Arina Dobryden

14 February 2024

Meet Arina, a Software Engineering graduate apprentice in her second year at our Edinburgh site.

What is your current role at Leonardo?

I am a second year Software Engineering Apprentice, working in Leonardo’s Component Architecture team. This is my second placement in my apprenticeship, which allows me to work on a wide variety of tasks, all requiring varying levels of knowledge and experience. As the tasks that I work on are all implemented and used within the team’s architecture, I am able to gain the broadest work experience possible – which is highly useful for all aspects of Software Engineering.

What did you study at school? 

I studied five Highers – Maths, English, Human Biology, Computer Science and Business Management. I proceeded to take Biology, Business and Computer Science to Advanced Higher.

Why did you decide to join Leonardo?

Leonardo specialises in aerospace, defence and security – all industries that require technological solutions, which I wanted to be a part of. The apprenticeship scheme had incredible development opportunities for early careers, which stood out from the crowd; it enticed me to work for a company that would support both my studies and my practical experience. Leonardo offered me the prospect of being able to study for a degree that I am passionate about, whilst also working in a company that challenges my knowledge and allows me to apply my studies directly to my work. This opportunity has also allowed me to gain invaluable insight into the workplace and learn about the standard my work is expected to come to. Alongside this, Leonardo offers spectacular extracurricular activities, such as STEM involvement, connections to IMechE, and conferences suitable for apprentices to expand our skills and networking opportunities. All of these played into the decision that Leonardo was the correct route for me.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

After finishing school, I knew I wanted to go straight into work to gain experience and practical knowledge, but I also wanted to go to university to gain a degree and deeper understanding of software. After learning about the opportunities that Leonardo offered, I knew that there was no other option for me other than a Graduate Apprenticeship. Being an apprentice offers the best of both worlds, which is why I would 100% recommend others to try it and take the alternative route into work!

Tell us what you do in a typical day.

Typically, whilst university is in term, I’m in the office three days a week. When working, my tasks will vary depending on my placement, as well as the current needs of my team. Currently, in the Component Architecture team, I’ve been working on a range of projects, which I have full developmental control over if I am the main developer, as well as occasionally aiding the other members of my team with reviews of their work, support, and peer programming. Through this, I am able to build up a varied skillset that is not only transferable to other teams but also extremely useful to the degree aspect I am doing, as our courses provide opportunity to reflect and display the work we complete in the office. Normally, our team has at least one meeting a day to help each other with any issues we may encounter, or to discuss where we currently stand with our work. This is incredibly useful to gain insight from your team, as well as to keep yourself accountable to not fall behind schedule. We will also have meetings with other teams working on the same product, to demonstrate our work and to ensure we are all on the same timescale – which is a vital aspect of the methodology that our project and team works on.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the practical application of my learning into my work. Being able to see the work that I am learning at university be put into action in the workplace isn’t only rewarding, but incredibly satisfying. In addition, I enjoy talking to more experienced Software Engineers and finding out about their experiences in work and listening to the different projects they have worked on. This inspires me to become better at my job and teaches me to deal with whatever I might face in the future. Not only this, but I enjoy the accomplishment of contributing to real company projects and having an impact on the business and their customers at such a young age.

What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?

I’m incredibly proud of how quickly I’ve been able to integrate into both of the teams I worked in and picked up loose ends with tasks that I’m working on – as I’m now working with different programming languages that I am used to. This allowed me to work on projects which I had full control over and could really hone into my creativity within programming. I have also already been involved with several Leonardo STEM outreach events, which allow me to present both software and engineering activities to students in school, which help raise awareness of the apprenticeship schemes at Leonardo. I was a member of a team taking part in the IMechE Automation Challenge last year, where we are created an Automated 3D Filament Recycler. I am also currently involved with the GCAP Software Young Enterprise project, where I am developing a platform that generates documentation and code that matches company standards, to help facilitate the work done by our developers at Leonardo. 

I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I was offered, which allowed me to display my skills – and I am proud of myself for achieving the Leonardo Apprentice of the Year award in my first year of working here, as a result of the effort I had put into my work and studies during my time here. I am proud of the connections I have created through networking, not only with my fellow apprentices, but also with various people from different departments.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to continue to impress within my department and excel within the company by both broadening my understanding and theoretical knowledge (which I am building through my Software Development for Business degree), and my practical experiences within my day-to-day work. I aspire to move through the job framework from Engineer to Senior Engineer, ultimately ending up as Chief Software Engineer at Leonardo.