Harness the power of business networking

Megan's time at Plymouth has set her up with the confidence and skills to track her success in operational resources

Megan Case

LLB (Hons) Law graduate 2017 | 5 minute read | 12 February 2018 | Follow

“All it took was a course that I enjoyed, an engaging and passionate teacher and a great exam result for me to realise how successful I could be in my degree.”

Being empowered at Openreach

After graduating from Plymouth, I spent my summer working to enable me to purchase my own house in East Anglia, which has allowed me to avoid renting in London by commuting to work. I also visited Thailand for two weeks with my partner. We travelled to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Krabi and Bangkok. 

I joined Openreach in September 2017, the year of my graduation. My first two weeks consisted of an induction to BT, Openreach and my role. It began with a two day induction at BT’s research centre in Ipswich. Here I met the other graduates, our graduate lead and several directors and managers. Those running it were engaging, passionate and relatable, just as the guest speakers were. We were also taken to BT Showcase, which was an amazing opportunity to see the new technology currently in development, which was interesting and inspiring.

After that the Openreach graduates came back to the Kings Cross office, which is both Openreach HQ and my base location. The following eight days were an Openreach focused induction, where we met a number of important people – on more days than not we were introduced to the director of a number of areas of the company and given a talk by them. We were also very lucky to be able to speak with the CEO, Clive Selley, himself. 

I met my line manager in my base office on the Monday after my induction and since then my work has involved a number of different responsibilities and getting involved in a number of projects. On paper, my job role requires me to take ownership and be responsible for the strategic resourcing model and capacity plan; for tracking business performance against financial and service targets; and to ensure my region is fully aware of their financial performance against budget.

I am grateful that on my second day working with my manager he invited me to attend a meeting with the top level managers in my part of the company. This enabled me to network and build professional relationships at an early stage of my career which I feel has absolutely benefitted me – each of the managers, including the director, recognise me and know me by first name. Aside from the ability to network, the opportunity enabled me to form an informed perspective on the work we do from both an engineering and business perspective. It was really interesting to see how the two meet and interchange. 

I am currently responsible for the landing of 62 new recruits into my region – I must ensure they are trained sufficiently and prepared in line with the recruitment plan to enable the landing to be seamless and have a positive impact on the business. 

Although the aforementioned responsibilities are key to my role, they are not exhaustive. Already I have been involved with a number of different projects and tasks – most weeks I am contacted by colleagues from a variety of departments with a new task. I also seek work for myself. For example, I recently took the initiative to send a survey to my new recruits for feedback on their traineeship so far, and organised a call with the senior HR manager, who used the feedback to ensure next year’s traineeship is improved. Within a week I received an email from the traineeship leader with substantial changes that fully reflected the feedback I gathered – this shows that graduates really do make a difference and your voice is absolutely respected.

Openreach is a really welcoming company and there is a drive at the moment for a bottom-up work style, which empowers employees at the ‘bottom’ rather than a micro-management, director down style. The label of graduate provides you a fantastic opportunity within Openreach to get involved in anything, present ideas and be respected as a manager, while still being able to hold your hands up and say you don’t have a clue what someone has just said, or how to do something. And you truly are treated like a manager, the same as any other.

Choosing Plymouth

I was happy with my choice to study at Plymouth. It is where I grew up and I was very comfortable living at home. From a young age, I have been focused on financial stability and felt this option would best enable me to be financially stable during my studies and upon graduation.

Studying at Plymouth prepared me for my career well. Although I have not continued with law, the skills I developed throughout my mixture of practical and theoretical courses are relevant to many job roles in a variety of sectors. My lecturers encouraged me to develop my written communication skills and gave me feedback on ways to do so. I was formally tested on a number of practical skills including client-interviewing, negotiation and public speaking. Each of these and the soft skills they entail are pertinent to most job roles.

It is obvious that the law school are trying to do something different to other universities, to enable them to stand out. There was a clear desire and motion in process to make courses more practical and representative of a job. 

There were a number of extra-curricular activities, societies and competitions to get involved in. I saw first-hand the impact they had on my peers – they have gone on to do some amazing things. I would therefore recommend to network, network, network! I was so engrossed with my job and commitments outside of University, I failed to get involved with any extra-curricular opportunities within the University. There are so many societies, competitions and other activities to get involved in which provide such an excellent opportunity to build on skills that are pertinent to becoming employable. It is an opportunity to network and build relationships with people that could positively impact your life by something as small as a contact of someone in the industry, or a small piece of advice, or a recommendation or reference to something large like a job offer.

My career aspirations or plans, have never really changed all that much. Something that did change, however, was my belief in myself in Year 2. All it took was a course that I enjoyed, an engaging and passionate teacher and a great exam result for me to realise how successful I could be in my degree. If only I could have realised this in Year 10 or earlier – I might have been even more successful than I was with my results. From Year 2 onwards, I wasn’t settling for anything less than a first in my results. I knew from one of my courses that I could do it and that all it would take was a bit of extra work and revision. 

I still stand by that – if I have one tip for students at any stage, it would be to do revision as your course progresses and give yourself just one day to get some measure of a mock exam/answer/however you are measured into your lecturer. Even if you use all your revision notes up to that point to form the mock answer without any self-thought, the feedback from your lecturer is invaluable – after all, they are who marks the real thing. You can find out exactly what they are looking for, and if you play your cards right using the past exam papers – you may even be able to predict the type of questions that will come up. My favourite memory of Plymouth was being graded 82 per cent in an exam, which is a great mark for a law degree and was a shock to me.

Aside from practicalities, Plymouth is such a great place to live – especially as a student. It has everything you will ever need including umpteen gyms, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, café’s, and transport options – all cheap or luxurious. Even the luxurious ones now seem cheap to me! This isn’t something I appreciated until moving to South East England – transport is much more expensive, gyms are expensive and unless you pay thousands in rent or mortgage repayments, you’re usually not that close to the above mentioned things. 

Since graduating from Plymouth, I would do one thing differently – I would grow up a tiny bit slower and travel the world in the summer between graduating and beginning my job. I missed out on this due to wanting to purchase my own house, which was absolutely worth it, but if I had to change something this would be it. I have no compelling explanation for why I would do that apart from the fact that I love travelling, I love new cultures, I love trying new food and I love the sun – and that in my view, no type of work will ever beat winning three table tennis games on a white sand beach, while the sun sets in front of me.

– Megan is now a Operational Resources Manager for Openreach in Kings Cross, London.

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