What did you do in addition to your degree to enhance your employability and what do you feel you’ve gained from this?
In the summer before my final year of university, I spent 16 weeks working full time for a small company close to home which manufactured in-vitro medical diagnostic devices. I was fortunate enough for my experience to my recognised as part of a work placement module in my second year of my Biological Sciences course.
As part of the experience I was required to complete a number of work based learning assignments, which were not related to my day to day work for the company. One of my assignments required research into what information was required to be included in the labels of the medical diagnostic kits to allow them to be marketed in the EU. I found this assignment particularly interesting as it suited my attention for detail and opened my eyes to non-bench based career options for science graduates. I credit this assignment to introducing me to the role of a Regulatory Affairs professional which ultimately led to my decision to apply for my current job role.
I spent 3 years volunteering for the former Spirit of Enniskillen Trust, a cross community charity which I felt strongly about, and it is my experience with this organisation which I credit most for my skills development. During this time I gained a wealth experience in working with others including facilitating workshops on leadership and dialogue in schools across Northern Ireland; planning and participating in workshops and residential weekends on topics relevant to young people with other volunteers and attending conferences amongst other activities. All of this experience increased my personal confidence, introduced me to networking, and above all else made me feel more comfortable about being in a challenging environment. Balancing my responsibilities as a volunteer with attaining good grades at university, as well as working part time has prepared me with important time management skills of which I use daily in my current job role.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s
For my current position at Genpact Pharmalink, I was required to complete a CV and Cover Letter and so I booked a career guidance appointment in order to seek advice to strengthen my application. The guidance I got from Queen’s put me in a position to better showcase my skills and experience, along with highlighting my relevant course content to match the specification of the job I was applying to. I now feel I will be able to sell myself more effectively when opportunities arise to further my career in the future. Putting together my CV also made me feel positive about the time I had invested in obtaining work experience and volunteering as I felt I had skills which matched what the company was looking for.
Any advice for other Queen's students?
When looking for a job, don’t restrict your searches to the main recruitment websites as more thorough research can unveil opportunities. I discovered the company I currently work for by doing research into the field I was interested in and asked the careers service at Queen’s if they knew more about the company which helped me understand what they did a little better. Following this, I continued to check the company’s website for vacancies during my final term at university.
Try and undertake a range of work experience at university. As well as my summer work placement I spent one day a week in a secondary school for a term as I thought I would like to go down the teaching route. I found that my work experience in industry however introduced me to roles which I wasn’t aware of, which suited my personality more than teaching. Additionally having responsibilities within clubs, societies or other organisations while at university are invaluable for gaining skills which will be sought after by employers.