Our @csmcr alumni – Simona Alexandra, helping build software that powers the new generation of smart clothing
Simona is a Computer Science University of Manchester alumnus. She studied BSc in Software Engineering and graduated in June 2020.
Hello Simona! Can you tell us a bit about your education before university?
I finished high school in Romania, and it was focused on Maths, English, and Programming. Similar to A levels in the UK, this was my initial foundation towards becoming a software engineer.
What career has your BSc in software engineering led you to?
I am a graduate software engineer at Prevayl, a start-up company based in Manchester. My job focuses on helping build the software that powers the new generation of smart clothing. I focus on building react native features for the mobile application, as well as dealing with the infrastructure and logic behind the app.
In terms of the impact of my work, I get to be part of the team that revolutionises how people train and how their performance is dynamically analysed and used to offer powerful insights and training advice.
Did your studies in Computer Science at UoM prepare you for this career path?
My studies at UoM have played a great role in opening a new world of opportunities around me. Moreover, having studied here has given me the foundation for a great software engineering career. I got to grasp fundamental knowledge from various computer science fields which have allowed me to find my path in the industry.
Did you participate in any additional activities at UoM that may have helped you secure your job and gain more holistic life skills?
I was part of UniCS and handled social media posts for my first year of university. I was also a volunteer for the Great Uni Hack during my second year of university and I participated in a few hackathons myself over the years. Through these activities, I learned more about cooperation, communication, organisation, as well as being part of a community of students with similar interests. Whilst hard skills are important in my job, soft skills are a crucial aspect of being part of a team so participating in extracurricular activities has helped me in that regard.
How did you go about job hunting and what tips do you have for current students?
I started job hunting in my last year at UoM, around November. If you want to secure a graduate scheme, it’s important to start early so you can go through a few interviews and get familiar with the process. I usually kept track of what companies I applied for, what interviews I had lined up, and rejections/successes in an Excel sheet to avoid becoming overwhelmed. It can be nerve-wracking in the beginning, but if you have a good CV, a wish to learn, and a positive attitude then it’s much easier to find and secure a job.
How have you found working life compared to student life? How have you had to adapt?
I think every change comes with positive and negative aspects. Whilst university life gave me more flexibility in terms of my schedule, having financial stability and a more close-knit team of professionals to learn from compensates for that. After university, I had to define and adapt my priorities to accommodate a new schedule and learn budgeting skills. It’s a big transition, but I became accustomed to it after a few months. It’s exciting to start new chapters in life and I am thankful and proud of my whole journey from being an undergrad at UoM to working in the software engineering team at Prevayl.