How I got a great graduate role as an international student

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Abdulbasit Yekeen, B.Eng Hons Robotics graduate, talks through his UWE journey and graduate experience

‘If you are very good at what you do, building a career should be the least of your worries’

Since childhood, I have been curious about  technology and engineering. Designing electronic circuits and writing intelligent software were all I could think about as I grew older. I was very fascinated by robots and machines so studying robotics was a no-brainer. Many thought I had chosen a degree that was too specialized and that building a career in it will be very difficult. I was more than ready to prove them wrong because I believed that if you are very good at what you do, building a career should be the least of your worries.

‘At the end of the year, I had one of the best results’

Due to visa delays, I came a month late to the university. Various deadlines and lectures were already missed and others were very close. I had to spend long hours in the lab and also understanding various complex concepts fast to submit the assignments. My course mates were very kind and they assisted me in catching up with the rest of the class. At the end of my first year, I managed to get a good grade. During the summer holiday, I spent most of my time programming because this was my weakest skill. The second year commenced and I put in more effort into understanding every subject. The pandemic prevented us from doing various exciting practicals which could be used to demonstrate deep understanding with potential employers. At the end of the year, I had one of the best results, and getting a placement to apply my knowledge was the plan.

‘I reviewed my rejection letters and researched the skills employers were looking for. I think I may have actually applied to almost three hundred jobs’

I applied for several placement opportunities, and none were successful. The pandemic drastically reduced the number of placement opportunities and the few available were highly competitive. Over the holiday, I reviewed my rejection letters and researched the skills employers were looking for in potential candidates. My review showed that I needed to perform more practical projects and also learn C++(programming language). I found a good C++ on Udacity and spent several weeks mastering the concepts of the language. I also did various practical projects which could be showcased to potential employers.

Within that period, I got a two-week International Talent Internship with Milbotix and also following this a junior firmware engineer role with a company called DOMIN. I was very excited since this was my first experience working as an engineer. The Internship with Milbotix made me apply various skills I had learned personally and at the university. This internship opened the door to a lot of offers I did not even apply for. Every now and then, someone called me on LinkedIn about a potential opportunity somewhere. The results came out and guess what? I got a first-class and most of us graduated with a minimum of 2:1. Remember I said at the start that many thought getting a job was going to be extremely difficult. Well, I proved them wrong. I graduated with a good grade and got a great job in my career of choice.  I have started the role and so far I am enjoying it. I hope to get involved with more amazing technologies and one day start a Tech company. Take this with you, If I can achieve it then you definitely can.

‘Take this with you, If I can achieve it then you definitely can.

To be a leader is to serve with purpose

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Paul Anomah, MSc Financial Technology student, talks through his Common Purpose, Global Leaders Experience

To have been selected  to participate in the UWE Common Purpose Global Citizenship and Inclusive Leadership Programmes was a great privilege and unique opportunity. Interacting with student leaders from various parts of the world broadened my perspectives and understanding of how others uniquely perceive situations, handle challenges, and view leadership.

My UWE Bristol Common Purpose Experience

Understanding the individual motivation of my peers for contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) during group discussions was really encouraging. I was able to see the devotion and service true leadership requires as well as the hunger of young people not unlike myself to create innovative, achievable, and efficient solutions to the SDGs in various fields

Global Goals, Local Roles

I have always been passionate about helping to eradicate water-borne diseases and maintain clean environments in my local community Wusuta, in the Volta region of Ghana, where I originate from. I believe we all have a responsibility in facilitating the success of the UN SDGs, one local community at a time. Playing my part in achieving SDG-6 (Clean Water and Sanitation for all) has been part of my daily life since I turned 18. It was simple, the reality for many around me was dirty and contaminated water and lack of knowledge regarding maintaining clean water sources and habits. I was determined to make a change and empower those I could, using the knowledge and passion I had.  

To achieve my goals, I have learned through the Common Purpose Leader experience, the importance of celebrating and engaging with diverse suggestions, understandings and perspectives regardless of identity or background. This skill encourages collective engagement in providing lasting solutions to problems. Changing preconceptions and raising awareness of unconscious biases eliminates discrimination and enables collaboration and better leadership.

I developed a 3-part strategy,  educating my community on ways to eradicate water-borne diseases, engaging the district assembly to uphold their campaign promises  and advocating for better infrastructure to enable safer, equal water access and usage. Having participated in the Global Leadership Programme, I am further enthused to attain a personal goal of ensuring at least 50% access to a piped water system in my local community by 2027 as well as a functioning recycling plant for plastic and other waste materials.  

Change is near

As an agent of generational and global change, there is a responsibility I owe to those that will come after me.. I learned throughout the Common Purpose experience the importance of creating an environment of peace, value, understanding and inclusivity. I have learnt further the value of building trust, confidence, and togetherness  to enable people to have their voices heard.

Inclusivity and the common goal to achieve equality

I have developed as a person, within the four days of engagement. I will carry forward  community inclusiveness and be courageous enough to engage with more people and with ‘uncomfortable’ discussions that can result in new, tailored, and unique resolutions for issues that affect many in their daily lives. 

The sense of achievement and skills developed

Having to work as a group to develop an approach to foster communal participation towards finding solutions to problems that exist in our everyday communities was very engaging and mind opening. I further expanded on my skills of active and critical listening, and mutual dialogue: great skills for a future leader. I also experienced the power of collaboration and the distinctive role it plays in confidently bringing out the ideas of others once they feel part of the process . As a future leader, I have also become further enlightened on how systematic bias can affect the contributions of people from minority backgrounds and the significance of preventing this in every space

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