James Hawkins – BSc (Hons) Computer Science graduate

Current employer: 15Below

Current job title: Junior Support Developer

Current location: Brighton

“The computer science course at Plymouth covers a huge spread of topics and offers a wide range of options, which meant that I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and a variety of skill sets upon which to build different careers.”

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

Since graduating, I have moved directly into my new role at 15Below after a two month break in the summer. It has been a complete change of atmosphere compared to university life, but my experiences during my placement year allowed me to hit the ground running.

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

During my placement, I was lucky enough to take part in the L’Oréal football tournament in Warsaw, Poland. It was an incredible experience, and it allowed me to meet colleagues from all over Europe and the Middle East.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Get involved with more societies, work harder in the first year, and keep to a normal sleeping schedule when you can!

What was your main reason for choosing to study your course at Plymouth? With hindsight how significant was this for you?

Although it’s difficult to pick one reason, the main reason I chose Plymouth was down to the course’s focus on teaching practical skills – which is not to say that there was not an adequate coverage of relevant theory! I attended open days at four other universities and Plymouth won on location, facilities, and the friendless of staff. Plymouth welcomes computing students from a variety of backgrounds, and I think this leads to a more creative atmosphere.

How did studying at Plymouth change your career aspirations and plans?

The computer science course at Plymouth covers a huge spread of topics and offers a wide range of options, which meant that I was able to gain a lot of knowledge and a variety of skill sets upon which to build different careers. This has allowed me to have a huge amount of choice when applying for jobs. There is the drawback that you may not enjoy every module equally, but the rewards are worth all the effort!

What is your favourite memory of studying for your degree at Plymouth?

Although many people consider their dissertation being the toughest part of the course, with the right idea and approach it can be extremely enjoyable. I enjoyed almost every moment of my project (aside from bug fixing!), especially being able to almost focus fully on one particular task. This allowed me to develop something far more extensive than in other projects I undertook during my time at university. It was especially rewarding when the project was complete, and the wonderful responses I received when displaying it!

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

During my degree, especially from the second year onwards, deadlines came thick and fast. The only way to do well was to organise time efficiently. This is a skill that is directly transferable to the workplace. In addition to this, the emphasis on group projects gave an insight into working in a team environment.

Why would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University?

Aside from the University itself, Plymouth is the perfect place to start your life away from home. The city is small but, being on the Cornish border, is surrounded by beautiful places and filled with plenty of things to do. The weather can be spectacular and everything is within walking distance. I enjoyed the halls of residence in the first year and finding quality accommodation within a short distance of the campus was easy in the following years.

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

Completing a placement year at the Body Shop allowed me to stand out from other applicants when applying for my current job, as I already proved that I could handle the 9–5 routine and had experience working in a team. Even though the placement was infrastructure based it still helped me get a developer role.