1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an analyst within CGI doing work between multiple projects and sometimes doing testing for a Justice account. On a day-to-day basis this involves a lot of interaction with different members and teams, being proactive and analysing applications.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Over the 3 years that I completed my Sponsored Degree I gained a multitude of skills by working on several different programmes which gave me different and new experiences, for example in perhaps testing. Any additional qualifications I have completed in this time have largely been related to my soft skills, such as presenting.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoyed my time on the SDP as it had a great benefit for me and I enjoy the work that I do. The company generally is good but at the time of doing the programme then the work-life balance could at times be better and more awareness of the programme internally would have allowed managers to be able to be more supportive of any members in their teams going through the programme (something which has been raised multiple times). But for the most part, the course met my expectations.
4. How valued do you feel by CGI?
Whilst I receive appreciation from most of my managers and the teams I work for etc, I would not necessarily agree that I feel valued by CGI. There have been times where my previous manager has said 'I really want to put you up for a recognition award' but it was never done. Additionally, although having been in the company 3.5 years now and having graduated, there is a stigma that those of us who have come through the programme are still just 'the undergrads' which impacts the way we're viewed and the level of responsibility we're sometimes given by those who don't fully know about the programme internally - it makes me (and others whom I've spoken to) feel less valued because although we've worked hard for a few years now and have completed our qualifications, we are still referred to in a way that now feels belittling. This is something that's been mentioned by members who have left, which I think ties in importantly; if more of us felt genuinely valued after having been invested in for so long, we would be more likely to be retained.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The SDP was well structured in regards to attending university one day a week, it broke the week up well and prevented back and forth between uni and work during the week which would have been difficult to manage. The support provided from the student recruitment team and from the course leader at the University of Winchester is more often than not fantastic. More recognition internally would allow for more encouragement and support from managers who perhaps need to understand that in the evenings etc then you do have university work to do and so you cannot always be working late or going above and beyond during the 3 years of studying.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The support I received from my tutors was generally good and consistent, especially during my final year where my dissertation supervisor was brilliant; she understood the programme and my time concerns and made the final year much easier. In terms of accessing support then both the student recruitment team and the staff at UoW are easily accessible.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
From my managers I have received varying levels of support depending on their understanding of the programme. Where they have understood fully what it is that I was doing then they were very supportive and would also make an effort to ask about how it was going, the little things like that are great and help you feel that the team value that you're doing it in the first place. Where managers were less familiar or not familiar at all with the programme then generally it would take some time for them to be more supportive, or they would not acknowledge going through the programme at all, but this was the minority of managers.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The starting salary was very poor considering the cost of living so close to London and although this increased steadily over the years, it simply was not sufficient. As the salary increased then this did help somewhat but there still needs to be more understanding when creating the package that £13K is a very, very low starting salary for someone living half an hour out of London, especially when their rent etc comes to more than half of that salary in the year (I do believe the starting salary has gone up to 14K now but I'm unsure of how much of a difference this would really make). In regards to the salary now I have graduated, this is still unsatisfactory. With three years industry experience and knowledge of the company, we are paid the same as graduates who have come in straight from University. I know that a lot of us feel the same way in that this seems awfully unfair and becomes quite frustrating, especially given that generally with that experience we have then we tend to have more responsibilities than new joiners. The additional benefits we receive are good, i.e healthcare etc; these are much more positive points and the option to enrol and determine which benefits you would like for each year is useful as it allows you to spend a proportion of your salary that you can actually afford to be using. The variety of benefits are also great too.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
CGI have plenty of volunteering opportunities and the range of them available is great as it allows you to help out where it best suits you. We also have a great sports and social club which puts on regular activities.
9a. Would you recommend CGI to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
I would recommend a friend to CGI less for the company itself but more for the programme, qualification and overall concept that getting a degree whilst getting full time experience is fantastic.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to CGI? *
The application process and interviews are really nothing to worry about; the student recruitment team do a great job of ensuring the assessment days and application process are quite relaxing and when going for it then just be yourself, cliché as it sounds.
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