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Adedayo Adedeji

MEng (Hons) Chemical Engineering

Placement with BASF, Bradford (July 2018 – July 2019)

A profile picture of Adedayo Adedeji, placement student

Why did you apply to the University of Bradford?  Please include the following: What was your first impression of the university and the city?  What did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

I applied to the University of Bradford during the 2015 clearing session.  I had no previous knowledge of the University.  Upon my visitation, I was thoroughly impressed, the city wasn’t Leeds or Manchester, but it was diverse and active in its unique way.   The student-teacher ratio at the university was just what I wanted.  Stormzy coming down to perform during fresher’s week really did set the pace. The University had a lot to offer and there was a variety of extracurricular activities to get involved in.  I became a member of the Football Team, American Football Team, ChemEng Society, Red Ribbon Society and African Caribbean Society. My timetable was stacked with different activities aside from my lectures and this gave me the opportunity to network with people from across the globe.

Why did you choose that particular course?

Quite frankly, I wasn’t quite sure what chemical engineering was fully about initially, however, I was interested in Mathematics, Chemistry, and a bit of Physics and I was also keen on problem solving.  So I did some research on chemical engineering, I found it challenging and exciting and it suited my personality. It was just what I pictured it to be, the modules are very informative, and the laboratory work, and group work are also engaging.

What tips would you give to prospective students?

For anyone looking to join the University of Bradford, the one critical advice I have for you is to get involved.  At university level, just attending lectures and tutorials is the most draining thing known to man!  Even the lecturers have their own 5-aside football tournaments.  There’s a wide range of activities to be involved with, even if you do not like socialising or if you happen to be the shy type.  There’s something for everyone!

I once attended an interview at a very big chemical company, and I was asked several competency-based questions (about 7 questions) and the interviewer started off by saying “do not give me any academic examples”, which shows that aside from the fact that you get to network with different people, getting involved gives your employer the impression that there’s more to yourself than just getting good grades.

Alternatively, getting involved in a lot of things can be a problem, if you do not plan and stay on top of things.  Having a plan of when to do what, and knowing when to sacrifice some social activities to get your work done is crucial!  There will be times when your social life and academic life will clash, or times when you will be hit with that unexpected illness.  Having a proper plan will come in handy!

What support have you received from Career and Employability Services and Placement Staff?

The Career Consultant for the Faculty of Engineering and Informatics was very crucial in the process of me securing a placement.  The Consultant helped in correcting my CV and Cover letter by informing me on what employers are always looking for and how to construct my CV/CL to target the specific employer requirements. The consultant would constantly set up workshops that prepared me for interviews and assessment centres, which were very informative and engaging. The workshops gave me a huge confidence boost to approach any assessment centres or interviews.  Although there were times when I wasn’t too sure on how to approach certain companies, I knew I had a consultant who supported me throughout the process. 

I was able to book an appointment with the consultant any time I had an issue, even though we might have talked about the issue before. The consultant was happy to see me in person or if I wasn’t around the university, via skype.  The consultant constantly reminded me of the services provided by Career and Employability Services (e.g. psychometric tests and vacancy adverts that I might have missed). The consultant was always ready to help; I was never turned away and we got along very well.  Even though I wasn’t successful, the consultant never gave up on me and in fact the support was stronger day- by-day.

What action are you taking to improve your employability whilst at University?

In order to improve my employability, I consistently attend the workshops set up by Career and Employability Services; these workshops vary from how to improve CVs/CLs, to how to approach interviews and assessment centres.  I attend various seminars, lectures and keep my LinkedIn profile up-to-date and connect with people across different disciplines.

I once attended an interview at a very big chemical company, and I was asked several competency-based questions (about 7 questions) and the interviewer started off by saying “do not give me any academic examples”, which shows that aside from the fact that you get to network with different people, getting involved gives your employer the impression that there’s more to yourself than just getting good grades.

What advice would you give to your fellow students about finding placement and work experience opportunities?

My first advice will be to get your CV/CL sorted as soon as possible and start applying NOW!! Find the Link Career Consultant for your faculty and get your CV/CL checked.  Even if you think your CV is okay because you secured a part time job with it, it is still worth checking.  The Career Consultant for my faculty dissected my CV/CL and I realised that what I had wasn’t worth calling a professional CV.  Aside from that, you will need multiple CLs as the placement roles may vary, so it is well worth getting that sorted beforehand as this will ease applications over time and enable you to apply to a wide range of companies.  There have been times where I was too lazy to apply to a role because I didn’t want to type up a new cover letter and that was me missing out on potential placement role!! Therefore, it is well worth getting those two sorted before the year commences.

Secondly, I strongly recommend applying to the small companies first and apply well before the deadline. Aside from the fact that competition is high for the big companies, the “not so popular” companies are more likely to offer interviews and assessment centres and even if you aren’t successful with them, it would prepare you mentally for the big companies.  In addition, I strongly recommend practising the free psychometric tests provided before your applications.  From my experience, nearly all the big companies will throw some sort of psychometric test your way before going further with your application, and this can be really put you off, if you aren’t confident with psychometric tests before hand.

Lastly, it is quite easy to overlook the resources the Career and Employability Services offers and also quite easy to underestimate the services they render.  You’ll be making a big mistake if you fall into one of those two. Without the mock assessment centre, the mock interviews the CV/CL workshops and the one-to-one sessions that the Career Consultant for my faculty offered, I stood no chance!

I was unsuccessful for over 30 applications to the extent that I knew what a rejection email was before opening it, but I secured a placement roughly a month before my “graduation” (I was prepared to change from MEng to BEng); so never give up and just keep applying!

Tell us about your current placement

My placement at BASF has been exciting so far. I have been involved in two projects within my first month.  When I took over from the previous placement student; he was in charge of a ‘metering and monitoring project’.  The aim of the project was to be able to accurately account for the usage of various facilities (Steam, Nitrogen, Electricity, water, etc.) by each department. Although this project was near completion when I took over, I was privileged to attend a few meetings and presentations.

Currently, I am in charge of a multi million pounds project. The aim of the project is to analyse the current system that generate steam and electricity to the whole plant, and to decide if the current system is still the way forward. If not, my team and I have to come up with an alternative system to be implemented with justification.

So far, I have had the opportunity to network with various people from different fields, and I am constantly improving my communication, presentation and team working skills.

How will the placement year benefit you when you return to study at the University of Bradford?

I believe my placement year will help me in deciding what research I would like to carry out for my fourth and final year. However, the most important thing is that I will be able to use the practical knowledge gained in a professional environment to my studies.

In addition, my experience will give me a better visualisation of how laboratory work is carried out on industrial scale, and the safety precautions implemented at every stage.  Aside from that, my project management experience will make me more competent with handling group projects (confident in leading a team, following up on feedback, and working with people across different faculties).  I will also have bigger “resource bank” in-terms of research and finding out information, as I will have contact with experts at industrial level.

Finally, the placement year will also further develop and improve my key transferable skills, work ethics and therefore effectively prepare me for the highly competitive graduate recruitment process upon graduation!