When did you graduate and what did you graduate in?
I graduated with a first class honours degree in Business with Marketing in July 2014 from Ulster University.
How did you find out about the Professional Experience Programme and what is it?
The Professional Experience Programme is an internship programme alongside a postgraduate level qualification which matches graduates with employers through an interview process. I first heard about the programme during my placement year working for Ulster University in the Employability and Marketing department. I was working on this programme assisting students in securing an internship with the participating employers and as a result was able to get a good understanding of the programme from a graduate's perspective as well as an employer's perspective.
How did you secure your internship with Shredbank?
Philip Bain, Co-director of ShredBank is a visiting professor at Ulster University and was invited along to mentor and assess an entrepreneurship module in which I was enrolled. Through working with him on this module, he was able to identify the types of graduate skills he needed and he offered me the opportunity to apply for the position in ShredBank. I applied and had an interview with Philip and his business partner James Carson and was offered the job.
What type of work did you do at Shredbank? What professional skills did you develop?
I took up the role of Business Development Executive at ShredBank which involved mainly marketing and sales. I was able to attend many events and exhibitions, meeting new contacts and forming relationships both on a business level and developing my own personal career path. I learned the importance and developed the art of networking as well as how to use Google analytics and social media platforms most effectively. I increased my awareness of how to exploit gaps in the market and sell most efficiently. There are so many beneficial things I learned and am continuing to learn in my job role which I am adapting to other situations and developing as time goes on.
How did the Professional Experience Programme enable you to support Shredbank?
The Professional Experience Programme included a business quality improvement project which required me to delve into the quality of ShredBank's service and operations. This project helped me gain a better understanding of the business I was working in but also showed vital points to improve upon to improve the quality standards even more. At the time of writing up this project, Shredbank was working towards Investors in People Gold which I can proudly say we were awarded with, showing the excellent standard of quality and commitment to continuous quality ShredBank holds.
How did the Professional Experience Programme help your employability skills?
The University programme widened my knowledge of the business world in Northern Ireland by providing me with opportunities to evaluate my own skills which resulted in a clear path of how to improve them in terms of future employability. The internship gave me a platform from which to effectively and practically improve the way I approach my job on a daily basis and ultimately how I deal with situations in the working environment.
How do you think such internships can help graduates and employers?
I am so happy to say that I was offered a full-time position with ShredBank on the completion of my internship.
Internships are a fantastic stepping stone for graduates as it gives an insight into the type of work you will be doing in your future career path. This internship benefitted me as I was able to academically learn about the business environment as well as carry out on-the-job training. I believe it has given me a strong start in my career path and aided my employer by giving them the opportunity to evaluate my ability to carry out the job role before committing to a full-time position.