Gaining graduate employment: My experience

As with many students, I reached the point, half way through the final year of my studies, where deciding what to do with my life after university became a serious concern. I knew I wanted to stay local, having become very attached to Norwich and life in this city.

My undergraduate course was in the School of Computing Sciences at UEA. Having had 4 years at university, I knew that I was coming to the end of my academic interests and had little desire to pursue any further studies, but was keen find local companies that were technology and computing orientated. I have had several part time jobs already by this point; I worked in a newsagents whilst at school and behind the bar in a live music venue during my time at UEA. I have also worked in larger companies; but found jobs in small businesses and organisations to be significantly more rewarding.

UEA had rapidly expanded the resources and opportunities available to students to guide them into careers. I had already attended plenty of careers events, but up until then this was more out of curiosity then through immediate necessity. Careers fairs seemed dominated by massive shiny London based businesses, handing out goody bags in front of large displays of glass tower blocks and company cars. The prospect of applying alongside hundreds of others for one of these jobs really didn’t appeal to me, so I focused my time on smaller events attended by local businesses relevant to my field of study, as well as writing to companies that particularly enthused me.

I also decided to post my CV online on several job websites, and spend some time polishing my LinkedIn profile and other professional online presences. This turned out to be my most fruitful job hunt decision, as I was soon receiving regular calls and emails from recruiters and businesses looking to employ me. A lot of the jobs were of little interest, others, blatant scams, but they were usually relevant to my degree, and being approached personally by a company for a potential job that you may have otherwise dismissed due to not feeling skilled in the right areas certainly broadens the opportunities available. It was through my own online presence that I was offered some work experience in web development, and I spent 2 days a week during my final semester doing this. Due to timetabling issues, I had completed most of my modules in my first semester, so this was a fantastic use of my time that allowed my to develop industry skills alongside finishing my degree. Doing development for real life projects for real life clients was fascinating. For the first time, life after university was not terrifying, but an exciting prospect.

The UEA graduate internship program facilitated an opportunity to continue working in web development, now with MADE Agency. I was therefore lucky enough to be working full time the week after I finished my final exam. I had to use my allocated holiday for my graduation ceremony and to move out of my student house; the whole process has been incredibly fast paced and it’s slightly overwhelming to think that 6 months previously I had no career plan whatsoever. During my internship I could focus all my attention on the various projects that I was getting deeply involved with, and apply the skills and techniques learnt during my time at UEA.

Towards the end of my internship, I accepted an offer to continuing to work with the team at MADE with a full time job as a developer. Being able to directly apply my degree to graduate work is incredibly satisfying, and working in a small company where my ideas and suggestions really do have an impact on projects is not only empowering, but leads me to take great pride in the projects I contribute to. Thinking outside the box and trying new things are what I feel the key processes were to the entrance into my career with MADE, and are incidentally two of the principles which make the projects that we work on to be so rewarding to us, as well as our clients.​