October 28, 2019, by Jackie Thompson
Connecting With Employers Paid Off For Me
By Louise Wheeler, MEng Mechanical Engineering with an Industrial Year
I entered my first year of university much like everyone else, having no idea what I wanted to do when I eventually graduated. And so, when I heard about the careers fairs, I thought it would be a great idea to attend.
Over the course of the next two years, I attended many of the University’s careers events, such as the Engineering Internships Fair, lunchtime talks and Spotlight On events. From these events, I started to gain an understanding of what opportunities there were for my degree and could start to narrow down the industries I may be interested in, as well as gaining knowledge on what companies were out there.
In my second year
In my second year, I had signed up for my department’s Year in Industry team’s email list, which sent out numerous opportunities throughout the year for jobs and even advertised companies specifically looking for Nottingham students. An advertisement came through for a year-long internship at a company called Abaco Systems, a defence and aerospace company, which was one of the industries I had previously identified as an area of interest for me. After a phone interview and an assessment centre, I was lucky enough to be offered the job.
During my time at Abaco, I improved and expanded on all the skills and knowledge I’d gained during my course so far, but l also gained and developed a lot of soft skills such as working in a team, problem–solving and presenting myself professionally. But most importantly I gained an understanding of what I did and didn’t like. After a couple of months, I realised that I enjoyed my work, but it was not necessarily what I wanted to do after university, and so I started to look around at the rest of the company. After talking to managers in different departments, sitting in on meetings and even doing some work for them I discovered a new area of the business I hadn’t heard of before that I loved.
In my third year
When I returned for my third year I used that knowledge to find and apply for more specific job roles and secure a summer placement. I attended more careers fairs and Spotlight On events, using the soft skills I gained at Abaco to get the most out of talking to company representatives, gaining insight and advice from professionals. These skills continued to be invaluable throughout application processes and I secured a summer placement with Thales. I spent a total of 12 weeks with them, learning even more about this industry and discovered an environment and role which suited me perfectly.
In my final year
I returned to university for my final year knowing I would like to return to Thales. I kept in contact with several colleagues and continued to ask them for advice and discuss my future. This led to me being offered a direct entrant role with Thales, in the department and location I loved. I’ve now finished my degree knowing that all the hard work I’ve put in, and the effort put into networking has paid off to get the job I wanted.
Whatever your subject, if you want to connect with employers, check out our events programme: over 300 companies come onto campus every year. Looking for work experience? We’ve got all the options covered on our website from part-time jobs and internships to projects and year-long placements.