Mohammad Idrees graduated from Aston University in 2021 with a BSc Business and Management degree. He recently secured a role as a Learning and Teaching Administrator for the University of Birmingham, so we caught up with him to find out how he secured the role, how his placement experience helped with his career plans and what advice he has for other final years and recent graduates.
How did you secure your role?
After multiple meetings with Adam, one of the Careers and Placements Careers Consultants, my standard of application increased to a point where I was receiving more and more interviews. I failed to pass the interview stage for my first interview at Newman University. However, this was good practice for the interview for the role that I would secure.
Once receiving the invitation to interview at University of Birmingham, I met with Adam again to go over interview prep such as the different (potential) questions that would come up – this meeting also helped calm my nerves.
One great resource that I would recommend is the Prospects article on competency-based interviews. I answered all of the questions before the interview using the STAR format and this definitely helped. Some of the questions came up verbatim whilst others were a variation of ones that I’d prepared for, so my mind had already gone through the thought process of answering them. This was a huge help.
I felt confident after the interview and I received a phone call two days later with a job offer.
Did you receive any support from Careers and Placements when looking for a graduate job?
I received a huge amount of support from Careers and Placements. Adam helped with drumming down what level of roles I should be looking at, how an application should look, and how to navigate the interview. I wanted to work in higher education so help from Careers and Placements was especially helpful for obvious reasons. I went from not really knowing what to write in the application to being able to help my peers with their applications. This would not be possible without the guidance that I received. The skills that I have gained over the past few months will help me in the rest of my career when I look towards promotions or securing work elsewhere.
Did you secure your job during the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes, I secured my job in May 2021 before restrictions were relaxed more. I was highly motivated at the beginning of my search because I thought I had the right mix of qualifications and experience. Motivation started to wane after being rejected from a LOT of companies. So much so that I was considering undertaking a PGCE and becoming a teacher. However, I persevered and kept applying to suitable roles, and it paid off. I will now be working in the Birmingham Business School and look forward to working my way up.
Did you do a placement or gain any other work experience before securing your graduate role?
I undertook a placement at Aston University in the Research and Knowledge Exchange department. This was one of the most helpful things in my university life because it made me realise that I would like to work in higher education. Before this, I honestly had no clue what I wanted to do in terms of a career. However, after working at Aston, I enjoyed the work, the pay was good, and the work-life balance was perfect for me. These things combined confirmed for me that HE is where I want to be – I would not have had this ‘epiphany’ if it wasn’t for the placement that I undertook.
How are you feeling about starting your graduate job?
I was initially nervous after having accepted the role, but now I’m excited to begin my career and the different potential avenues I can go down in HE. I’m also looking forward to receiving a proper paycheck month-to-month.
What advice would you offer to current final year students or other recent graduates looking for a role at the moment?
Definitely engage with Careers and Placements. It will greatly increase your chances of securing interviews and subsequently a job. In addition to this, expect a lot of rejection and expect motivation to ebb and flow, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, when it comes to job applications, make sure you are aligning your experiences (both professional and academic) directly with ALL the requirements and responsibilities of the role. This might seem like a long exercise, but it will help raise your application above others.