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Conlloyd Gumbs

BEng (Hons) Medical Engineering 4 year sandwich course
Placement with IBM, Hursley, (Aug 2015-Aug 2016)

Conlloyd Gumbs

Why did you apply to the University of Bradford?  Please include the following – your impression of the university and the city and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

The University of Bradford’s population is similar to that of my hometown, Anguilla, an academic island, where representatives from all corners of the earth live and study. They share cultural diversity, languages, social hobbies; unique in every way.  It was the ultimate package of variety and opportunity. A society I wanted to be a part of, while studying a course with an accredited engineering faculty.

Additionally, the university was within walking distance of the city centre, where affordable stores and markets dwell.  Student accommodations were the cheapest in the country, which I know would provide me with opportunities to explore England and nearby European countries.  I have had meaningful discussions with lecturers, academic staff, cleaners and students I met occasionally, which I loved the most.  It’s inspiring to see the unbelievable stories of each individual’s journey to the University. In general, time at Bradford is a chance to receive memorable moments that will last a lifetime.

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

I have always had a passion for Engineering and Design and used every opportunity I obtained in academics and work experiences to further explore this. My aunt’s encounter with multiple sclerosis planted a great interest in Biology for me and was one of my greatest motivations that maintained my passion and drive for my course.  I believe we all can contribute to a legacy that makes living a little easier for someone else and to be studying a degree that can create avenues to fuel my desire to impact people in a positive way, in itself, is rewarding.

Medical Engineering is a multifaceted degree that explored engineering, IT, biology, financial and production analysis, all intertwined into transferable skills and knowledge. Being able to learn more about the human anatomy and how the application of engineering principles can make the lives of people more meaningful were all I could ask for in a course. The most extravagant arrangement was that the course provided students with the liberty to gain invaluable working experience and explore career paths, throughout a 12-month industrial placement adventure.

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

There are numerous clubs to join! Whether religious, academic, cultural, artistic or athletic, there is always a society at The University of Bradford for anyone to feel a part of! The University has a very community oriented environment. As a result, it can become easy to relax and feel less pressured with school work. The faculty’s facilities provide fantastic resources to assist your academic performance. Just remember that everyday is an opportunity to build your future, so you should take advantage of each second!  University days are the most memorable of your career. Experience it and make every second count! Network, work hard, have fun and succeed the Bradford way!

The course provides a wide and unique range of modules that can be used to develop your mind as a student from a financial, biological and engineering perspective, both theoretically and practically. This will equip you with knowledge and skills that you need to jump-start your professional career. In addition, the academic team will provide you with all the support and guidance to be on your way, you just have to be willing to ask! Be prepared to work! Aim for your greatest and challenge yourself beyond what you believe is possible for yourself. Even when one obtains +90%, there is always room for improvement. Test your limits and expand your boundaries.

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

The Career Development Services were instrumental in my application process. It took me until March to decide a placement in my third year would be beneficial for me, but I would advice you to get an earlier start. Although I had already missed all their sessions that prepared students for applications, interviews and assessment centres, they were more than delighted to give me unbelievable support with the preparation of my CV. This may seem small, but for me, it was the first step that I needed to have a meaningful application and the necessary belief that securing a placement was possible.

More time passed, exams had finished and it was June. I had not received any offers by any companies as yet and I was scheduled to leave the country in a few weeks. The Careers Service team were still there to help me.  All I had to do was email them or drop by their office. They helped me review my CVs, find unpublished adverts of positions, as well as provided sound words of encouragement that kept me believing that there would still be time, even after my summer vacation.

If I knew about the Careers Service earlier, they would have been able to prepare me with everything I needed to get started way earlier. However, it was not too late for me and it is not too late for you. The Careers Service are always there to help, no matter when you start. Just take the time to contact their staff and believe me, you will not regret it.  The Career Development Services can be your first step into the professional world!

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

Coursework is a great opportunity to increase your employability. I have been able to use coursework in interviews to show my ability to pay attention to details and produce high results. Employers seek proof and what better proof than that of a solid coursework, which reflects you as a person?   Working at companies they often give you tasks, whether big or small. They want to know that you would take a lot of pride in your work and ensure you do your best to make it meaningful and of high quality.   Coursework is the best practice to learn how to manage time, whether I am doing it way before the deadline or the night before the deadline. It teaches me unknown qualities of myself and helps me to adopt to various forms of pressure.

I also take part in track and field, which keeps me challenged, focused, fit and disciplined. I am also part of the Music and the Debating and Public Speaking societies, which helps me to develop my people skills. I believe that there is no goal that hard work and determination can’t help you achieve. No matter how great or small, each experience can increase your chances of employability.

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

It is never too late to get an application out! There are companies who are willing to give you a shot, whether or not your degree matches the role. You just need to show your genuine enthusiasm to learn and demonstrate your immeasurable passion to develop and grow in a foreign environment.   

For starters, I am a Medical Engineering student, taking a Software Development role. I started my second year unsure of whether or not it would be beneficial to take my placement in my third year or fourth year. However, I spent time dedicated to school work and continued consistent involvement in curricular activities.  Eventually, I realised third year would be a great time to apply for a placement. However, time flew and by that point, it was already the beginning of March and I had not applied as yet. I thought by then that all placements would be finished. I am a testimony that it is never too late. There are placements available right up until September, so you should never give up.

My best advice to you is, if you do not gain a place on your first four or five tries, there is no need to worry. You are just one of the thousands who experience this. The ultimate goal is to be accepted by a company whose values match the values of yours and can provide you with immense levels of career development you need to jumpstart your career.

The reality is, this only needs to happen once. In a race to the finish line, each stride falls short of the end. However, when the athlete keeps running, eventually, he or she will reach success, when that single step finally crosses the line. The determination and experience will grant you stronger characteristics than you can ever imagine and you will grow beyond your wildest potential. In a race for food, the hungriest man will always win, because he knows the value of food. Placements are valuable. Know the value it can add to your career and you will be determined to surpass all obstacles to obtain a spot. It is the best investment you can make for your future!

Tell us about your current placement (include brief responsibilities).

My placement role is as a Software Developer at IBM with the WebSphere MQ Java L3 support. I work with a team to develop and improve a fundamental internal software programme in Java, to assist the company with analysis reporting.  The IBM Hursley base is in a remote location 5.5 miles away from my flat. As a result, I enjoy a daily cycle to and from work with other students.   The placement and graduate students I interact with on a daily basis are very friendly and driven, which presents great opportunities for networking.

The management and staff are very willing to assist with any questions or concerns I have.  They are all in for helping me build the skills and knowledge I need and desire for a successful career. There are sporting clubs and even giveback opportunities to get involved in, such as teaching in the community or developing new projects with different teams at the company. For me, it is an extension of university to learn and develop myself, whilst having fun within a professional environment.  Additionally, not having the responsibilities of coursework and assignments provides me with the freedom to explore nearby cities on weekends, such as London, Portsmouth and Southampton, just to name a few.

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

Independently, I have already benefited from the application process. It has given me a vast amount of experience in its procedures and what it takes to obtain opportunities. This would also be beneficial to students who are unsuccessful with placements and are willing to try the graduate programme after final year.

My placement will give me an arena to grow professionally, while contributing meaningful work to my team and the business I work for. This will help me to identify the wider picture on modules on my return to university.  It will also enlighten me on the various aspects of a business I enjoy most, which can be very useful for when I tailor my module selections in final year towards a particular avenue. In addition, I know a placement will allow me to better appreciate and make the most out of my remaining time at University.