Interviews – Telecoms – Apostolos Sarantidis

Apostolos Sarantidis, 26, is a graduate trainee engineer with Vodafone AirTouch. He works in the radio development department – one of six departments within the company’s engineering wing. He told us what attracted him to a career in telecoms

Landing a career in telecoms engineering

What steps did you take to get the career you have now?
I came to the UK from Greece to do a four year undergraduate degree in electronic engineering at Essex University. This was followed by an MSc in RF (radio frequency) communications at the University of Bradford.

What qualities do you need to be a good engineer?
You should be enthusiastic and know what is going on in the industry. You must be up to date, especially the way things are at the moment with everything changing so rapidly.

What attracted you to the telecoms industry?
I wanted to go into telecommunications because I found it a really interesting field and the technology of the future.

Getting into Vodafone

Why did you choose Vodafone?
One of the main reasons was Vodafone is a big company that is really going places and offers a graduate training package. And because it is a worldwide company it offers me many opportunities to work in other countries.

How did you get on Vodafone’s graduate trainee scheme?
I applied through my careers service at university and was called for an interview during the milkround. I was then invited to come to the company’s headquarters in Newbury for a series of tests, interviews and psychometric tests over two days. We were taken round the different departments and given small presentations.

What does the graduate training scheme involve?
Graduates must complete two years of training and a further two years work experience. You’re provided with a mentor who supports you if you need anything and through whom you apply to the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

You can move around during the training. If you don’t like a placement there is the opportunity to go somewhere else. I work in radio development, which I really enjoy and would like to stay in.

The job and the company culture

What does your job involve?
My thing is BSS (Base Station Systems). I’m currently developing and implementing new features and improving functionality for our mobile customers.

How do you find the company culture?
The atmosphere is relaxed, though I would prefer the dress code to be more informal. We have to wear shirt and tie.

If you are young and have just graduated Newbury could come as a bit of a shock. Nothing much happens here. I found it really hard at first. The first three months I was here I went away to visit friends in London every weekend. I couldn’t bear to stay here. But I’ve got used to it now and don’t go away so often.

The company looks after us well. There are good stock options, good pay and 28 days holiday a year.

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