Degree: Computer Science (with Games Technology)
University: Nottingham Trent University
I had experience of working for ARM when I came here for an Industrial Placement Year as part of my degree. Before that I hadn’t heard of ARM and what they did. Now I feel bad that many students and graduates don’t realise the kind of experience you can get working for this company and other companies like it. In the end I chose ARM because I knew I would get a huge range of experience that would set me up for anything that I wanted to do in the future. Also, there is a perfect balance at ARM of working hard while still maintaining a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
I joined ARM’s Media Processing Division (MPD) as a Graduate Engineer in September 2008. MPD’s main (but not only) focus is graphics and in the six months since starting I have worked on two projects both of which were related to ARM’s graphics products. My first project was optimising the OpenGL ES drivers for ARM Mali-55 graphics chip. This involved getting an understanding of the inner workings of the existing software, figuring out how it all fits together, where the slower parts were and then optimising them out to make everything faster. That work was released to customers in December and I am looking forward to seeing products that I know are running faster due to the work I carried out. My current project involves porting of the drivers for ARM Mali-200 graphics chip to various operating systems. This is a project with a broad scope of tasks and in the two months since I started on this team I have already learnt the ins and outs of programming device drivers for both Linux and Symbian as well as being given sole responsibility for implementing a new driver across the multiple operating systems.
ARM’s support of graduates is very good and comes to you from two main areas. There is the support you are given from the company as a whole but also the support from the members of your project team. From the company side the main perk of being a graduate is that you get six monthly pay reviews for the first two years. This means over the first two years you work at ARM you could have four pay rises and even a promotion! In addition, you also get all the benefits offered to new employees who aren’t graduates; including relocation fees, shares, free gym (at the Cambridge office) and free private health care. You will also be given a ‘buddy’, most likely outside of your working project team, who is available to talk to you about anything that isn’t related to your project. The support from your team is the one you will notice the most. The division of the company you are a part of will determine how your first 12 months as a graduate will unfold. For me, in MPD, I had the pleasure of an entire room full of very intelligent people, many of whom started at ARM as graduates themselves and were available to answer my questions whenever I had them. Other divisions have varying ways in which new graduates begin life at ARM. For example, joining the processor division puts you on a graduate rotation program whereby every three months you work in a different team on different projects to find out the area in which you are best suited.
There are weekly social activities for graduates and placement students at ARM, from a weekly trip to the pub to other activities such as bowling.