We catch up with six graduates recruited to local companies through the Graduate to Merseyside programme throughout 2012.
Four Merseyside based SMEs have opened their doors to allow us to catch up with the progress of six graduates they have recruited within the last year. Here we give a quick update on their progress:
Claire Gamble (Cirrus Purchasing)
Back in April, we featured Claire Gamble (BA Hons Marketing, Leeds University) when she was just beginning to take responsibility for data handling, managing tendering processes and undertaking research in areas such as contract law.
Fast forward nine months and Claire has recently completed a major analysis project for a housing association to help them develop their purchasing strategy, providing guidance on purchasing decisions about the features, timing and quantity of items procured. Claire is delivering reports for senior consultants on a daily basis and is aiming to bring knowledge of EU legislation into the support she provides to key customers, to help them throughout the tendering process.
Claire’s advice to others who may follow in her footsteps? “It’s amazing how much you can do with Excel! As an undergraduate, I was only using 20% of its capability, but at the same time I was acquiring the skills I needed to teach myself. Planning is also a critical component of this role which was another skill I picked up at University; in the ‘real world’, there isn’t always a clearly defined ‘exam question’, so you have to scope the project yourself and manage your time effectively.”
Claire was taken on for an initial six month placement, which has now become a permanent contract.
Ian Brown (Diamond Apple)
Founder of Diamond Apple, Steve Mitchell, with his history of working for blue chip companies like Sony, Atari and Sega, was looking to penetrate the exciting and rapidly growing market for consumer electronics, games accessories and mobile devices. To continue to achieve this, he needed a graduate capable of adapting and changing as quickly as the technology.
The recruitment of Ian Brown has proved inspired. Ian (first class MSc Computer Science, University of Liverpool) secured a position as a software engineer within weeks of completing his degree. When we featured him in July, he told us he was learning new skills by the day, writing the software and developing the technology within microchips that goes into products like motion controllers in games consoles.
“I’ve since been given one of the company’s key projects to work on,” he says, “which means I’ve released my own software internally within the business. The software is designed for use in the gaming controller for Android phones, so I’m getting to work on products that will hopefully be on the shelves in the near future. The nature of this type of work means I’m now also getting to work with overseas partners which is a great opportunity.”
Ian’s learning curve has continued to rise; he spends evenings reading up on new programming languages and uses the transferable skills he picked up at university to cross the subject divide, moving beyond computer science into engineering, where he’s quickly had to get to grips with circuit diagrams and how his software works with the hardware.
Ian’s initial three month contract is now permanent.
Emma Ashcroft and Sam Tasker (Energy Projects Plus)
Environmental scheme, Warmer Wirral, recruited two University of Liverpool graduates, Emma Ashcroft (MSc Biology) and Sam Tasker (MA Planning) in the summer of 2012.
Managers of the scheme, run by the charity Energy Projects Plus, which sets out to reduce the environmental and social impact of energy use within Wirral, recruited Emma and Sam as Project Officers for Partnerships and Performance Analysis respectively.
It’s only three months since we spoke to Emma and Sam, but already they’re making a considerable impact. Emma has developed a newly accredited training programme for frontline staff who deliver affordable heating programmes to vulnerable residents. Sam has extended his role beyond the job description of running reports and invoicing, into the development of a database that enables him to provide timely and accurate reports for partners such as British Gas.
Both graduates have quickly acquired new skills and have come to understand what the business values most:
“Taking a science degree required me to present my work at certain points, and I developed some valuable skills in doing so,” says Emma, “though it was usually to fellow undergraduates or lecturers who were already aware of the subject matter. Now, I need to tailor my presentations to the audience, which will include people from a variety of backgrounds.”
Sam adds: “For me, the biggest learning curve has been the importance of accuracy and timeliness. As an undergraduate, the pressure of completing your assignments accurately and on time is always there and really helps, but nothing can quite prepare you for the real thing!”
Emma and Sam are hoping to have their contracts renewed at the end of the business’ financial year.
Philippa Gray and Glen Jones (Liverpool Science Park)
At the heart of Liverpool’s knowledge quarter, Liverpool Science Park (LSP) is a hub of technology and innovation, providing office space and laboratories to high-tech businesses.
Graduate to Merseyside stepped in earlier in 2012 to help recruit graduates Philippa Gray (BA Hons Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Liverpool) and Glen Jones (MSc E-Business, University of Liverpool) as Operations Assistants.
Operations Manager, Sarah Gudgeon, has been greatly impressed with the attitude and energy that both graduates have brought to the team. She points out that Philippa and Glen have been thrown in at the deep end in their roles and have risen to the challenge.
Speaking on behalf of the two graduates, Philippa said:
“We’ve taken on a lot more responsibility and have established a good working relationship with the tenants. Our aim next year is to learn more about the various LSP contracts (for air conditioning, electrics, IT, etc.) as these impact greatly on our customers.
“For my part, I’ve learned how to multi-task and manage a large number of important items at any one time. When you have a large customer base it’s essential to react quickly and effectively but also to ensure that each customer feels valued, no matter how small the issue.”
Sarah added: “Philippa and Glen have settled into the existing team really well and are a hit with the tenants at Liverpool Science Park. As for the service provided by the Graduate to Merseyside team, it’s been faultless – it’s a service we recommend to our tenant companies at Liverpool Science Park.”
Philippa and Glen have fixed term 12 month contracts until August 2013.
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