Alex. Mathematics With Management Graduate. University of Southampton.
1. Tell me how your career journey has gone since you graduated?
Immediately after graduating I went on to do an internship at UBS bank before completing a year long masters at Southampton University. Both of these gave me both a sense of what I did and didn't want from my first role, but also enabled me to understand what is required to specialise in a particular subject area. My first post-masters role was for two years as an operational analyst for the AA at which point I went on to join BAE Systems and am still here five years on. I have gone on to a variety of roles at BAE Systems within the Financial Services Software & Consultancy arm (from analytics, project leadership, pre-sales and product management). I have also taken part in a number of volunteer initiatives with Young Enterprise Scheme.
2. What was your motivation for choosing this career?
In my career I always strive for two things: 1) a challenge and 2) a sense of purpose. The decisions I have made in my career have always been centered around these two goals and they have enabled me to focus but also be flexible in what particular role I do.
3. In the beginning did you use your degree knowledge and skillset you got from uni?
Absolutely, not just the tools and techniques I learnt (mathematical programming techniques mainly) but also problem solving and the ability to disseminate information to a variety of audiences. The latter is critical in working life and I felt the MSc based around real world business problems allowed me to build that skillset before working life.
4. What new skills have you developed?
Leadership and decision making are the two things I have worked on heavily over the last 8 years or so. I choose the word leadership over management because they mean two different things. You don't have to manage teams to help lead teams and give direction - its about growing a sense of ownership and purpose to that team and a freedom to enable the teams to build their own destiny.
5. At this stage are you where you’d hope to be in that time frame?
Hard to tell as I feel my career has taken lots of twists and turns and I didn't really have 'a plan'. However I am really pleased with the experiences and skills I have gained in my career and the fact that I am still really enjoying my working life - ultimately that is the most important thing.
6. Did you have a career plan?
Not at all, and I still wouldn't say I have one specifically now. It is great if you do but I don't think not having one should stop you growing, developing and making clear goals for your self in the short term (next year or 2).
7. How did you make it happen?
Build relationships, understand not only your job but those around you and have an appreciation for the stresses and strains they are under. Understand what the overall organisational strategy means for you and try your best.
8. Who did you take advice from?
A number of people in and outside of my business. I think growing a network of people you can be honest with about your career is really important.
9. What advice would you give a fresh graduate?
Don't panic if there isn't the "perfect" role out there for you. Most companies nowadays (large or small) will enable role movements and often what is on a job description can be made flexible to fit your skills so you are providing maximum value.
10. Any challenges during the transition from uni to work?
Being concise. In working life not everyone is an expert in your field and explaining often complex issues in a simple matter is a difficult thing to master. I am still learning.
11. Advice for first week and few months of a new job? (office etiquette, politics, etc)
Make friends, say yes to events, and ask questions. No question is stupid and people are there to support you succeed.
12. Anything you would do differently if you could start over?
There are always things I'd do differently with hindsight, too many to list. - but that's how you develop. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes.
13. One final top tip?
Speak up if you have issues/concerns/questions/requests. People aren't mind readers and people will try and help.
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