Tag Archives: graduate

From placement student at Nestlé to graduate at Capgemini

Sandy Nijjar graduated from Aston in 2015 with a BSc Computing for Business degree. She completed her placement year at Nestlé and now works as a Business Transformation Consultant at Capgemini.

What were your key highlights/projects/achievements on placement?

My key achievement was being given the sole responsibility to manage the field sales solution for six months and supporting over 700 field sales users and the field sales capture tool Visicom. I had worked closely with the market contact within Germany, Nestlé retail operations team and other international support teams.

How did you go about finding your placement?

I used Aston Futures and looked on company websites for placement roles.

How has Aston University helped you prepare for graduate employment?

The Careers+Placements team at Aston University held a number of sessions with companies that equipped me with skills that I could use for my graduate employment.

How did you secure your graduate role?

I applied to a number of different graduate schemes earlier in my final year and juggled my coursework deadlines and exam prep.

My best careers advice to another student would be…

Make the most of all the opportunities available at Aston University. Attend career sessions and network with employers during these events. I would also recommend to apply to graduate roles early in your final year.

We’re here to help you navigate your next adventure – for up to three years after you graduate! Visit us in the Careers+Placements Centre today to discover how we can support your career search.

My career journey so far…

Maya Modi graduated from Aston University in 2016 with a degree in BSc English Language. She is now working as a Consultant at Capgemini. Here she tells us about her career journey so far. 

Where did you undertake your placement?

I split my placement year up into three parts: a semester studying abroad, a semester working in the UK and a summer studying abroad. The studying elements were obtained via Aston and I located the working placement myself.

For the first semester of my placement year, I was an ERASMUS student at Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain. I then came home and spent the second semester picking up my former role within my local Accident & Emergency department. Finally, I spent the summer studying Chinese Sociopolitics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

What were your key highlights/projects/achievements on placement?

Given the placements I was doing, it was difficult to be involved in high profile projects as such, but that didn’t stop me from getting involved with high profile individuals. The lecturers I worked with hailed from renowned universities such as Yale, Harvard and Princeton, so the pressure was on to impress them! My lecturers praised my work, which was a great feeling considering the subjects I was studying were alien to me. I’m also not fluent in Spanish or Cantonese, so adjusting to lecture content was difficult, but I got through it.

How did you go about finding your placement?

I checked Aston Futures religiously for the opening of study abroad applications, as I knew that was what I wanted to do. I mostly liaised with the Careers+Placements team as my main source of finding and securing placements.

How has Aston University helped you prepare for graduate employment?

I think the amount of careers fairs that are open to us are fantastic. I attended most of them, even the ones irrelevant to me. You can practise how to approach recruiters and learn to ask the right questions. I also really liked that Careers+Placements can arrange mock interviews for you and do CV checks.

How did you secure your graduate role?

I attended careers fairs out of my comfort zone to expand the industries I could fit into post-graduation. ‘High Tea Meets IT’ was a careers fair targeted at females wanting to go into the technology industry and we all had high tea together. This was where I met my current employer and from then on, I applied to their graduate scheme via their website.

My best careers advice to another student would be…

I started my LinkedIn page before university. The earlier you start it, the sooner you’ll learn to use it properly. I’d already made a fair few contacts, including graduate recruiters, but as soon as I’d updated my profile to show a placement year my connection requests went crazy!

Your placement year is the thing that’ll differentiate you from the next candidate. Don’t be afraid to mention that you embarked on a placement year!

Keep all of the applications you got rejected from and the CV/cover letters you used when applying to placement positions. Compare it your CV post-placement and do two things:
1) Identify how you could improve your rejected applications – it’s useful for self-learning and creating a stronger personal profile for yourself.
2) Give yourself a pat on the back for how far you’ve come!

Don’t be afraid to approach people in senior positions. It’s a competitive world and if you eliminate the ‘scary’ aspect of liaising with people senior than you, you’ll find yourself mature in the workplace.

Ask for feedback. If you’ve done work for someone, no matter how big or small, request feedback. Build a portfolio of all the feedback you receive and use it to find trends of what you perform well in and where you could improve. In the graduate working world, feedback helps you build a case to put forward for promotion.

We’re here to help you navigate your next adventure – for up to three years after you graduate! Visit us in the Careers+Placements Centre today to discover how we can support your career search.

I’ve got a job! The learning process of going from student to employee

In the next few months, many university students will be making that important move to the workplace. It can be a daunting first step to take…even for students who may have been working during their time in education, or who may have completed a placement as part of their course. As a student, it can be comforting to know that once the university vacation or placement year has ended, it is possible to leave that temporary job, internship or work placement and head back to the “safety” of a familiar campus environment. For many students however, the upcoming end of university means stepping out of a recognisable environment they have grown accustomed to over a number of years….and with no university to go back to in a few weeks’ time.

Many students have already gone through the lengthy and time consuming steps involved in writing applications and working through challenging recruitment selection processes to secure that first job. It would be easy to think that all the hard work is done, mission accomplished…course completed and job offer in the bag. However making that move from education into the workplace on a full-time basis involves significant change, and can mean much upheaval. The end of university marks the start of a new chapter of learning about how to move from student status to that of an employee/worker/member of staff.

Whether you are going to start on a graduate scheme, an entry level job, or even if you will be working in a role that is not your intended career path and/or still pondering what your next career step will be, you may find the following insights helpful to keep in mind as you move into the world of work:

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1. The learning process starts all over again

You’ve spent 3-4 years at university to get your degree, which marks that valuable first step in your career journey. Your learning won’t end at your graduation ceremony. Now comes the time to really start applying what you’ve learnt to the world of work, whether directly from your degree subject itself, or the wide range of skills that studying a degree has enabled you to build; independence, critical thinking, communication and teamwork, to name a few. This is why employers want graduates to recognise and actively develop themselves whilst at university. You can then start transferring your skills into your daily work when you start a job.

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2. Your mind set in the workplace is important

Whether you find yourself on a graduate scheme that you’ve always wanted, or working in a role as a stepping stone whilst you discover more about what you would like in your career, acting in positive ways and carrying yourself professionally in the workplace is important. Keep in mind that your outlook will be on show, from the way you talk to your colleagues through to your quality of work, and how you tackle even the most simple of tasks. Respecting colleagues, working with enthusiasm, and having a general positive attitude can really make a difference to your experiences and opportunities in the workplace. 

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3. Don’t expect all the exciting work/projects to come to you straight away

This one is very much linked to no. 2 in the list. With any job there is a period of adjustment, settling in and getting to grips with the basics. You may have achieved high academic grades at university, however when you start in any job, you need to prove yourself. Being able to integrate and work with others, carry out tasks to a high quality, and deliver work on time is vital, before progressing onto new and more complex and challenging work. Even if you find yourself working in a job that doesn’t align to your future career desires, still put in the work and effort, you never know how/when this could open up new opportunities or career routes within the organisation, and which you didn’t even know existed.

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4. Employers won’t really “spoon feed” their employees

Sure there is usually a period of training and an induction when you start a new job. Typically there are support mechanisms in place to help you as you navigate your way through your job tasks and duties. Do keep in mind that much of what you learn is done so “on-the-job.” You will learn a lot by trial and error, through trying, reflecting, asking questions, and adapting to improve for next time.

The same can be said for your professional development. You may start on a structured grad scheme but not all training and development opportunities may be handed to you on a plate.  As you find out more about your strengths and interests, learn to reflect and consider the areas where you could, and want to gain more experience, and further develop your skills. Speak with your management about this, it shows initiative, a commitment to your own development, and can only add to your future value in the workplace. Even if you find yourself working in a role that isn’t your ideal graduate career, consider if there are any internal training opportunities that you could take advantage of. This could really add value to your CV, and equip you with new skills for a future workplace.

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5. Work hard but don’t peak too soon

As a new graduate you should be working hard. There may be the temptation to throw yourself into a job so much that you say “yes” to everything that comes your way, but remember that “slow and steady wins the race.” Get to know the organisation you are working for, how it is structured, and speak to and get to know your work colleagues too. Embed and immerse yourself and learn the basics of your job and get that right before raising your hand to take on more complex projects. 

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6. The world of work is massively different to being a student

This may seem like a no-brainer and pretty obvious, but moving from the lifestyle of a student to that of a worker can still be a bit of a culture shock. It took me a good year to get my head round! Where late nights, late starts and missing the odd few lectures may be the norm at university, you will likely find that you have to adjust your daily body clock to accommodate structured working hours, for which you can’t just skip one day, and turn up the next. The culture of the workplace is different to university. From how you are expected to dress, through to telephone and email etiquette. Watch and learn, and give yourself a bit of time to adapt.

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7. There are learning opportunities by working in any type of job

More than ever, due to the changing nature of the workplace, it is highly unlikely that your first job after university will be your last. 

So whatever your first career step after university, even if you are working in a job and you have no idea of where your future lies, know that you are growing, maturing and acquiring valuable abilities, strengths and personal qualities that you will no doubt use at some point as you navigate your way along your career path.

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Aston student to HR Graduate at Wesleyan Assurance Society

Jess Lambie graduated from Aston University in 2016 with a BSc Psychology (Hons) degree. She is now working as an HR Graduate at Wesleyan Assurance Society. We caught up with her to find out more about her life after Aston.

How did you secure your graduate scheme?

I love to learn new things, to analyse patterns and to create – and I am very much a people person. That’s what led me to study Psychology, and then on to a career in Human Resources.

When I saw this graduate scheme advertised at Wesleyan, offering rotation around the various disciplines within HR as well as the chance to complete my CIPD qualification, I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity! Following a video interview and a full day’s assessment centre, here I am – and I love it!

What does your typical day look like? 

I would say that I’m very lucky in the sense that I don’t really have a typical day! Currently I’m sat within recruitment, so my day can involve advertising jobs, organising interviews and assessment centres, CV sifting and video interviewing. But I also get the opportunity to work on projects that utilise my analysis and creativity skills.

I get exposure to all areas and levels of the business, through Employee Relations cases, interviews, Employee Networks and Reverse Mentoring.

What skills have you developed through the role? 

The amount of project work has been a huge help in pushing and developing my organisation skills and independence. Self-motivation and communication are key to my role, and I’m slowly working on my ability to challenge processes – but I know I have all the support I need to work on my development areas.

What would you say to final year students or other recent graduates considering a graduate scheme?

Graduate schemes are ideal. It’s continuous learning, in all forms; you are supported through a professional qualification that will enhance your knowledge and skill set, but you also get hands-on experience in the role, and exposure to experts in your field.

How has this scheme shaped your future plans? 

I had never been completely sure where I wanted my career to progress. I came into HR by accident, but I soon decided that was the path for me. This graduate scheme has not only confirmed that I made the right decision, but it has also shown me the potential I have to develop in this field. HR is a rapidly developing area, which makes it an exciting and ever-changing role. Thanks to this scheme, I now feel that I have the tools, the support, and the opportunity to gain the necessary experience to progress my career to the HR Business Partner level. There are so many challenges, and I look forward to the next one!

This could be you! If you’re currently searching for your dream graduate role, why not head to Aston Futures to explore the wide range of graduate opportunities advertised there? Don’t forget, you can also come and chat to us in the Careers+Placements Centre if you need some support with your career journey. 

 

My graduate role at JD Sports Fashion plc.

Manreet Atwal graduated from Aston University in 2017 with a BSc Psychology and Business degree. She is now on a Multi-channel Graduate Programme at JD Sports Fashion plc. Here she tells us more about her role and how it’s helping to shape her career journey. 

How did you secure your role?

I used LinkedIn often in my search for graduate roles. I had a rough idea of companies I would like to work for because of my placement search. I followed JD Sports Fashion plc on LinkedIn to see their updates and spot any career opportunities.

I saw an advertisement for their Multi-Channel Graduate Scheme and applied. The application involved uploading a CV and two-minute video describing yourself as creatively as possible. After this, there was an assessment centre. The final stage involved a presentation to the Director of Multi-Channel and a face-to-face interview.

What does your typical day look like?

Over the course of two years, I will move across multiple departments within Multi-Channel. The departments include; Content, Merchandising, CRM, PPC, SEO, Social Media & Marketplaces.

During my placement in each department, my role is to understand the functionality of each team and learn the programmes and processes they use to complete tasks. No day is the same because we have to constantly react to the fast-paced market.

What have you learnt so far?

I’m gaining a really great overview of how an entire department functions. JD Sports is one of the UK’s biggest retailers so the insight I’m gaining is invaluable. I’m learning how teams work within themselves and as part of a wider team, and I am able to provide feedback at the end of each placement of what works and where there may be opportunities.

What advice would you offer to final year students or other recent graduates?

Don’t take the first job you’re offered just because it’s there. Take time to decide; look into the company, look into the role and decide how much experience you want to gain.

It’s okay to have a job before you hand in your dissertation, and it’s okay to be searching for months after you’ve graduated – just find the right match for you. You didn’t study at Aston University for four years to take a job you don’t love!

How has your current role shaped your career plans?

This Graduate Scheme is great because I graduated with the certainty that I wanted a career in Marketing, but I didn’t really know what that meant. This scheme allows me to get stuck into multiple departments and learn my own strengths and weakness. I also get to work in departments I hadn’t considered before such as SEO and various other means of Traffic. JD Sports has also offered me lots of training opportunities, which have helped me grow more confident in my career plans of becoming a high-level manager. 

Looking for your own dream graduate role? Why not head to Aston Futures today to explore the wide range of graduate opportunities advertised there? Don’t forget, you can also come and chat to us in the Careers+Placements Centre if you need some support with your
career journey. 

My graduate job in Careers+Placements

Hi all!

“Guess who’s back, back again,

Ali’s back, tell a friend,

Guess who’s back,

Guess who’s back,

Guess who’s back”…..

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For all those who don’t know me, my name is Ali! I’ve written blogs previously in the past for the Careers+Placements team as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist during my placement year. Now fast-tracking myself a few years later…and zap! I’ve landed myself a graduate job in the C+P team working as an Assistant Placement Coordinator!

So how did I get here? It’s a good question to ask, and if I’m entirely honest… I’m not sure myself either! During my time at Aston University, I always kept a go-getter mentality when presented with opportunities. Whether this was volunteer work in and around university or part-time casual, I always strived to get involved to do my part and make that difference! At the time whilst participating in all these opportunities, I had only assessed the benefits that I would’ve gained over the short term:

  • Successfully identifying and applying my strengths
  • Stimulating and promoting positive self-development
  • Developing a stronger insight into services provided by Aston University
  • Networking with academics and professionals alike.

However, through constant volunteering opportunities, I had the chance to further develop my networks and meet some really interesting people. As of such, my passion soon developed into a commitment and I found myself becoming a student ambassador for Aston University. It was through my perseverance, commitment and a helpful recommendation from the Learning Enhancement team that I was able to secure a temporary contract shortly after graduating. It was then, through continuous work during my role as a Student Support Assistant, was I able to progress into a Placement Coordinator role. Not only did this allow me to play on my key strengths but also gave me the opportunity to better prepare students for their upcoming placement year.

It soon dawned upon me that this role was starting to provide me insight into the careers and education sector. I was starting to draw the dots together between the services we provided to our students and the high level of graduate employability. Upon working as a Placement Coordinator, I had only realised how beneficial the Careers+Placements team were in developing and nurturing Aston University’s students in preparation for the working world!

Currently working full-time, I’m always finding ways to improve upon student engagement and delivering the best support service possible! I like to believe that when an opportunity presents itself, seize it at once. The experiences we gain now as graduates will only benefit us further and become critical in future decision-making and employability.

Whatever you do, just remember in life that there is no elevator to success; you have to take the stairs!