprint is a set of tasks that need to be developed during the sprint time) and daily stand-ups.

A typical day for me would thus be working on my tasks, reporting my work at our daily stand-up, checking some emails and participating in the team’s Agile process.

How do your responsibilities compare to more experienced employees?

In my team, we are all writing code for the same software component and everyone is responsible for reviewing and testing code of other developers to make sure we are delivering good code. It is then up to the tech lead of our team to finally integrate the reviewed code in the main build.

Do you feel more prepared for working life after completing this programme?

It wasn’t really a programme I was on, but working as a graduate at JLR Ireland is definitely a good way to learn a lot of things on the overall development process and the automotive industry as well as technical skills.

Why should someone apply to the graduate programme at Jaguar Land Rover?

You should apply because there are plenty of things to learn, many challenging projects and a lot of talented people that will be happy to help you and teach you some things on the way.

DFT, People, Software

Jason Kelly – Software Developer

What is your role within Jaguar Land Rover?

Software developer.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

There isn’t really a typical day because it is always changing but, if I had to describe it: first thing in the morning, there is a meeting with your group to discuss any current issues and the plan of action. Then it’s time to act on this plan of action, which means coding, problem-solving etc.

This sounds straightforward but, because we are working in an area that is new and growing, lots of problems can arise.

What types of project do you work on?

I work on a lot of proof-of-concepts for the vehicle architecture. I also spend time writing applications, which can range from embedded coding to front-end websites. I have even done some graphics.

I am very lucky because my degree was in multimedia programming and design, so this enables me to work in a lot of areas.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

Some of the skills would be people skills, which come into play when working with your team. Each member has their own way and you must try to find a way to work with them.

The main skill for my job would have to be problem-solving. I feel this skill is important in your job and life.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

I find the hardest part of my day is trying to stop myself from working and go home. I get very involved with my work and I find it hard to walk way.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

I find if you have your goals set out in the morning and plan your tasks, you will have a path to follow and shouldn’t lose focus.

Another thing I find very helpful when developing or problem-solving is to walk away or work on another task if you are stuck on something.

You can look at the same thing for too long and, as a result, you cannot see the problem; but, by clearing your head and coming back to it, you can see this through fresh eyes and have a better chance to see the problem.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

To be honest, I wasn’t very surprised with anything, apart from the amount of trust I was given in projects.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

This is new ground for the company and myself, working in a software centre for a car manufacturing company. The world is changing and technology is not slowing down, so the demand for cars to evolve is high.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I love to problem-solve. In my job, I get to do this every day and it challenges me. The more I solve, the more enjoyment I get from it.

DFT, People, Software

Shalom Nazir – Security Engineer

Where are you from?

I am from Kannur in Kerala, a state in South India. It is a sunny coastal place with lots of palm trees and beautiful beaches.

How long have you been in Ireland?

Since September 2016.

What prompted your decision to move here?

There were a few reasons behind this. A longer stay-back option in Ireland, shorter and lighter postgraduate options than a master’s in technology, and University of Limerick (UL) was offering a scholarship for its master’s in information and network security course.

What’s your role in Jaguar Land Rover?

I work as a graduate security engineer.

How would you describe your working environment?

Good craic. My workmates are talented, sociable, helpful and a lot of fun, which makes work that much more enjoyable. It’s a great place for graduates.

What do you like most about your job?

The variety of work that I get to do. And, of course, the fact that one day, when I see a certain car on the road, I can proudly say, ‘My work’s gone in there.’ I can’t wait!

Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?

Apart from the fact that I don’t get to see my family as often as I want, as the travel time to get back home is very long (sometimes two days, door to door), I’ve adjusted well and find Ireland a charming place.

What surprised you about moving to Ireland?

For such a small country, there is abundant natural beauty and places to go. I mean, really, my family’s coming over to visit me soon and I have been trying to list down the places I want to take them to, but I can’t fit it all into two weeks. I have too many favourites!

How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?

The sports and social club here organises a lot of events and I find it’s a great way to socialise, blend in and have fun.

What do you like most about your adopted home?

The fact that Limerick is a relatively quiet place, which was also the reason why I chose Limerick over Dublin. The quality of life is better, in my opinion. Sports and recreation are big here and I love that. It’s nice to go play tennis or go for a swim in UL after a day’s work – helps keep peace of mind.