I loved every minute of my time at Nottingham University and I envy those of you still there. It was a great place to study: so many different people, loads of random activities and friendships that I’m certain will last for a very long time. I was at Lincoln Hall in my first year (unfortunately the year before they bought in the double glazing and mini-fridges!) and joined the Caving Club, soon dragging others underground with me. I learnt how to live with other people, how to budget on a shoe string and the importance of writing your exam times down very, very carefully. It was a learning curve to reach university standards but as the first year doesn’t count (apart from for a few unlucky people) I was happy that I could make mistakes (and I made many) and learn from them without repercussion. Nottingham University provided me with the opportunity to grow whilst providing a fun, bouncy safety net.
Brief description of your current role?
The great thing about the NHS Graduate Scheme is that it looks for potential. My only experience was paying for university through loans and work at the ultimate McJob so I couldn’t quote a long history of managerial work at the job interviews. Luckily this is a scheme that takes the general skills you’ve gained from university, your personal qualities and ambition and turns you into a good manager for the NHS in HR, Finance, General or Informatics. They do this through real life work experience and paying for any further education needed.
I’m currently on my orientation, which means I get to go round all the different parts of healthcare from sitting on reception at A&E to a day with a mid-wife working in the community. Though not quite as exciting as Casualty makes out, I’ve learnt a lot in just my first week. Soon I’ll be experiencing a number of roles from answering queries to implementing innovative projects.
Politics is a useful degree for providing you with a number of general skills: group work, giving presentations and information analysis to name a few. Like many arts subjects it is the experience rather than the knowledge that is most useful, though the research skills have turned out to be handy.
How did you find the job hunt?
My job hunt wasn’t as difficult as it has been for some. I applied to three graduate schemes very early in the year: Boots declined quickly, the civil service gave me an experience of an assessment day and the NHS gave me a job. I found out about the scheme though one of the workshops from the Centre for Career Development and went for curiosities sake more than anything else (the NHS isn’t just for doctors?!) However, I also subscribed to a website that emailed me whenever a new graduate scheme was advertised. Granted I got fed up of filling in the forms and so paid less and less notice to what was being sent, but it was there as a backup.
How did you make yourself stand out?
There is nothing special about me; nothing that anyone of my friends couldn’t or didn’t do. As far as I can tell I just filled in more forms sooner. I was elected to the Nottingham University Caving Club committee every year, but I did nothing spectacular. On the other hand, the majority of graduate schemes want a 2:1 or above so it’s really about balancing academia with enough of a social life to make you interesting.
Describe a typical day at work
There is no typical day! I think this is because I’m still in training and partly because I am quickly learning that no day is the same in the NHS.
Thinking back to your University experience, would you do anything differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently if I had the chance to experience university again. On the other hand, if I had known what my final result would have been I would have fought to stay there longer. I would say that (although progress has been made) students still need to find the money themselves in order to continue to master’s level on certain courses. The financial support just isn’t there for people from certain backgrounds to continue their education. I’m certain that I’ll love my job but I’m equally certain that I would have been very happy in research.
What advice would you give to current students?
Getting employed isn’t the be all and end all of university. They are an opportunity provided to a minority to study something that you have chosen, to meet brand new interesting people and to take part in activities that you never knew existed. If you take hold of that opportunity and use the facilities offered to you, such as the odd career talk, then apart from bad luck there is nothing stopping you from getting a job after university.