Research has shown that graduates that the three factors which were most important to achieving a positive outcome from your studies are:
- getting work experience whilst at University
- having a career plan on leaving University
- making focused applications while studying.
So the message is to start your career planning early and get work experience.
You could therefore use your first year to explore different career options and try and different experiences to see what does and doesn’t appeal to you. You will then be a good position to make well-informed decisions in your second year and applying for work experience and preparing yourself to make informed decisions and high quality applications in your final year!
Gain work experience
While your degree might be considered to be the key to unlocking employment doors it is your work experiences – and associated skills – that will help to push those doors open.
Part-time work will bring in much-needed money during your degree while enhancing your teamwork, time keeping, flexibility and customer service skills as well as increasing your commercial awareness and overall professional attitude.
Placements, be they year -long placement or summer internships can dramatically boost employment prospects; in some cases, placement employers either offer students a graduate role or fast-track them through the recruitment process. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that students who have completed a placement significantly improve their academic performance in their final year leading to higher grades. Well worth thinking about!
Some of the employers that our maths students have secured placements with include;
- BMW (UK) Ltd
- Collins Aerospace
- General Electric Medical Systems Ltd
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
- Home Office
- National Air Traffic Services
- Office for National Statistics
- Plymouth Community Homes
- Plymouth Marine Laboratory
- Silhouette Software
- Thames Water Utilities
- Vocalink (a MasterCard company).
All of the mathematics programmes incorporate a placement year and/or work-based learning option and our Placements team will support you with identifying and applying for placements. You can research the opportunities with larger organisations on the specialist STEM careers website, Gradcracker.
Summer placements are a great short-term option for students to gain a brief insight into an industry and working culture. In 2019, students took up the following summer placements:
- accounts assistant at the local company JP Concrete Products Ltd
- software developer at BAE Systems
- statistician at the University of Maryland, Centre for Environmental Science
- analyst in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), in the Homeland Security and Technical Analysis Team
- data analyst in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Voluntary work is a great way to develop and enhance your professional skills and build confidence. You can also contribute an organisation or area that is important to you and make a real difference to the local community. The University of Plymouth Students’ Union
Volunteering team have excellent links with local organisations and promote opportunities at their Volunteers’ Fair and on their web pages.
Clubs & Societies
Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion
You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to mathematics such as MathsSoc or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.
Tutor and academic support
Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.