Graduate story: Paul Webb, QMSU Volunteering Coordinator

paulwebbI graduated from Queen Mary with a degree in Film Studies in July 2017. I started on a joint programme of Film and Drama but switched to single honours Film after first year. I’d never studied either subject before and quickly realised that I was passionate about cinema.

Alongside my studies I worked as a team leader in all three of the cafés run by Queen Mary Students’ Union – The Learning Café and Ground (Mile End) and The Shield (Charterhouse Square). I started my degree when I was 22 so had lots of experience in catering and hospitality. I luckily managed to secure my job at The Learning Café before I started my course. Moving from Newcastle to London, I knew I needed a reliable source of income. The job was extremely convenient and perfect for a student because my managers worked my shifts around my timetable. I developed skills in customer service, staff supervision, time management, prioritisation and lots more, all of which I still use every day. As a student staff member, I was also able to take part in the QM Skills Award which I completed in second year. It offers lots of brilliant free training sessions in transferrable skills like project management, financial planning and cultural awareness. You can find out more here:

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Student story: My first assessment centre group exercise practice

Nadim1Nadim Ahmed, second year BSc Accounting and Management student, recently attended the Grant Thornton group exercise practice. He tells us more about his experience below…

What happened?

We were given an assignment brief which outlined the objectives of the project and the main questions we were required to answer; this was supplemented with theoretical data. Then we were given 30 minutes to discuss the case study together and prepare a short five-minute presentation and discuss our answers with colleagues from Grant Thornton.

How useful was the experience you had?

We were all given one-to-one feedback, and I believe this was very important and has highlighted attributes and skills which I demonstrate clearly and also highlighted areas where I could potentially improve. Overall feedback was very positive and has boosted my self-confidence.

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Graduate story: Sara’s Civil Service success

SaraHello everyone, my name is Sara! I graduated this summer from Queen Mary with a BSc Economics and Politics and I am now studying MSc Development Economics at another university.

During my last year of my undergraduate degree, I applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream and I received an offer for a place on the Government Economic Service (GES) scheme. However, I decided to defer my entry until next year in order to complete my Master’s first. For me, there were two main reasons behind the decision to do a Master’s.

Firstly, I wanted to specialise in a particular field of economics. During my undergraduate degree, I took Development Economics as an optional module and I found it really interesting, so I wanted a chance to study it more in-depth. Secondly, I’d like to pursue a career in International Development, which is quite a competitive field. Looking at different job opportunities both inside the Civil Service (e.g. Department for International Development) and outside in other organisations like NGOs or international organisations, I realised that most required Master’s level qualifications.

When I applied for the Fast Stream, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. At the time, I was applying for Master’s courses as well and that was my main priority. I applied for the Fast Stream mostly as a backup option and to practise in view of applying to graduate schemes this year while I was doing my Master’s. I did not expect to get so far on the application process, but I was very lucky to have the opportunity of deferring my place to complete my Master’s and I’m very happy now to have everything sorted out for when I finish university!

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Graduate story: from QMUL to the Civil Service

fullsizerenderNiva Thiruchelvam, Law graduate

Niva Thiruchelvam (NT), graduated from QMUL with a law degree in 2003 and began her career with the Civil Service Fast Stream in 2007. Since then she’s had a variety of interesting and exciting jobs, from running Oliver Letwin’s office in the Cabinet Office to negotiating EU-level changes to Free Movement policy.

She spoke to Yasmine Hafiz (YH) about her career journey.

YH: How did you become interested in the Civil Service?

NT: I fell into a career in the Civil Service. I’d read law at QMUL, and the natural next step would have been to go to law school, and then to become a barrister or a solicitor, but that didn’t hit the spot for me.

While I thought about what I wanted to do, I took various jobs, including one in the then Department for Constitutional Affairs. It was an excellent introduction to the world of policy in the Civil Service, and I loved it. I’d never really thought about the huge amount of work that went on behind the scenes to make things happen – from the conception of an idea, through to legislation in Parliament, and so on.

I discovered that the Civil Service offered a wide range of roles within each department, and that really appealed to someone like me. It’s an ideal path for someone who’s interested in everything, so I applied for the Fast Stream and my Civil Service career began there.

YH: What kind of jobs have you had within the Fast Stream?

NT: My first Fast Stream role was in the Department for Constitutional Affairs (now Ministry of Justice), getting stuck into Scottish devolution and how Scotland’sconstitutional arrangements might be strengthened.  I helped to set up and support a cross-party, independent Commission reviewing Scotland’s devolution settlement.  As part of this, I led work on communications – this ranged from running town hall events in the most remote parts of Scotland to developing a media strategy that encompassed print, broadcast and social media and involved liaising with the political editors of the major Scottish newspapers.

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Why starting up a business while you’re a student could be the best decision you ever make: an interview with PhD student Ovando Carter

ovOvando Carter won a Grow It award while he was an undergraduate to develop his parkour business. The business has gone from strength to strength, and he’s now continuing his education with a PhD at Queen Mary while starting up a brand new technology startup.

Tell us a bit about yourself

When I first started out I was studying an undergraduate degree in Physics, but I soon felt that there was something missing. Often I could find no connection to what I was studying in the lectures and the real world. Mostly, I wanted to get a good education so that I could get a good job, but the deeper I got into the education system, the less it looked like anything I was learning had any direct connection to the greater world. It was very hard to choose another path because I didn’t know much more about other degrees than I did for physics, and for me, reading about the courses in brochures and attending open days really didn’t help me at all. In the end, I decided to continue with the Physics degree but take on some modules from the Engineering department to see if I would find some larger purpose in them. 

When did you first discover you were entrepreneurial?

I was looking for a job but couldn’t find a company that either (a) offered jobs relevant to my degree or (b) would hire me. We were still recovering from the global recession, and a lot of graduate schemes were so competitive that they would discount you if your A-level grades were not to the standard they set. At this time a Careers Consultant at Careers & Enterprise found out that I was working on some part time projects that she noticed I was very passionate about. She asked if I’d ever thought of creating a business, and then directed me to some fun QMUL competitions, “Try It” and “Grow It”.

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QConsult case study: Mats Syversen


Applications are now open for QConsult Spring 2018 – click here for further information and to apply. The deadline for applications is 10am on 27th November. Please see below to read about Mats’ experience on the programme this time last year…

My name is Mats Syversen, and this summer I graduated with a BEng degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Queen Mary. Last autumn, I applied to take part in a programme called QConsult run by Careers & Enterprise at QMUL. This is a paid scheme where you, as a student, get an opportunity to work closely with working professionals, as a consultant, to solve realistic business challenges as a part of a team.

If you are successful, you will be split into project teams consisting of 5 people, with whom you will be solving the project brief together with. In my group I was assigned the role of Project Coordinator, which meant I would be working closely with the client, making sure the deadlines were met, and, most importantly, making sure all the team members were being included and heard.

No prior experience of consultancy is needed, as training will be given before the start of the project, which is why this project is suitable for anyone who’s interested in gaining relevant work experience as well as networking with professionals and other students. During the project, you will receive frequent feedback, advice and support from the Careers & Enterprise team, to make sure you are always on the right track.

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Graduate story: SBCS to QTemps success

35127929411_040c522062_zHi! I’m Piriyah and I graduated this year from Queen Mary with a biomedical sciences degree and am currently working in a temporary role as a Data Administrator. At the time of graduation I had decided that I wanted to follow the traditional path of a life sciences graduate and pursue a career in research. Now you may be wondering why I decided to apply for this role….

It was during my final year, that I came to realise that my ideal job would be one in which I could spend the entire day working in the lab. This is because I thoroughly enjoyed carrying out a lab-based research project for my final year dissertation, which unlike most students, I would say was one of the highlights of my 3 years at uni.

Not only was I able to work alongside researchers, who are experts in their fields, but I was also able to get a full experience of all the components that comprise research in academia. Although the project was challenging, I had really enjoyed my time working in the lab, to the extent that I made the decision to pursue a career in research!

By the time that graduation arrived I had an idea of what sort of job I wanted but I hadn’t planned on how I was going to enter into the field of scientific research. My immediate options were to apply for further study, to look for entry-level laboratory based roles or training placements such as in hospitals.

However, these options weren’t straightforward. With applying for a masters, I couldn’t decide on which field of science that I would like to specialise in. I wanted to make sure that the masters I applied for would feed into the sort of subject that I would be interested in possibly carrying out further research in.

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