My journey from Aston University to my first graduate job in the UK

Guest BloggerGraduates, Graduates in Focus, Guest Blogger

During the 2nd and 3rd year of my Chemical Engineering degree at Aston University graduating in July 2017, I was working a part-time job at Reiss in the Bullring. Here, I often tailored suits for my customers and advised them on the various items to purchase for holidays, weddings and more. Due to the nature of the job, I often built fantastic customer relationships resulting in many customers specifically requesting to be served by me in store (a great feeling if you have ever worked in retail!).

During the 2nd and 3rd year of my Chemical Engineering degree at Aston University graduating in July 2017, I was working a part-time job at Reiss in the Bullring. Here, I often tailored suits for my customers and advised them on the various items to purchase for holidays, weddings and more. Due to the nature of the job, I often built fantastic customer relationships resulting in many customers specifically requesting to be served by me in store (a great feeling if you have ever worked in retail!).

At the time I was finding it very difficult to land a summer internship or a 12-month placement. In fact, I didn’t gain any work experience whatsoever during my time at Aston. Subconsciously, I decided that gaining work experience via the traditional placement application route wouldn’t bear any fruits.

Out of interest and a bit of initiative, I always asked customers about the careers they were in, as I would encounter a lot of senior professionals shopping in-store. I explained to them about my career ambitions and the value of what a degree from Aston offers to any organisation. I then mustered up the courage on multiple occasions to ask for their contact details to continue the conversation about any opportunities in their respective companies (if they said no or didn’t reply to my emails, it certainly didn’t spell the end of the world!).  

In terms of how much communication you should maintain pursuing things this way: I wouldn’t advise anyone to bombard any person with tons of lengthy emails. Just keep it short and sweet!

I would send emails every 3 to 6 months from February 2016 (the month I started working at Reiss) updating them about my exams, dissertation progress and anything interesting going on in my life like the speech I did for the Kenyan Embassy in December 2016. In addition, I would ask them about things going on in their industry. Lastly, I would always end the emails requesting news on any work experience opportunities arising; as in the corporate world, there are often vacancies that are not publicly advertised.

Since consistently following this communication pattern, I was sent an opportunity in January 2018 to join SUEZ’s in-house consultancy team of which I started in April 2018 (and the rest is history!).

My top tips (or the morale of this story):

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for an opportunity that is staring you in the face, as if you don’t ask you surely don’t get!
  2. Be comfortable in the face of rejection, it’s a part of life for everyone. Don’t let the possibility of rejection prevent you from getting that opportunity destined for you!