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Kulsoom Patel

BSc (Hons) Information and Communications Technologies (2017)
Associate Engineer, Callcredit Information Group, Leeds

Kulsoom Patel

Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city, and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

I applied to the University, as after visiting an Open Day, going on a departmental tour and speaking to some of the current students, I could see the University had very good facilities and the content of the course covered relevant topics in computing.  Prior to starting University, I went to a small school so when starting my course; I was in awe of everything. The computing labs are well equipped for the modules and you can also utilise them when there are no scheduled classes. I thoroughly enjoyed my university experience as I made some great friends and feel I have grown a lot during these past few years.

Why did you choose that particular course?  What did you like and enjoy most about your course?

I initially studied BSc ICT with Business during my first year.  Prior to applying for University, I was interested in studying a business related course, however, after visiting an Open Day and speaking to various people I realised I could study business alongside computing and these were two subjects which were of interest to me. The course offered studying a variety of computing modules such as Software Development, Computer Networking, Databases, etc which ensured I would gain a good understanding of the major areas in computing. The business aspect would ensure I was well versed in the role which technology plays in industry and gain key business skills. After starting University, I soon realised I enjoyed the computing modules more than the business related ones. The University was flexible and I was able to drop business and only study computing from my second year  onwards.

I enjoyed studying ICT as it is a practical course. The theory which was taught in lectures was followed by labs which allowed for trying out the material. This hands-on approach enabled for a deep understanding of the subjects and kept the content interesting.

What tips would you give to prospective students (about the course at University of Bradford and the university itself)?

I highly recommend studying a computing related course. There are many jobs within the sector entailing good employability prospects and there is such a variety of roles you will surely find something you enjoy. There is often a misconception the first year is not important as it does not count towards your degree, however, I would recommend working hard from the onset as this sets the foundation for the rest of the course. Sometimes the work can be a little intimidating, however, your perseverance will pay off. It is also useful to speak to students who are in the year above you as they often have good advice having just gone through the experience themselves.

There are ample opportunities at the University, both work wise and social events. Getting involved at University is great as you get to meet lots of different people. I was a PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) Leader during my second year and this helped me to develop personally as well as meet people from the University. There are tons of societies and extra-curricular activities which you can also join.

How did Career and Employability Services support you during your time at University?

I first visited Careers towards the end of my first year. The University run a Summer Experience scheme and I wanted to apply for a vacancy, however, I had never applied for a job before, so I was very unsure of what a CV and cover letter should contain. My first attempt at a CV was pretty atrocious so it did take a few appointments before I had a professional CV and cover letter. I also did a mock interview with a Career Consultant for preparation and this experience made me aware of the type of answers I can give to interview questions.

During my second year, I attended the Pre-Placement sessions run by Career and Employability Services for my faculty.  This offered good advice on how to find and apply for placements as well as informing me of the different stages involved in the application process and how to best navigate through these.   

During my final year, I attended some workshops run Careers on finding and applying for graduate schemes. Having already been through the application process when searching for a placement, this did put me in good stead, however, the workshops were a good refresher. 

Tell us about your current job ...

Callcredit Information Group manages consumer data across different industries. The organisation develops products and services to process this data for insights and efficient decision making. I will be joining the Software Engineering Graduate Scheme in September. The scheme involves undertaking a twelve week training programme in C#, Microsoft SQL Server and software testing. I will then be joining the Product Development Team as an Associate Engineer and work on live projects.

What action did you take to improve your employability whilst at University?

During my first year, I went to a Careers Fair and I was introduced to an organisation which I did some volunteering with. This allowed me to gain some work experience as well as support my local community. Taking part in the University Summer Experience scheme enabled me to gain some relevant experience in my field. I worked in the re:centre during the summer, to create some business profiles and develop the re:centre website. 

Undertaking a placement year was the most substantial experience to improve my employability. I worked at Leeds Beckett University in the Business Systems Development Team who are responsible for developing the in-house applications used by the University. This provided me with an opportunity to work as a Software Developer and I was able to develop an application from inception to deployment.  The year provided me with invaluable experience as I learnt much more about the field, and my colleagues offered great mentoring and guidance. My placement year reaffirmed my ambition to become a Software Engineer.

What advice would you give to current students wishing to enter this type of career?

Some entry level jobs in the field ask for a specific technical skills-set, however, not all. Interpersonal skills also play a major role and having some form of work experience demonstrates this to employers. If you have passion and enthusiasm for technology, employers can usually pick this up. I would highly recommend going on placement as I believe this has given me a huge advantage and I was better prepared for applying and securing graduate employment due to this.