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14 May, 2020 / BY Hannah Roberts

My journey from university student to commercial graduate

commercial-graduate-electronic-manufacturingIf you're someone who's long dreamed of a career in electronic manufacturing, then landing a place on a Commercial Graduate scheme is the perfect way to experience all areas of the business, from procurement and sales to engineering and logistics.

But what if you're feeling less certain about your options? Or are curious about the industry, but have a degree in another subject area and are maybe a little apprehensive about stepping into the unknown?

If there's one thing I've learnt from my own career journey, it's how important it is to stay open-minded and to keep your options open to new opportunities.

In this first of two blog posts I share a little of my own personal experience - from school leaver to University student to job seeker - and all of which has paved the way to my current role as a Commercial Graduate at JJS Manufacturing.

The path to university

For as long as I can remember I'd been adamant that I wanted to get a university degree.

I think this certainty was driven by seeing my Dad’s achievements (despite him not having a degree) all of which fueled my own personal motivation.

Of course, different things will influence different people, but my Dad's success was definitely a factor that spurred me on.

Funnily enough though, although I was determined to go to Uni I didn't feel overly pressured at school to make any big decisions about my future.

As important as I knew it was to be aware of different career paths and options, I just wasn’t 'drawn' to any of the suggestions.

So instead I decided to take my education day by day and leave all the ‘adult decisions’ for when I'd finished school.

Eventually though I reached the stage where I couldn't put off those big choices any longer.

 

Specialise or generalise?

What exactly was I going to study?

Should I pick my specialisation from the very start and hope I'd still be interested enough in it three or four years down the line?

Or should I try and keep my options open by choosing a degree with a wider variety of subject matter?

In the end I decided to go for a more generalised approach and enrolled in a degree in Business Management and Strategy.

Why business studies? Well, my thinking was, we'll always need business right?

And even if a business uses only robots in the future, we'll still surely need a human with the vision, ideas and strategy to drive things!

Which University?

Having already moved out of home, and with bills to pay, my home life was set up exactly how I liked it, so I knew that I wanted to be able to commute to University.

I also knew that, being the social butterfly I am, living in halls might prove to be too much of a distraction for me!

Being able to combine full-time study with part-time paid work was another important consideration.

Fortunately, the University of Gloucestershire provided the solution. It was close enough for me to stay where I was living and it offered a full-time degree course over two days a week which meant I could combine my studies with part-time work.

Naturally though, things weren't always plain sailing. With two full days at Uni, a dedicated study day and working part-time, my plate was pretty full and I did sometimes find it hard to juggle relationships with friends.

A few of my school mates had also opted to forgo University altogether and go straight into full-time jobs within their chosen career path.

Seeing them forging their independence did occasionally leave me wondering if I'd be able to stick out three years of study - and if it would all pay off in the end.

Fortunately I did...and it did!

Life after University

I finished my final year of my undergraduate degree on the 3rd June 2019.

I remember it well, as I don’t think I slept for a week, what with the worry of going over my dissertation time and time again.

My deadline was 9am and I was off on holiday with my Dad that evening to celebrate.

I should have been feeling over the moon. But I just felt lost and couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn’t ready to let go of university life.

It was in this moment though  - in the realisation that I didn't want University life to end - that I knew with 100% certainty that I'd made the right decision to stick with my studies. 

After a week’s break it was back to reality and time for the job hunt to commence.

I had it all worked out. I was interested in the beauty and fashion industry so I decided I’d send my CV to all the big brands that I loved, I'd hear back from them in a week and before I knew I'd have landed the job of my dreams…

Well, how wrong I was!

And how glad I am too, because here I am now - writing about my experiences in a full-time graduate position at an electronic manufacturing company.

So how exactly did I get my current role?

In my next post I'll talk you through each step of my experience of the Commercial Graduate recruitment process - from finding a suitable vacancy to submitting an application to nailing the interview process.

In the meantime too, if you're curious about what a career in the electronic manufacturing industry entails, you can check out our eBook on Employment Opportunities.

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