At Leidos, we understand that maintaining a diverse, inclusive environment is an ongoing pursuit. It requires resources and relationship building outside our organization to both cultivate Leidos’ reputation as a company who thrives on many perspectives and to attract a steady stream of talent to further diversify our team. Which is why one of the four pillars of the Leidos Diversity & Inclusion program focuses on talent acquisition and external partnerships. Without the help of these established entities within various ethnic and academic communities, the challenge of consistently recruiting and retaining quality candidates would be far greater.
Two of our flagship external partnerships are with the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference, of which Leidos was a Diamond level sponsor in 2017, and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), of which Leidos is an Affiliate Partner. With support from our African American Leidos Network Employee Resource Group, these two events alone, held in February and March/April 2017 respectively, yielded a total of 13 collegiate hires—11 intern positions and two full-time entry level positions. We sat down with a few of the hires to learn what about Leidos made it a right fit for them.
Clockwise from top left: Arshakia Brown, Software Test Intern (BEYA hire, University of Maryland, Baltimore County); Rashid Whitfield – College Student Tech (BEYA hire, University of North Carolina); Bryce Hammond – Software Engineer Intern (NSBE hire, University of Maryland, College Park); Emma Price – Software Engineer Intern (BEYA hire, University of Virginia); Sydney Parker – Systems Administrator Associate (BEYA hire, Hampton University); Mario Borroto – Software Engineer Intern (BEYA hire, Florida International University); Bahkari Bridgewater – Software Engineer Intern (NSBE hire, Lawrence Technological University)
What about Leidos interested you initially (customer mission, Leidos brand, diversity organization participation, etc.)?
“Initially, the main factor that fostered my interest in Leidos was the company’s mission statement. Growing up, I was passionate about computer science as well as helping people and serving the community. Leidos allows me to seamlessly integrate both of these passions into the work I do here.” – Bryce Hammond (NSBE)
“Diversity of the company interested me after researching what makes up Leidos. Diversity of people, products, services offered by Leidos allows individual growth. The vision of Leidos extends my reach for personal goals in learning new prospective of my craft.” – Sydney Parker (BEYA)
“I became interested in Leidos initially because of their brand. I knew that Leidos was a top technical company in the Washington, D.C. metro area and took part in developing a variety of solutions in different fields.” – Emma Price (BEYA)
What do you like best about working at Leidos? (People, opportunities, culture, etc.)
“I like the opportunities and the culture of the company. The business is heading towards growth, providing many opportunities to meet the needs of its employees to reach their goals. I feel positioned to take on challenges to adapt to the ever-changing field of IT.” – Sydney Parker (BEYA)
“I really like the people here. They are all very bright and think about approaching solutions in ways I would have never seen. I also really like that I can choose my path at Leidos. I have been given vast amounts of opportunities to expand my knowledge base and try things even with minimal experience.” – Emma Price (BEYA)
“What I like best about working at Leidos is knowing all of my hard work is going towards a great cause! It touches my heart knowing the work accomplished here saves lives on a daily basis.” – Rashid Whitfield (BEYA)
What kind of work are you doing, and what value do you feel you are providing to the organization and to the customer?
“In the Advanced Solutions Group, each and every person is working on something interesting and cool. I was tasked with automated 3D modeling and integration of AI systems into real-world environments, which happens to be the foundation of most of the project I was assigned to. So even as interns, we are working on integral parts of the project!” – Bahkari Bridgewater (NSBE)
“I am a software testing intern. The work I do is a vital endpoint for the organization and the customer. After a bunch of changes, adaptations and new things added, testing ensures that we are doing the work we've been asked and supplying the customer with a working end-product.” – Arshakia Brown (BEYA)
“I am a software engineering intern and I have done things from setting up a database to writing code. One of my projects deals with bitcoin, and I had an interest even before the tasks were assigned to me. Having such an interest has helped me find solutions faster.” – Mario Borroto (BEYA)
How well do you feel your collegiate studies prepared you for your internship?
“I feel my collegiate studies prepared me well. I took many advanced courses where problem solving was needed, which helped me think outside the box. Of course there were some things that were new to me, but that is an element of a great intern experience.” – Rashid Whitfield (BEYA)
“My collegiate studies allowed me to learn the basics of programming; it is important to understand the basics because you’ll need a solid foundation of programming concepts before you can truly understand how to make a program or how to solve problems or errors that may occur.” – Bryce Hammond (NSBE)
“There is nothing like real-world experience. In the real world, where there are actual goals and deliverables, you have no choice but to learn.” – Mario Borroto (BEYA)
What advice would you give to students considering Leidos for employment?
“Do whatever you can to get this experience. It really has been an unforgettable few months!” – Bahkari Bridgewater (NSBE)
“Be ambitious. There is no better way to solidify what you learned in school than to test it out with real world examples/projects.” – Emma Price (BEYA)
“My advice would be to do your research on the company, and not only make sure that it is a perfect fit for you but also that you will add to the company success and culture.” – Arshakia Brown (BEYA)
“Keep an open mind.” – Sydney Parker (BEYA)
“Have a good GPA, be ready for challenges and be yourself!” – Rashid Whitfield (BEYA)
Emily is a Senior Internal Communications Specialist at Leidos. Regardless of the topic, she seeks to inform her audience—be they colleagues or customers—through storytelling vs. status updates. Though she hails from Ohio, she’s lived in the D.C. area long enough to call herself a local and enjoys availing herself of all that the nation’s capital has to offer.More Content by Emily Howard