Damien Bone, ITMB graduate
By Damien Bone, ITMB Graduate
After working in various jobs for a few years after leaving school, I wanted to improve my career prospects by obtaining a degree in IT – I could see that IT was the way to go as every aspect of business was being taken over by IT systems. I chose the ITMB course after some thorough research. It stuck out not only because it was an accredited course, so supported by major corporate companies who would be able to offer a career path, but also because it seemed to offer all the skills and knowledge needed to work in IT Management which is what I was ultimately aiming for. I chose UWL after visiting the university and being impressed by its campus and location at the head of the M4 ‘IT’ corridor which I thought would be good for IT jobs.
I was initially accepted onto the ITMB with Foundation course because I hadn’t met the entry criteria for the degree, but by the end of the induction period the course leader had come to the conclusion that I would be more than able to handle the first year of the degree, and that as a ‘mature student’ (i.e. over 22 years of age!) it would be in my best interests to complete the degree in 3 years, so she transferred me to the BSc Hons degree.
The course was as I expected – a lot of focus on team working and project management in addition to acquiring sound IT skills. But what was not expected was the level of employer contact – the Tech Partnership supplied regular speakers on ‘state of the art’ topics, organised workshops, and notified us of placements and job opportunities through the ITMB network. Most notable were the bi-annual ‘Away Days’ organised for students across the 20 or so universities running the ITMB, where hundreds of ITMB students met for a day of inspirational talks, master classes, skills workshop, competitions – and good food! The day also incorporated a careers fair made up of Tech Partnership affiliated companies, which gave you the opportunity to network with their staff and learn about the range of jobs available in their companies, the best way to apply, how to stand out in the application process etc.
One of the most important modules on the course for me personally was the ‘Group Project’ where we had to work in teams to develop ‘live’ projects for SEGA (the international games company) using Agile ‘SCRUM’ methods. Having to do progress presentations in the company boardroom in front of SEGA’s Chief Development Officer every three weeks was certainly a reality check, but I must have done OK as at the end of it I was offered a paid summer placement at the company. It was a fantastic experience – SEGA is a great place to work and they treated me as a regular employee, getting me involved in as much as possible. That experience made me certain that IT Management was where I wanted to be. A few weeks after I left the placement I received an offer out of the blue to attend an interview for a job at a well known corporate insurance company. I was surprised as I hadn’t had any contact with the company – but found out that this was directly as a result of the reference SEGA had given me on LinkedIn – and goes to show that a good endorsement on Linkedin can take you far!
Towards the middle of my third year, however, I applied for a position as an IT Systems Specialist for a corporate company, responsible for supporting IT infrastructure and working on projects to improve customer experience in the company’s EMEA area – why not aim high, I thought. As interview after interview progressed, I began to believe that I was in with a chance. Finally, after various online tests and interviews with managers from all over the globe, I was offered the job. My manager later told me that they were particularly interested in me not just because I was in line for a decent degree, but because my course had such a broad IT and business scope and they especially liked the fact that I’d done a Business Intelligence Technologies module (good old Big Data!). All in all, I’ve been very fortunate to have studied a course that really suited me and to be supported throughout by a great course team and great colleagues.
What advice would I pass on to future students from all this?
- The ITMB is a great degree and employers seem to like it because it places IT in the context of business – and let’s face it, there isn’t an organisation anywhere that doesn’t use IT.
- Getting a good degree is just part of the package that you need to get a good job: You also need to develop those project management and ‘soft’ skills – these are at the heart of the ITMB.
- You also need to network: Networking will increase your confidence, allow you to develop contacts who could potentially find you a job, or at least let you know about jobs/work experience out there – and the ITMB is all about networking.
- You need to get some kind of work experience on your CV. This doesn’t necessarily have to be paid – on our course we were continually being pushed to do projects for charities or to enter for various competitions. But you have to have something there, to give you a heads up over other equally good candidates!
- Aim high and believe in yourself! With hard work and self belief you can achieve those goals!