Dan Marker – BSc (Hons) Computing graduate

Current employer: Land Registry

Current job title: Software Developer (being promoted to Infrastructure Engineer)

Current location: Plymouth

“The placement gave me additional funds, which came in very useful. Ultimately, I managed to secure a job with the same firm.”

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

I have been working for the Land Registry. After completing my studies, my contract was updated from part-time to full-time. This was the proof that the hard work I had put in during my studies had paid off.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

I think the best thing that I have done to date has to be presenting a new service on behalf of my team to the Senior Programme board. It was very nerve-racking, but it was also a great experience from which I received some great feedback. It was great to be given that much responsibility and it's something that I can now build on throughout the early stages of my career.

How well did Plymouth prepare you for the challenges that you have faced, or will face, in your career?

There were a variety of people on my course who really helped me to get used to working with a wide range of personalities, which prepared me for work – where the same happens again! Plymouth University definitely prepares you for working life, which is such an important part of any degree.

If you did a placement how did this impact on your short and long term career plans?

As soon as I had the first lecture regarding industry placements, I straightaway began looking for a placement job. I actually spoke to members of the Land Registry when they attended a careers fair on campus. They were able to answer my questions and made me feel like I wanted to work there. Following this, I went through the application form (which was from their own website), before being selected for interview, and then having to take two additional "exams" based on the company's recruitment process. After passing all of these, I was offered the placement job! As well as crucial experience, the placement also gave me additional funds which came in very useful. Ultimately, I managed to secure a job with the same firm. I did this part-time whilst completing my degree and I now have a full-time contract.

What are your top tips for students hoping to undertake a placement year?

Be prepared because, as soon as an opportunity arises, you have to go for it. Don't put it off and apply for placements as soon as possible. Securing a placement really helps you get that crucial practical experience in the workplace, and it is one of the few times where you don't need previous experience to get the job (well, for most placements). Securing your placement sooner in your second year at university also gives you a clearer mind to focus on final assignments, removing the worry of "what are you doing next year." It also helps with planning accommodation, whether that is going back home for a year or exploring somewhere new.

How pivotal was your placement in helping you to secure graduate job?

Well, it was the pivot! During the placement I managed to apply for jobs as an 'internal' candidate - this is really where the phrase 'get your foot in the door' comes into play - as it meant that I had opportunities that external candidates did not. I have since been promoted from the job I secured, which was down to the employer being flexible in assisting me with regards to finishing the final year of my degree whilst working part-time. This helps both financially and professionally as you start to build your network in the 'real world'.

What were the benefits of undertaking a placement?

As well as the practical experience, networking really did become an important aspect of my placement - you go from being a student with a degree (well, part of a degree) to a professional who is also learning. This opens up several doors to contractors who you may meet, external suppliers, or just opportunities of career progression within the company as you become known to the people around you.  Learning skills which aren't just theory-based, but have a practical element, also embeds knowledge which you have learnt as part of the degree, allowing you to use it in real-life situations to make a real positive difference to your employer.