David Chidell - BSc (Hons) Computer Systems and Networks

Current employer: Cisco Systems

Current job title: Network Consulting Engineer

Current location: Reading

“My degree allowed me to get an internship which landed me the job I am in now. I worked throughout my final year for Cisco and went straight into a full time job the day after I finished my last exam.”

Did you decide to change your career path during your studies?

No, I had a goal in mind when I began my degree which was to be in the position I am now.

What, if anything, would you have done differently at university?

Nothing! I’m perfectly happy with what I did. I probably could have made more of an effort socially; however, I would not have wanted my social life impacting upon my degree and, consequently, my career.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Do an internship: it’s hugely valuable and marks an entry point into a career. Often the work involved in such a programme may not be 100 per cent to your liking; however, I believe it’s very much along the lines of “you get out what you put in.” Aim high and don’t underestimate yourself. Personally I wanted to go to Cisco, so I made sure I got there.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

My favourite memory of studying at Plymouth is playing about in the labs: it’s amazing how much you can learn by doing things casually. Often it’s far more productive to think of something you want to do and figure things out for yourself. The staff are there to guide you on topics of uncertainty but it’s extremely valuable to take the initiative and do things yourself rather than simply following instructions. This is a quality which an employer will look for, so better to embrace it sooner rather than later.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Yes. Experience is inevitably more important than academic qualifications; however, you need a starting point. My degree allowed me to get an internship which landed me the job I am in now. I worked throughout my final year for Cisco and went straight into a full time job the day after I finished my last exam (as I am writing this I am still a month away from graduation, and I’ve already been working as an engineer for three months). As a result, I finished my degree with a 1st class honours, two years of experience, my technical certifications (2x CCNA and my CCNP), very little debt (as a result of working for two years) and a job with fantastic career opportunities. What more could you ask from a university degree?

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

As I’ve already said, do an internship! Don’t shrug off the opportunity as it is possibly the best one you have. Also, enjoy yourself! You’re not at school any more, a degree is something you should really want to do and you enjoy learning about. If that’s not the case, really have a think about what you want. A degree is for four years (if you do an internship too) which is a long time to be doing something you’re not going to enjoy.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying computer systems and networks, please visit our BSc (Hons) Computer Systems and Networks and MSc Network Systems Engineering pages. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the Faculty of Science and Engineering are currently doing, please visit the computing  and mathematical sciences interest area.