Darren graduated with a BSc in Mathematics in 2013, he is now an Applications Consultant at Oracle Corporation LTD.
Ultimately everyone comes out with a degree, but it's the experiences you've had at university which will equip you with the skills to succeed in the future.
Did you complete an internship or other work experience whilst at university? Did your internship/ work experience lead directly on to a graduate job or further work?
I completed Accenture's two day residential boot camp and PKF's work experience week. Neither of these lead directly onto a graduate job or further work although my contact at Accenture (an alumni of The University of Manchester's physics department) played a significant role in securing my current role.
What has been the highlight of your graduate job so far and your biggest achievement within the role?
The City of London Festival has been the highlight of my job so far. Whilst not directly related to my work, I've been able to witness some truly extraordinary live performances as my work allows me to stay in London over the weekdays. Of course there's living in expensive hotels and dining in really nice restaurants, but that's part and parcel of being a consultant. My biggest achievement is passing the OPA fundamentals exam with a score of 97%.
Did you take part in any other schemes, programmes or events during university that you feel helped you secure work after graduation?
I did a bit of freelance tutoring, was a PASS mentor, took part in a Cinderella Pantomime, organised a Facebook peer support group for my year, organised a weekend away, hosted a dinner party, was a STEM ambassador and a student ambassador for the School of Mathematics, took part in the School of Maths' employability audit and instructed support classes for a mathematical typesetting system.
What advice would you give to students who are applying to graduate level jobs and what skills/experience do you think are necessary to be successful in such an application?
Perseverance - it can be rough being rejected time after time, but you have to keep at it and always ask for feedback.
Be realistic - top graduate employers only have so many spots and are fiercely competitive. There's no shame in settling for a smaller company. It's more important you get your foot in the door.
Start early - the earlier you start thinking about your career, the sooner you'll have one after graduation.
Network - this isn't just a buzzword. It's finding the people who do what you want to do, picking their brains and then using that knowledge to secure your dream job.
Refine over time - initially you should be considering all the options that are available, casting the widest possible net to catch as many interesting jobs as you can. Over time, you can filter these out and find out what you really enjoy.
Be proactive - use social media to keep up with companies you're interested in, use RSS feeds to keep up with career related news, use LinkedIn as an online resume to catch graduate recruiters.
Is there any other relevant information that you’d like to include which you feel would be helpful to our students?
Ultimately everyone comes out with a degree, but it's the experiences you've had at university which will equip you with the skills to succeed in the future. Be opportunistic and don't be afraid to fall flat on your face. The more experiences you have, the more you'll know about yourself and ultimately that'll help you decide what you want to do in the future. Also, lots of stuff makes your CV rather impressive. That said, don't believe the hype. Plenty of people will tell you to do something just because it looks good on your CV - don't. Do it because you enjoy it, because if someone asks about it and you really hated it - what are you gonna say?
Applying to a graduate scheme can be a daunting task for an undergraduate. Can you tell us about your experience of the application process and is there any advice you can offer on being successful at each of the various stages of recruitment?
Applying for a graduate scheme is a daunting task and unless you're quite lucky, you'll stumble quite a few times before you succeed. I've done a number of telephone interviews, psychometric tests and one-to-one interviews and assessment exercises. Ultimately, it all just comes down to practice. Psychometric tests are just a lot of practice and either you can do them or you can't. Telephone interviews are about sounding enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the job you're pursuing and engaging the interviewer. Likewise with one-to-one interviews, but you need to be more mindful of your dress sense and body language. As for assessment exercises - that's anyone's guess really. My advice is just to use the careers service and practice as much as you can. I was also fortunate to have a very career savvy friend to help me along my way, so try and find someone similar in your life. Also, find that one person who'll tell you everything you need to know about the role you're pursuing. Make sure you make plenty of applications (I'd say about 7-8 at any one time) and try to specifically target industries you're interested in.