What does it do?

You'd never guess it, but QinetiQ is one of the world's leading defence technology and security companies, centred in the UK, but also with operations in the USA and Belgium. The name was dreamt up in 2001, when three quarters of what was the MOD's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) was formed into a freestanding company. The forebears of today's scientists worked on the birth of powered flight in the UK at Farnborough, the development of radar during the Second World War, and Cold War inventions such as thermal imaging, carbon fibre, and liquid crystal displays. Now, as well as developing technologies that help governments fight wars and increase security, the business tries to exploit military inventions for civil uses, the latest example being a 3D children's foot gauge, developed from a camera used to identify unexploded bombs.

Vital Statistics:

QinetiQ employs more than 11,400 staff, primarily in the UK, and last year had a turnover of over £1bn.

The office:

QinetiQ's main site is at Farnborough in Hampshire. Among the 38 other UK locations are major sites at Malvern (Worcestershire), Boscombe Down (Wiltshire), Portsdown (Hampshire) and Rosyth (Fife).

Is this you?

QinetiQ is the UK's largest employer of science and engineering graduates, taking well over 200 a year, along with a smaller number of lawyers, accountants, marketers, designers and business graduates. Most have a 2.1 or better.

The recruitment process:

Online applications, at www.QinetiQ.com, are studied by managers, and individuals selected for interview, or assessment centre, the method being used more frequently these days. These usually cover aptitude and attitude in the morning, and technical areas in the afternoon. All new graduate entrants go directly into real project roles and are encouraged to take the two-year Core Graduate Development Programme, run by the University of Bath and leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in management. Most also work towards chartered status in their field. In the background, too, is an internal network of recent graduate recruits, providing work-related and social support in what can be a bewilderingly large company.

Top Dollar?

A typical graduate entrant will start on £22K, corresponding to level three on QinetiQ's nine-stage career structure. PhDs start on level four.

Beam me up Scotty?

Your speed of progression will largely be up to you, although there's a fast track scheme in development, and opportunities for technical staff to move into more customer-facing commercial roles.

Who's the boss?

Cambridge graduate Graham Love has been CEO since last year, having joined DERA in 1992.

Little known fact:

Try playing the voice on the company video on QinetiQ's website to your parents' generation. They'll recognise it as belonging to the ex-Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton, who used to make spaceships out of egg boxes and milk bottle tops. Now she sells real fighter planes and missiles.