Although I really enjoyed the social activities and participated in sporting activities, I had already decided prior to coming to Durham University, that I would concentrate heavily on my academic studies in order to try and achieve the best possible degree. This approach proved to be successful for me personally as at the end of the second year I was awarded a Vice-Chancellors Scholarship for academic achievement. This is a very prestigious award at Durham which is only given to a handful of students, it involves a ceremony where students sign the historic Scholar book at Durham Castle. The history involved in the scholarship is something unique to Durham. This award helped me to stand out against other candidates when applying for graduate training programmes.
Starting my career journey
I attended the career fairs at Durham which gave me the opportunity to speak to potential employers from some of the top companies in the UK and influenced me to apply for various graduate training programmes.
During the application stage I had a meeting with a Careers Advisor from the University’s Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre, who offered advice and on preparing my CV. This also helped give me the confidence to approach applying for a graduate programme with one of the top FTSE 100 companies.
My current position
I am currently on Essentra’s PLC graduate scheme as a commercial graduate. This is a two year programme which involves international travel as well as working throughout different departments, such as Sales and Marketing. This training programme compliments the work I did at undergraduate level, as the modules are very similar (marketing, finance, leadership, etc.) however, they are more practical, rather than theory based. This has allowed me to apply the work I did at undergraduate level to my role currently in the business development team.
At the end of the two year programme it is my desire to be fast tracked through the management team and reach a senior position within the organisation, something which would not be possible unless I had gained the experience and been constantly challenged during my three year degree programme at Durham.
Reflections on my time at Durham…
One of the things that stands out was the opportunity to complete my dissertation working closely with an international company, Toni&Guy. This entailed creating my own questionnaire which was approved by their UK Marketing Director and then spending a week at one of their busiest salons in the country at Cambridge, collecting data which was then analysed and presented in my dissertation. The highlight of which was that Toni&Guy decided to use some of the recommendations that I made following the collection of this data to change their servicescape within their salons internationally and I was even acknowledged in their published year book for this work.
My advice to a current Durham student would be…
The three years at university passed me by extremely quickly and my advice would be to engage fully with the college activities, while at the same time remembering that the ultimate goal of going to university is to achieve the highest possible academic degree which will set you up for life.
Careers advice at Durham University
The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre (CEEC) help students to achieve their career or entrepreneurial aspirations through a series of careers fairs, forums, workshops and individual appointments with qualified careers guidance and business support professionals. Visit them in the Palatine Centre, Durham or Ebsworth Building, Queens campus to learn more about the opportunities you can get involved with and the support available to you as a Durham University student.
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