Shaping the first year experience: Making inclusion a priority
BAE Systems’ Year One program is a common first-year curriculum that assimilates early career Engineering employees to the company. It focuses on the development and retention of such employees, providing an unmatched onboarding experience.
It’s your first day at BAE Systems. You’re fresh out of college and ready to dive in. After years of studying, you’re officially an engineer. Saying it aloud brings a little more pressure, but there’s no turning back now.
You walk into orientation ready to make a good impression, but you can’t help feeling awkward. Who do you talk to? Who do you not talk to? It’s all so overwhelming. They didn’t teach you this part in school, and BAE Systems is a big company. You have more questions than answers. How do I find my way? What’s the plan for tomorrow? Who is going to help me?
It was this exact feeling that a group of BAE Systems Engineering managers observed over and over. They knew it was time for a change. As the team looked to onboard thousands of new employees, they couldn’t help but think – what if there was a way for us to make being new to the company a little bit easier, and a lot more fun?
“To some of our newer managers, it was obvious that our onboarding left a lot to be desired. This next generation of engineers is different, and we should be onboarding them differently,” said Stephanie Livsey, Engineering Development manager and one of Year One’s founders. “We thought it would be a good idea to work together to ensure that all of our new engineers receive the same, consistent framework as they start at the company.”
The program, now in its third year, has done just that. Designed to help early career Engineering employees navigate the company, Year One provides regular opportunities to network and collaborate with peers and leaders, and access to professional development courses, career planning, and mentorship. In addition, participants report to discipline- and site-specific managers, so they can easily interface with employees from across the business, leading to a more inclusive environment with higher morale and productivity.
Initially a grassroots effort, Year One was quickly embraced by leadership and participants, and adopted as a best practice.
"The program was a great bridge from college to joining the workforce. It introduced me to the company and helped set the foundation for the rest of my career,” said Mike Radford, a software engineer and former participant. “On one hand, I got to make connections with other recent college grads who were in the same boat as me. At the same time, I was a full-fledged BAE Systems employee working on real engineering projects, so it never felt like the Year One program was holding my hand.”
Explore opportunities to join our growing team at jobs.baesystems.com.
Ali Flewelling, Communications, Hudson, NH