My time at Brighton

I chose Mathematics with Economics BSc(Hons) at Brighton for its focus on teaching practical applications such as programming skills and the option to do a placement year. I felt that the university and my course focus on providing students with education as well making them employable by creating opportunities to develop their interpersonal skills and gain practice through various opportunities.

As well as the option to do a placement, university offers many internal volunteering and employment opportunities. Throughout my time here, I volunteered as a course rep as well as a PASS (Peer Assisted Study Group) leader and worked as student ambassador which included assisting applicant days. In addition, I had an amazing opportunity to work as a note taker in Computer Science classes where I got paid and picked up programming skills.

I have met interesting people along the way and built relationships with people on my course and lecturers. The mathematics department is relatively small meaning everyone knows each other, and I have never been intimidated to approach lecturers as a result – whether it’s for advice or a friendly chat.  The staff in the maths department have been helpful and pleasant from our first day to the end. When there were issues, they were brought up in the course board meetings or informally and acted upon.

For my placement year I stayed in Brighton where I worked as an MI Analyst at The Pensions Regulator (TPR) where I gained my first industrial experience as I was mentored by amazing analysts. My key role was to supply data to the management across different departments in order to help them make business decisions and improve their operational planning based on their teams’ performance. For the length of my placement, I led an automaton project for a timekeeping software that helped estimate the cost of cases and other projects. Whilst automation didn’t take longer than a few months, due to the project’s success alongside a series of workshops and presentations I brought to the leaders of the business, more enquiries about the system came in from across the organisation. As a result, I became the main consultant for the time recording system, whilst also taking on small ad hoc requests for internal data gathering.

I enjoyed working at TPR as it was an excellent learning environment. I gained invaluable experience from having my own project to manage throughout the length of my placement as it allowed me to work independently while still having professionals around me for any needed support which provided me with the perfect balance. The most challenging part of the job was addressing less technical audiences and communicating complex information, but the nature of my role gave me a platform to sharpen these skills. My placement year has made me more confident in many areas including my programming skills, communicating complex information and building professional relationships.

Studying for a degree in mathematics has evolved my way of thinking and turned me into a problem-solver making me comfortable to independently explore new topics which now makes every new challenge seem like an opportunity. It was rewarding to study at two different schools in the university (School of Computing Engineering and Maths and Brighton Business School) as it meant I had the chance to communicate my ideas with different audiences before I came to my placement, which helped me with my application and the job itself. In my final year, I have been using the skills gained during my placement and I am excited to use a mixture of them in my post-graduation career.

Silvia Sakalyte • March 25, 2019

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