Student story: I’ve sorted my summer

SharikaHi, I’m Sharika and I am a second-year English student. Alongside my studies, I work as a Student Ambassador for the Widening Participation team at Queen Mary. The aim of Widening Participation is to encourage students from disadvantaged social backgrounds to consider pursing higher education. Not only is this an incredibly rewarding job which gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the local community, but being a Widening Participation Ambassador has also allowed me to gain a plethora of transferable skills through working in a diverse range of environments.

This summer, for instance, I am involved with a number of exciting projects. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I worked at the Experience University Week: Creating a Language. In this summer school, a group of Year 10 students learned all about linguistics, and then they constructed their own languages. Through this event, I gained experience working with young people, and at the same time, I was able to learn about linguistics myself! Next week I will be giving a speech to 60 Year 7-9 students at a celebration event (every one of the students has read more than 25 books in the past eight months!). I will be talking to them about reading, English degrees, and about my university experience. Later this month, another Student Ambassador and myself will be delivering a joint-lecture to Sixth Form students. Both of these opportunities will hone my public speaking skills. Moreover, I am currently in the middle of preparing for both of these events and already it has taught me a great deal about how to adapt my communication style to effectively interact with people from different age groups. Furthermore, in July, at the Verbatim Summer School, I will be working with young care experienced students thinking about coming to university.

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Student blog: My experience working for a start-up

kamrulKamrul Alom is a 2nd year Politics student, who shares his experience working for both a corporate and start-up below. Kamrul also featured in March’s Student Stories Week.

Most students specifically apply for internships at big names. We tend to apply for the likes of JP Morgan, P&G, Google and others. However, it is easy to forget or neglect the world of start-ups: a very different world to the big corporate employers that many of us will one day join. It is a very different but great alternative.

I currently work for a start-up called Plum Fintech, as an Operations and User Happiness Intern, which marks a great difference to my previous internship at Morgan Stanley. I have also gained work experience in several different organisations, both in the charity sector and private sector, developing vital experience and skills.

plumPlum is a personal savings butlers, and it all happens whilst speaking to Plum on Facebook Messenger. My role involves supporting and ensuring that new users are correctly set up onto Plum, and if not, I am tasked to solve and diagnose the error – i.e taking it up with stakeholders or messaging users. I also make sure that the company links correctly to users’ bank accounts (securely and safely of course) to analyse potential savings, using a very smart algorithm. It automatically makes these savings for you. The application allows you to get on with your life, as Plum makes very intelligent savings for you.

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Student story: The benefits of volunteering

Thinking about getting some work experience this summer? QProjects Summer has 12 positions in charities open for application now.

jessJess Weeks got involved with QProjects earlier this year, as a Collections Project Leader at the Royal Academy of Arts. Jess wanted to gain some experience in the heritage sector and loved the idea of working for an independent charity – so applied for QProjects. Now that she’s finished her placement, we caught up with her to see how she got on…

What did you enjoy about your placement?

“The Royal Academy was a great place to be in general. One of my favourite tasks, however, was working on the opening of the Anthony Green exhibition. I had to transcribe one of his pieces of work and it was so nice knowing that my opinion was valued. On opening night I met the artist himself! The team were so lovely and really made me feel welcome; I was sad to leave, but I felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to do such a wonderful placement.”

Do you think that doing a QProject has helped your employability?

Benefits-of-volunteering1_(002)“Having the QProject on my CV is really going to help me with further applications. I have learned many transferable skills, had to deal with and overcome certain challenges within the role, and have also gained valuable experience within the sector. In interviews I will draw on my experiences at the RA to provide support for statements of character and experience. I have also made valuable connections within the sector. Networking is crucial and QProjects provides a great platform to start this process.”

What would you say to a student who was considering doing a QProject?

“I would wholly recommend it! It’s a fantastic way to meet people and make connections, as well as allowing you to learn crucial skills within a sector. Although it is unpaid, I feel that this looks better on your CV as it shows how dedicated you are and good at time-management! Do it sooner rather than later – don’t (like I did) wait until your third year to start looking for experience. These projects are a great way to start gaining experience and learn what you like and don’t like, so for me this project has allowed me to understand that I might be best suited in a more educational role rather than curatorial.”

If you fancy doing something similar, further details on how to apply for QProjects summer can be found here. The programme is open to all students and the deadline is 1st June.

Graduate story: Sam, boohooMAN

sambMy name is Sam Babatunde and I’m the Senior Content Marketing Executive for online menswear brand boohooMAN. I graduated from QMUL in 2007 with a Business Management degree. Ever since the first lesson of my marketing module gripped me in a way none of the other modules did, I knew that marketing was what I wanted to do.

How I got into content marketing:

Marketing is a wide field, so when I graduated I was unsure exactly what marketing discipline I wanted to follow. My current field of Content Marketing/SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) was a new digital focused industry that had only been around a few years really, so I had no idea it even existed.

After a friend roped me into helping her market her website to bring in traffic, I started learning more and more about SEO and fell deeper into the rabbit hole until I decided I liked it so much that I should probably start making a career out of it! I applied for an internship at an accommodation website and the rest is history.

What a typical day looks like:

Well it’s a well-worn cliché of the industry that there’s no ‘typical working day’ but some of the roles I’m responsible for are:

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My QMentoring Success Story

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My name is Sandeep Saib and I have always wanted to get involved in mentoring at my former University and I finally had the exciting opportunity to do exactly that, thanks to QMentoring.

In February 2017, I was assigned to my mentee, Iqra Bari, who is currently in her first year studying History and we had our first introductory meeting at the end of February, followed by further meetings in March. I prepared an agenda for all of our meetings which was sent to Iqra beforehand to ensure that she has a direction and an understanding of the meeting objectives. It was key for me to ensure that I listen to and meet Iqra’s needs and requirements as much as possible in our mentoring relationship, and focus on areas which she would like to focus on and that it is really a meeting for and about her and what she would like to discuss. On the agenda, we also focused on Iqra’s training needs and goals and aspirations, which are as follows:

  • To gain a better insight into her chosen career path and to decide if it’s right for her.
  • To discover how to get to where she wants in relation to her career plan.
  • To gain further knowledge about her chosen industry in general.
  • To learn skills and qualities that are useful to a range of career paths.
  • To acquire a life experience which will enrich her.

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Graduate story: Merott Movahedi

merottMerott Movahedi is a senior software engineer at CompareTheMarket, part of the Marketing IT team, responsible for updating and maintaining the content management system of both comparethemarket.com and comparethemeerkat.com. He graduated from QMUL with an engineering degree in 2010, and shares his story below.

When I was a child, I wanted to become an adult, finish studies, and go to work, so that I wouldn’t have to study anymore… Such naïve thinking!

Just over 10 years ago, my mum and I left Iran and moved to the UK so that I could build a better life here. I was 17 years old, and I couldn’t even speak English beyond very simple phrases, so the first thing I had to do was learn English. I studied English for about 9 months, before I started my Bachelors studies at QMUL. Following three years of university studies, I graduated in 2010, and immediately started working full-time.

Despite my childhood hopes, working full-time hasn’t meant that I’ve stopped studying or learning. I don’t take exams any more (I hate exams), but I continue to learn new things every day. If you want to be successful, you’ll want to study and learn for the rest of your life, more so than you did during school or university. When you’re a junior on the job, you’ll be mentored and guided by your more senior colleagues. When you become more senior and experienced, you’re expected to mentor and support the new juniors, for which you must learn first. You’ll be expected to share knowledge and help your senior colleagues too.

Knowledge sharing, mentorship, learning and development will always be around, and are applicable to every field of work. Whether you intend to set up your own business, work in a startup, or in a massive corporation, you’ll be continually learning and improving yourself while helping others. At QMUL, you have a massive opportunity to give yourself a head start in that direction.

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Student story: Work experience in the heritage sector

jessJess Weeks, 3rd year History student

Every professional I have ever spoken to in the museum and heritage sector has told me experience is key. Unfortunately, it took me until my third year to understand how serious they were and how many resources were available to me at Queen Mary. One day I finally went to the careers office as I was struggling with making the decision between applying for an MA or just going straight into the world of work. They very clearly told me that work experience should be my top priority during my studies; my CV was limited and needed more to it, and the work experience would highlight the different fields and different jobs available within the sector.

I started looking at all the different companies and museums in the sector, paying particular attention to the Historic Royal Palaces because I love the Tower of London and Hampton Court. I noticed on their website they recruited volunteers and had apprenticeship and internship opportunities. Although none of these opportunities were advertised at the time I wanted to make a start and therefore I emailed all the people listed on the ‘contact us’ page because I was taught that there’s no harm in trying. I received a reply pretty quickly saying that there weren’t any opportunities. However, after a few weeks I received an email asking whether I would like to come in for an interview for the Learning and Engagement team of volunteers.

The interview was not what I had expected at all. It was much more informal and was primarily the team discussing their individual roles, what is expected of us as volunteers and what events we will be assisting with. We had to introduce the person sitting next to us and that was pretty much our talking done! We were then asked to select which palace was our preferred choice of work, I chose Kensington Palace and the Tower of London, and then that was it- we were officially HRP volunteers.

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