At 18 during my interview for Mechanical Engineering I quite confidently stated that I intended to pursue a career in consultancy engineering and eventually become a Chartered Engineer. And the basis for this? About 2 weeks shadowing at a consultancy company and thinking that it might be what the interviewer wanted to hear.
Ultimately, the reality is that when you are applying to university, or even during your degree, you may not have a concrete idea on what career path to pursue. There probably is that one person who knows exactly what they were going to be at 5 years old and is on it from Day 1, but rest assured you have time and resources to decide your vocation.
Believe it or not, going to university isn’t just attending lectures and passing exams. When you are at university you have an amazing opportunity to boost your CV and prepare yourself for life after you graduate. Honestly, as a medical student, I know I have more time at university than your typical undergraduate but the thought of graduating is already making me a little nervous. Here are a list of tips and advice I have gotten to help build those systems and networks to support you in your career.
Networking is an amazing way to make connections in your industry before you even graduate, go to events and talks run by your university, department or the career service and get curious!
As summer is approaching, this is the time of the year where students are all panicking about finding a summer internship to ensure that they have a fruitful summer. Students often search for summer internships for a few reasons. Some students would like to use summer internships to gain more exposure to the different industries they are hoping to land a graduate job in, as experiences in industry allows them to apply the knowledge they have learned throughout the year and to enhance their passion for the course too. Employees love to see students who go an extra mile to learn something, and it increases your chances of getting hired significantly.
My Final Year Teaching Module
One of the absolute highlights of my time at Imperial has been taking part in M3T, a module offered in the Mathematics department that is titled “Communicating Mathematics”. This project module basically involves spending 1 day a week in a secondary school during term 2 of your final year. Since the secondary school I attended is very nearby to Imperial, I was lucky to do this project there.
During my first 2 or 3 visits I spent most of my time just observing lessons. During the term I would be focusing on 3 groups of students, Yr9 middle set, bottom set Yr11 preparing for GCSEs and a Yr12 Further Maths class.
When you’re a student, it’s good time to start serious thinking about your career development. CVs, cover letters, interviews, internships, graduate schemes… all of these can be daunting for someone unfamiliar with the professional world.
Thankfully, Imperial doesn’t leave you alone with that as Careers Service offers you all necessary career development support. Don’t underestimate its value! In my case, Careers Service has proved useful several times already.
The range of available services is wide. There are lots of online resources, e.g. the CV writing guide and interview preparation tips. Additionally, you can book one-to-one tailored sessions, where you get personalised help with job applications and interviews.
Module Choices, Job offers and tough decisions
Whilst my first two years at Imperial could be largely summed up by my extra curricular activities, coming into third year I have decided to focus my attention on my degree in order to secure that 2.1. (I’m not that academic :/ )
With this in mind, my first step was to decide what activities I would continue into final year, and what would sadly have to face the chop. Having been elected President of MathSoc, I knew that this would be my biggest focus and would take up most of my free time.
Did I manage to get an Internship?
Here’s a timeline of how I finally secured my Second Year Summer Internship at one of my favourite companies.
August – It’s all about the CV
A year in advance I found myself sitting in the waiting area of an empty careers service getting my CV checked. I would throughly recommend using the service over summer before they become extremely busy in October again. The careers service was able to not only identify key experiences I should include in my CV but also suggested some structural ideas. Whilst I know loads of people who LaTeX their CVs (overkill IMO) I think that you can make a perfectly good CV on Word.
Everything that was going through my head when I firmed Imperial
For any perspective students reading this post, you’re probably going through the daunting process of selecting your firm and insurance choices on UCAS. I remember this being quite an important decision and a lot of time and thought went into making it so I thought I would share some of my thoughts on choosing universities.
After being a student caller, speaking to perspective students and answering all the questions over the phone, I started thinking about all of the reasons I myself chose Imperial and I thought it would be useful to share some of them with you.
And my experience at Imperial
Studying Maths at Imperial does not only mean living in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, but also being a part of a top world ranking Mathematics department, boasting two field medalists. However as a woman in this department what I have appreciated the most is having female role models such as Professor Emma McCoy. Through lecturing me in first year, she not only taught me statistics in such a thorough and engaging manner, but who has also inspired me to focus my studies on statistics. By bringing in real life scenarios, including her own passion for cycling statistics, marathon times and rather controversially road traffic accidents, McCoy managed to convince my entire cohort that statistics was one of the most enticing areas of mathematics with countless applications in the real world.
The work that wasn’t revision during the holidays
During the Easter holidays, aside from catching up with friends, going home for a few weeks, and of course revision, I had some time to do some other cool stuff in and around the college and even got paid for some of it!
A couple of weeks before Easter break, I attended a careers talk in the maths department which was all about how to approach companies in search of jobs and internships but also advertising the services we have access to as students at Imperial, such as CV checking. One such service that was advertised was the First year work shadowing scheme.