Invest in Your Future: Advice for final-year students from our industry panel
On Tuesday 7 March we held an event for final-year undergraduate students to connect with alumni, postgraduate course leaders and local businesses.
We were joined by an expert industry panel for a discussion about the current skills shortage and how this is impacting the workplace.
Our panel was made up of:
- Alex Winter – Human Resources Manager at Paxton Access Ltd and Brighton uni alumni
- Devin Yuille – Group Recruitment Manager at Paxton Access Ltd
- Vincent Kane – Help to Grow Programme Manager and senior economics lecturer
- Phoebe Goff – current Marketing Management BSc student who completed her placement at IBM last year and has been offered a grad role beginning this September
The skills shortage
Alex and Devin shared what they’re looking for at Paxton in graduates.
“We’re looking for you to engage with us. Social skills, real life-skills and face-to-face conversations are really valuable,” said Alex. “Know how to spark up conversations.”
“It’s about a balance between being sociable and being able to hit deadlines so you need to be able to prioritise,” shared Devin.
Phoebe shared some insights from her placement year at IBM: “They mainly wanted to know about me as a person rather than my knowledge. They’re people employing people.
“On my placement year I grew my confidence. I learned to be assertive [because] being able to say no is important.
“I also built my presentation skills and copywriting – even just things like sending an email.”
What can you do now?
“Answer the phone, answer emails, attend events like this,” shared Vincent.
Alex agreed stating: “It’s all about getting experience and getting face-to-face with other people.”
“There’s so much you can do with Linked In. You can add volunteering, your interests – it tells me that you care about who you are and what you’re trying to show,” said Devin. “If you’re on there, put in a bit of effort.”
Phoebe suggests using your module experience to talk about in job/placement applications and interviews. “There’s so many people competing for the same roles so talk about experiences you have, such as working on live client projects.”
Looking to the future
As for where the world of work is going, our panel had some advice.
“Hybrid working is the future and we have the technology so I can’t see it going back. Artificial intelligence is going to change things – a technology role is the best move you can make,” said Devin.
Vincent agreed stating: “Learn how to code. Don’t see learning as something that ends the day you get your gown.
“Build skills that you can use for short-term work that solve problems for people. I work with businesses and they will pay.”
Alex spoke about the importance of finding a company that aligns with what you believe in: “Find something that aligns with your values rather than the first thing that comes along.”
One piece of advice
The panel then shared their one piece of job advice for our students:
- Vincent: “Be a nice person – be courteous and be nice to everybody. And don’t take rejection personally, it’s just not your time at that job.”
- Devin: “Don’t be afraid to get it wrong the first time. The first job you get probably won’t be the one you stick with.”
- Alex: “Be yourself. We want to get to know you to see if you’re going to fit in at our company.”
- Phoebe: “Be authentic and align your experience with what you care about. My managers at IBM said they saw a spark in me as a person – be yourself and that will shine through.”
Thank you to our panel and event contributors for an insightful evening, as well as our event sponsors – our Help to Grow: Management course.