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Muhammad Mota

BSc (Hons) Accounting and Finance

Placement with HMRC, Shipley (Sept 2018 – July 2019)

A profile picture of Muhammad Mota, Placement Student at HMRC

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

I had many universities in mind when I was applying, but I was told by a previous student that this university would be best for me for the particular course I was interested in. I have been to Bradford many times before as I live a few miles from the city. This meant I had an understanding of what to expect and it certainly did live up to the expectation!  Besides the brilliant education I have grasped from this university in Bradford, I have to say the variety of food places is very enjoyable.

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

I have always been interested in mathematics and problem solving, so when I was choosing what course would suit me best, the decision wasn’t really hard. I have members in my family who have graduated with a degree in Accounting & Finance, so after talking to them it was an easy decision.

The different skills I have gained from this course have really helped me, and I have enjoyed all the modules I have done. The one thing I have enjoyed the most is the mathematics side and crunching numbers, as I missed this opportunity at A-level.

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

Putting 100% effort is the main tip in doing well at university.  The lectures and tutorials are taught very well and made for easy understanding.  If a student stays on top of the work and puts effort in attending the classes, it will make it extremely easy not only to pass, but aim for a first class honours degree. A good balance of work and enjoying ones free time is essential in making this happen.

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

The Career and Employability Services/Placement Staff, have been extremely helpful in getting me a placement.  The Employer and Placement Consultant and the faculty team are very understanding and will help with every problem or obstacle that comes your way.  Regular emails about job opportunities etc helped me a lot, as I was drawn towards them which resulted in me getting a placement.

Getting my CV checked for each job and my cover letter was something I did not expect from the staff.  This shows how determined they are in helping you.  I regularly went to chat to the Career Services/Placement Team and in particular the Employer and Placement Consultant, and for every job I applied to, I had full help in the process; from constructing the CV and Cover letter, to the interview process.

Mock interviews and assessment centres also made me confident in my interviews and I never thought it would be this helpful. In a mock interview I had, I was asked some competency questions and the same questions came up in my main interview. Answering these questions was the easiest questions I have answered, as I was already asked about them and given feedback on my answer.

Gaining experience in a real life workplace will be beneficial towards my career. In this placement, I expect to gain skills I would not have gained if I just went ahead and completed my third year at university. Knowing what a work place really looks like will hopefully help and motivate me to try harder in my third year.

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

At University, employability was something I thought a lot about. Besides looking at students who achieve high grades, they are also looking at other skills. Each employer will look for core skills even though some skills may vary. The Career Services helped me in expressing these skills.  To improve my employability at university, I updated my CV and Covering Letter thoroughly and obtain feedback from Careers.

For the jobs I was applying for, I changed my CV and cover letter to the skills and requirements needed in the job description.  This was then checked my career services and was done multiple times in the year!

Doing a part time job also helped me improve my employability. I gained many different skills working part-time.  These experiences were shared and used as great examples in interviews.

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

Getting help and taking advice from the career service is the best way to get a placement. The staff are there to really help you get one. Attending workshops and getting your CV / Cover letter checked regularly will just make it easier to get a placement.

To ensure this happens a student must learn how to be comfortable at communicating with new people and very good at researching. The university holds few workshops each year where a variety of employers come and visit. This is the best time to sell yourself and make a good impression. Prior to these events the career service do provide all the information about the companies attending. Researching about the companies and having questions prepared is something I realised that employers really liked and appreciated.

Tell us about your current placement.

I started my placement role as a Project Support Officer (IT) on 3rd September at HMRC. Before commencing the placement, I was nervous on how a real life work place would be. Once I started, I settled in very well as the staff and work place is great. The flexibility in work times also helps a lot.

The team I was placed in specialise in software design. They work in a manner called “Agile delivery” and the team consists of 12 people.  Each individual has their own specialised role and the aim of this project is to create a secure data exchange service that can be used on the HMRC website for big organisations to transfer files securely.

At first the information was a lot to take in as I have never worked in this field before, but the help from the Manager and other colleagues was amazing and they have helped me along the way.  As I have just started, I have only received brief responsibilities at the moment which consists of me updating the timeline and writing a report that clearly shows the constrains, risks, assumptions, dependencies and issues of the project and then presenting this to the team in a meeting each week , as they do change!

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

Gaining experience in a real life workplace will be beneficial towards my career. In this placement, I expect to gain skills I would not have gained if I just went ahead and completed my 3rd year at university.  Knowing what a work place really looks like will hopefully help and motivate me to try harder in my 3rd year.