Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself? (briefly about what you are studying etc.)
I am currently a BA Honours Business Management student on my placement year at IBM. I work within the Sales and Marketing team that specialises in providing technology services to clients. The role at IBM is very flexible as it allows me to explore and gain exposure to other areas that interest me such as social media, cloud and consulting; which are considered as three key growth areas in the firm. I have a huge passion for business and IT, having studied both subjects at GCSE level and A-level and I was thrilled to find a firm that focuses on both these areas and corresponds to my interests. With regards to my involvement with university during my placement year, I am currently an e-mentor for first year students and I am also part of a number of societies including the Accounting and Management Society.
Why did you decide to study at Westminster Business School ?
I decided to study at Westminster Business School because I felt that it offered a large range of broad or specific courses to suit an individual’s skills and interests. A course such as Business Management enables you to gain a range of business knowledge without having to specialise through a pathway before you have any idea of what you want to do. However, at the same time, if you have an interest in a certain subject such as Finance, you can still choose option modules that allow you to develop expertise in this area. I applied to study a four year course as I wanted to go on a placement year and gain valuable experience in industry, which the WBS course allowed me to do. Lastly, I believe the location also influenced my decision to study at Westminster Business School as it is situated in the heart of London, which is great. Overall I am glad that I chose to study at Westminster Business School as my degree has allowed me to develop my business skills and put these into practice through my experience at IBM.
How did you get onto the IBM placement scheme? Can you briefly talk us through.
I first learned about the scheme when IBM delivered a presentation at Westminster Business School about the organisation and more specifically, the Industrial Placement Scheme, which I found really interesting. After I applied for the scheme, the recruitment process took approximately five months and consisted of a series of tasks such as an online application form, a number of tests, two assessment centres, as well as face-to-face and telephone interviews. I found the process quite challenging because I was required to balance my university work with the various application stages. Overall the process was a great experience that allowed me to develop my teamwork and presentation skills.
What skills have you developed so far through the IBM placement scheme?
I have developed a number of important skills in the past five months at IBM. Firstly, I have developed my teamwork skills as I work closely with a number of Sales and Marketing specialists, sellers, managers and executives. I have also developed my analytical skills as one of my key roles is to analyse the deals and revenue in the quarter as well as support the sellers. In addition to this I have also developed verbal and non-verbal communication skills by presenting and assisting with reports. My placement year has allowed me to gain first hand experience with a large corporation and put my business knowledge into practice.
Everyone is talking about employability skills, what do you think is the best way to increase your employability skills during your academic studies?
I believe the best way to increase your level of employability skills such as teamwork, communication and problem solving is to get involved and try and show some leadership. For example, try to be part of societies, groups and activities and take part in challenges such as the IBM Universities Business Challenge (which is something I was involved with in my second year of studies). By actively taking part, you are developing your skills by working with others, by communicating and working effectively, which is what employers are looking for. I believe you can also increase your employability skills by being a leader in group tasks and organising your colleagues effectively when working on assignments and presentations.
With increasing competition for jobs I would say there hasn’t been a more vital time to try and develop your skills. There is not a better opportunity to do so than at university with the range of things you can get involved with to develop your skills and stand out from the crowd.
If you were asked to give one piece of advice to students what would it be?
The one piece of advice I would give to students is to get a diary/planner to record when your assignments are due, when your exams are going to be, what work is required for seminars etc. By doing this you will develop your organisation skills, which will allow you to flourish in your academic studies as you are less likely to leave assignments to the last minute and forget when to read the weekly chapters from your textbook. Overall I believe this will allow you to improve your assignment and exam grades and reduce the level of stress that many students face.
How do you relax out of the university/working environment? What are your interests/leisure activities?
I think listening to music is always a great way to relax after work/university. I enjoy going to the cinema, meeting friends and watching television shows like The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den. I am keen on watching football and playing golf. I also have a big interest in web design and development and started my own business venture in 2011.
What does the future hold? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I plan to come back to university to complete my final year of my degree. I then hope to gain some experience by doing a graduate scheme and thereafter explore other roles in the organisation I work for. My ultimate goal is to start my own business and develop a brand like entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Richard Reed have achieved with Virgin and Innocent Drinks respectively.
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