School of Computing

Testimonials from undergraduate students

Video testimonials from our students are available on the School of Computing YouTube channel

Edward East BSc Business Information Technology with a Year in Industry
Edward East
  • Course: BSc Business Information Technology with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2015-2019

Edward East

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

My initial reason for selecting the University of Kent was due to Business Information Technology being a course that was not widely offered. From those available, I then attended their open days to experience university life. Out of all the days I attended, Kent was the one that stood out above all else, as they made an emphasis on ensuring our initial experience of the university was positive and insightful.

What has your course been like?

My course has been a particularly unique experience. Being part of two different schools within the university allows me to interact with students that have completely different interests and mindsets. This has allowed me to adopt different work practices and also improve my social skills to accommodate individuals. Also, I feel the blend of business and computing into one degree has perfectly set me up for the technology industry.

What is the most interesting topic you have studied?

On the course, I thoroughly enjoyed learning Agile Software Development in Stage two, and Human-Computer Interaction in Stage one. Firstly, the skills that I learnt from Agile have been applied during my placement year. Not only this, but SAP (the company I did my year in industry with) use the methodology for all their project planning & delivery, so to be learning a module that is current was exciting. With HCI, my passion is in UX/UI, so to learn about the science of how interfaces are created around the psychology of human behaviour reinforced my passion and interest for this area of study.

Where did you spend your year in industry?

My placement was at SAP in West London. The office housed 45 interns, divided into different areas of the business. My department was called Digital Business Services, who are responsible for the delivery and implementation of SAP software. The specific software my team was responsible for is S/4HANA Public Cloud, which is SAP’s cloud based ERP software. My role more specifically focused on data analytics and the production of dashboards to visualise the information for the management teams. I then also created all digital content for my team such as videos for training and business updates, info graphics, apps and websites for proof of concepts and artwork for internal and external events.

What have you learnt while on placement?

Through my placement, I have become fond of a particular mind-set, which is to seek forgiveness rather than permission. If you have an idea and are able to build it into something tangible, people are far more willing to listen. In the context of myself, I focused a lot on my artwork and design and so it was easy to put an idea together and then to receive feedback. As a result, I created a lot more opportunities for myself due to my team understanding what my strengths were and pushed me to apply them to the wider business.

What was the best part of your placement?

The best thing about SAP is the opportunity they can provide to an intern. Firstly the program is split into 70/30, whereby 30% of your time can be working in other areas of the business, which SAP actively encourage. This is important because networking is crucial for success in the company. During presentations in my onboarding, I realised my skills could be utilised for presales, who are the creative and technical team that support a sales deals. As a result, I began working on projects with the presales team, and am now aiming towards a graduate role within their team.

Has it changed your approach to learning?

The internship hasn’t necessarily changed my approach to learning, but more my attitude. I have always been very self-driven, but the internship has made me much more focused on my work and my interests as a whole. Coming back to university, I want to focus a lot more on creating a community feel, where people actively want to work together and share ideas, particularly with the students who have been on placement.

What are your plans after you graduate?

My plan is to apply to the presales academy at SAP. The academy is a 6-month training programme held in California. A few candidates are chosen from each region for the programme, which involves networking, technical, creative and customer training. After the programme, I would then return to the presales team in the UK, hopefully working under SAP Leonardo, which is our portfolio of emerging technologies like IoT, AI, Machine Learning, where I would drive the importance of design for customers.

Kieren Kershaw BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Kieran Kershaw
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2015-2019

Keiran Kershaw

Why did you choose Kent?

Kent offered a course with a great reputation, a beautiful campus with lots of activities and a Computing placement department with an extremely high percentage of students on placements at top companies.

What has your course been like?

My course has definitely be a mixed bag across the three years (two of study and one of placement). Coming in with a background in Computing and Mathematics made the first year very manageable allowing me to take up lots of fun volunteering and sport activities in my spare time. The step up in workload for my second year was a wake-up call but just required more focus and commitment to achieve good results.

What have you enjoyed most?

Most of all I have enjoyed learning some of the less technical topics such as Human Computer Interaction which focuses on how we as people use software and how we can develop our applications to be more intuitive.

What is the most interesting topic you have studied?

By far the most interesting thing I’ve learned is the advanced concepts of algorithms and efficiency mainly in my second year. Problem solving is at the heart of computer science and getting the opportunity to understand better how complex tasks can be approached is fascinating to me.

Where did you spend your year in industry?

I spent my year at Accenture, one of the world’s largest technology consulting firms, mostly at their offices in central London.

What have you learnt while on placement?

My placement taught me a huge range of skills that I never expected to learn. Technical-wise I’ve become confident with computer networks, their design and operation. On the business side I’ve learned about contracts & pricing, how Accenture sells new work and financial regulations from working with huge global banking clients. Above all of this I’ve learned how to managed my time, work with a global team (which comes with challenges due to distance) and deliver a high-standard of work, often within very tight deadlines.

What was the best part of your placement?

The best part about my placement was the massive range of opportunities Accenture provides to do interesting things outside of work. For those that want to get involved they have loads of clubs and sports and they also host events at locations across London. There’s also employee-only dedicated events at all sorts of fancy locations. The most memorable of these was “Accenture Re:Think” at BAFTA where we got to hear inspiring talks from CEOs in technology startups, inspiring lecturers from UCL and also Channel 4 newscaster, Jon Snow. These are the sort of experiences you don’t get access to outside of a big company like Accenture and are a great perk of working there.

What was the hardest thing about being on placement?

The hardest part has been adjusting to working life. As a student you can mould you schedule somewhat around your other commitments and there’s a lot of socialising and downtime. Moving into the world of work brings a lot of changes like a fairly regimented 9-5 (ish) schedule and the pressure of working to deadlines where it’s not just your own coursework at stake. Living in a big city like London has also been tough at times as it can be a lot harder to meet people at first.

Has it changed your approach to learning?

I think being on placement has really shown me how I work best and proved that I can perform really well, even under pressure. Going into final year this will allow me to be more focused and driven now that I know I am able to operate at a much more intense level at times.

What are your plans after you graduate?

After graduation I’m looking to spend a couple of years in something linked to the charity sector as I’ve developed a real passion for this kind of work over my time at Kent. Following on from this I’d like to return to technology consulting which is the role I was in during my placement year.

Eleana Sklaveniti BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Eleana Sklaveniti
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2013-2017

Eleana Sklaveniti

Why did you choose Kent?

I am from Athens and first heard about Kent at a university fair; then I went to a presentation at the British Embassy. I didn’t want to be in London but loved the location of the campus with its safe surroundings, and loved the idea of the Year in Industry.

How was your course?

It was very good. We covered such a variety of things – it’s not all about programming – I studied marketing and economics too, for instance.

How did you enjoy your year in industry?

I worked at Motability Operations and very much enjoyed it. It was a change to work in the real world, and I think it helps you to see what you want in life. It was easy to adapt to the work and everyone was very supportive – help was always available but I ended up working on my own project.

What kind of career do you hope to follow when you graduate, and why?

I’m going back to Motability Operations. I got on very well with my manager there and asked if there was an opportunity to go back – and was offered a job. But I also like the idea of doing a Masters in a few years’ time.

What is the level of support like in your studies?

Very good. I needed more support in the first year and was always emailing lecturers, who replied quickly. Students in the second and third years helped too – and now I help first years.

What are the facilities like on campus?

When it comes to studying, you can always find somewhere quiet to work, that’s very good. And socially it’s excellent. The sports facilities are good too.

What is the accommodation on campus like?

I lived in Tyler Court for a year and found the facilities were very good. Living on campus, everything you need is on hand, and with Campus Watch, the onsite security department, you always feel safe.

Any advice for students coming to Kent?

Make the most if it! At first I missed my family, but there is so much going on here that soon it wasn’t a problem.

Jamie Howard BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Jamie Howard
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2013-2017

Jamie Howard

Why did you choose Kent?

I actually applied to study Maths and completed the first year but realised it wasn’t for me. It was very heavy on theory with no obvious real-world application. But Computer Science seemed like a good compromise: it had a lot of technical content, which I enjoyed, and with the year in industry you get to experience the real world and see theories being applied – that clinched it for me.

What was the level of support like in your studies?

It was excellent. I found lecturers to be very approachable and I often emailed for help and received prompt replies – even though I didn’t always send them in office hours. In the final year, you work on a group project rather than a dissertation, and have weekly meetings with your supervisor; but they are always available at other times too. I think none of the supervisors have more than a couple of projects each to look after, so they’re never swamped and are always able to help.

What was your project?

We built an Android app that tracks the buses on campus; you can upload your own timetable of activities and work out your journeys. I think it has potential for Kent students and it would be great to see it go live.

How was your year in industry?

It was good – and different to what I had expected. I was working with Accenture and had anticipated being given purely technical tasks, but in fact had a great diversity of roles – some involving things I’d never done before, including project management, which was very interesting and involved more ‘soft’ skills, such as dealing with people. It was quite a challenging year but I was always working alongside another team member so had good training. Projects I worked on with Accenture included six months with EDF Energy, which was hectic and intense, and two months with Discovery.

What kind of career do you hope to follow when you graduate, and why?

I haven't thought too much about specific industries I would like to go into. Most of my work at Accenture was with web development, which I really enjoyed. The app development I’m doing now is new to me so quite challenging, but enjoyable. I'm hoping that if I go back to Accenture I will be able to give both things a try in the real world.

What’s the accommodation on campus like?

It’s very good. I lived in Park Wood for my first year and shared a five-bedroom house with students of roughly the same age and interests. We became good friends and I went on to rent with them off campus.

What were the facilities like on campus?

For work, because the library was being renovated, I tended to stay within the School of Computing. But there’s lots of space there, everything is well-equipped and you can always find somewhere quiet when you need to concentrate. Socially there’s so much going on – more than enough, in fact! I wish I had more time to make use of it all.

What did you do in your spare time?

I worked at a computer shop in Canterbury that specialises in Apple products, and I played drums in several bands, including the University’s Big Band.

Any advice for students coming to Kent?

People always say make the most of it – and this is so true. It can seem daunting meeting so many new people and finding like-minded students, so I’d say definitely get involved in any societies that pique your interest.

Channing Gardner BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Channing Gardner
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2012-2016

Channing Gardner

What attracted you to Kent?

I visited Kent and liked the campus feel. I have always loved technology and I was interested to see what I could do with that, which led me to computer science. I went to a talk about the year in industry and all the opportunities Kent offers, so put Kent down as my first choice.

How were your studies and what did you find interesting?

I enjoyed lots of modules but my top ones were in web and databases. I liked the level of creativity they allowed and that you gained very marketable skills. Website design is a skill that i loved learning and is now proving very useful. Also, you can choice wild modules, so I took computer graphics and animation which was amazing. We learnt about the hardware and software aspects of computing, which allows you to put things into a context and helps you make sence of them. I got practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge. Also the facilities are really good. The Makerspace allows us to do literally anything - I've seen people building all sorts of things. We also have our own computer lab; the facilities are great - one of the bugeest selling points actually.

Were you able to persue your own interests?

Yes, absolutely. My main passion is the creative design side of things. I am interested in animation media and virtual reality and I was able to select modules in those areas.

What about your fellow students?

Everyone was cool. There is a lot of teamwork, which created a camaraderie among us and we helped each other.

Did your degree change you?

It gave me a new perspective on the way technology impacts the world around me. My degree gave me confidence and put me in a good place when looking at future careers - every business needs IT professionals. We were told there was no limit to what we could do and that has given me faith in my employability.

Did you enjoy your time at Kent?

They were some of the best years I've had. I loved the independence. I could work, learn and play in my own time. You are with people of your own age, but a really diverse set of people, and that is one of the best things about university.

What careers advice did you recieve?

Lots, including how to react on an assessment day, how to work with colleagues in a team and how to deal with different personalities such as introverts and extroverts. And we had mock scenarios which were really helpful.

In what way has your degree helped you find work?

I think my placement at Cisco has been a springboard for me. When I am asked in interviews about my experience I can talk about that. My time at Kent has helped me to that first step and i have now secured a graduate role at Microsoft.

What are your plans for the future?

Obviously, I want to see where I can go with Microsoft. Eventually, I would love to work in virtual reality and perhaps get involved with app development. Ultimately, my dream would be to start my own business

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Jump into everything, all the societies. Pick modules that you are passionate about. Hang out in the School of Computing and chat with people from other years because you can get some really great mentors who will help you with your studies.

Izzy Ellinor BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Izzy Ellinor
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2009-2013
  • Testimonial received: November 2012

Izzy Ellinor

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I enjoyed the science subjects at school and took IT, Maths and Physics at A level. I liked the idea of computer science or IT because it integrates lots of science. I also knew that computer science opens a lot of doors; there are a huge range of careers that you can follow. I wasn’t sure which career path I wanted so I chose this degree because it doesn’t limit me and gives me lots of skills and options. I liked Kent because the staff were really open to people who hadn’t done computer science or programing before. The Open Days and UCAS Visit Days were interactive and the lecturers were genuinely interested in teaching.

Where did you spend your year in industry?

I knew straight away that I wanted to do the Year in Industry; I wanted to get a taste of having a job. In lots of universities placements are optional, here there is a lot of emphasis on its importance and it is really pushed. I worked at the pharmaceutical company GSK. I was nervous because it was a last minute arrangement; I had originally been accepted at Pfizer which had a base near my home in Kent. After Pfizer downscaled its operations I was offered a place at GSK in London but everything worked out really well.

What did you learn in that time?

My manager was excellent and gave me the chance to do lots of things outside my role to develop my skills. This included developing a website for my team and finding solutions to improve service levels with a team in India. I learned that I can be more confident and capable than I could imagine. I had only been in education before but now I know that I can manage people and deliver projects. I also discovered that my strengths are working in a team, with customers and meeting new people; I’m quite a people person but love learning about new technologies so I’d like to integrate this into my future career.

Has it changed your approach to learning in your final year?

My Year in Industry has changed my outlook. In my first and second years at university I tended to learn off by heart for exams, and I didn’t always understand why I was learning it. This year I’m more enthused about learning the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’. I find it easier to make a 9am lecture and stay on campus all day. That work ethic makes my final year much more manageable.

What are your plans after you graduate?

I have been accepted on the GSK graduate scheme which means that I have nine-month work rotations for three years to see what kind of job I really want. It’s likely to involve lots of travel around the UK and overseas.

Anything else you'd like to say about your course, Kent or your placement?

I feel like I am a different person now. If I was in my final year with no placement experience, I wouldn’t know what to do next. I’m really happy that I have a job for next year and a career path to follow, it’s such a relief to be able to focus on my work and not worry about job hunting.

Neil Mendum BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Neil Mendum
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2009-2013
  • Testimonial received: November 2012

Neil Mendum

Why did you choose to study at Kent?

I actually came through clearing. I had visited the campus and knew about the course, but it was a very stressful 12 hours, from getting my results to knowing I had a place at university. It has been a really good decision. Lots of opportunities have come up that I couldn't have envisaged. I wouldn't call it fate, but I'm really glad that it worked out this way. I knew from the start that I wanted to do a Year in Industry; my brother had struggled to find employment after graduating so I wanted to improve my employability.

What has your course been like?

The course is really varied and the staff in the School of Computing are good. Since I've had my Year in Industry I'm enjoying my course a lot more and taking it more seriously. I know that it is really important for me to get good grades to get the jobs I want afterwards; the grade goes at the top of your CV!

Where did you spend your year in industry?

I had a placement in HSBC in Hong Kong in the production support team. It was the most fun I have ever had. I had a boss whose aim was to make me 'the most employable intern we've ever had' which mean that I didn't just have to do basic admin tasks but I got an overview of business, finance and technology and was given a free reign to set new things up. The team were really approachable and there were a lot of people intrigued to see a 21 year old English person in the office, most people were either from Hong Kong, or were much older. I also had a 'buddy' who was my first point of contact for anything that I wanted to know about the bank who became a good friend.

What did you learn in that time?

I am now more resilient and self-sufficient. At the time you don't think about it but I had the drive to go to Hong Kong, work, makes friends and make a life for myself. Now I feel I can do that anywhere in the world. I'm much more confident in my abilities.

Has it changed your approach to learning in your final year?

I have more of a routine now. I get up early to start work even when I don't have lectures, because I got used to starting work at 8.30 every morning. In fact I didn't like it when I took annual leave because I got out of that routine and felt that I missed out on things at work.

What did you enjoy the most?

I can't think of anything negative and I wouldn't trade what I did for any other job. I had to arrange the flights and accommodation myself online, but it all worked out ok. I shared with two housemates and we only worked 10 minutes from an area with lots of clubs and bars so we'd go out a lot with people from work. It's really cheap to eat out in Hong Kong, so we'd go out to eat every single night. I also got a chance to visit China and Japan and my friends and family came out so I got to show them Hong Kong too.

What are your plans after you graduate?

I want to continue to work in banking; it excited and interests me. I enjoy knowing that I can make things better and improve things. IT support in banking is crucial, especially when you are working in areas such as millisecond banking. I'd like to work in London for a while as I missed it when I was away and I feel like I know Hong Kong better than my home city. The Year in Industry has shown that I can apply myself and that should help with my employability. It can be hard to quantify what you do in university.

Anything else you'd like to say about your course, Kent or your placement?

The placement team is amazing; they gave lots of support, phoned twice and came to visit once. It made the whole experience easier, knowing I could come to them if there was a problem and that they were there as a back up. They also helped me get the placement in the first place as they had a say in who went, so I'm really thankful to them.

Preeya ParmerBSc Business Information Technology with a Year in Industry
Preeeya Parmar
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2009-2013
  • Testimonial received: November 2012

Preeya Parma

I chose my course at Kent because of family recommendations; both my cousins and uncle had studied here and I knew that the degrees were valued. I also liked the idea of being close to home in London. I used to go home about once a month, but now I’m in my final year there’s not enough time! I also liked the accommodation at Liberty Quay which is close by and has its own shop and takeaways!

Medway is a smaller campus than Canterbury, everything feels very close knit and you get to know people quite quickly and it’s easy to find out what’s going on. I found it easy to get involved in volunteering and set up a new society, the Hindu Society, on campus. I won four awards including the best new society and the Kent volunteering gold award. I also won an employability award with the prize of leadership training with the accountancy firm PKF

I’ve always wanted to work in business and I chose this degree because of the connections the placement team has with leading companies. I’ve always loved science and have quite a logical brain which is why I like IT; it is quite concrete. As I will be working in business I wanted to understand how it works so the Business Information Technology course was perfect.

The placement team was very helpful with advice and feedback on CV writing and finding a placement; they’re very truthful! I worked during my Year in Industry for pharmaceutical company GSK at its UK headquarters. It was a great placement and I was determined to do my very best, have no regrets at the end of the year and make the most of every opportunity.

I project managed the migration of one internal website with 500 users to another, which involved a lot of research and organisation and also introduced me to risk analysis which I love!

I also took part in an international GSK competition, similar to Dragon’s Den, where you had to pitch an IT idea that could make things better. I worked on a pitch for gesture technology in the science labs that would save time and reduce contamination risks. Out of 90 submissions, we made it to the final and were promised £25,000 and the support of two mentors. It feels such an accomplishment that my idea is now being built as a prototype.

I have come back to university more determined and more organised. I’m more aware of myself, what I’m good at and how people perceive me. I am also determined to get a 2:1 to get into the GSK graduate scheme.

Feedback from GSK was that I needed to improve my leadership skills so I am chairing the KITC this year. The KITC is brilliant particularly for people who don’t have much work experience already but the people who have done a Year in Industry stand out because of their confidence; they are more willing to do new things and don’t think twice about giving a presentation to a client.

Zach Antonas BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Zach Antonas
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2009-2013
  • Testimonial received: November 2012

Zach Antonas

I chose to study at Kent because I really liked the atmosphere when I visited the campus, it seemed quite relaxed and the lecturers were approachable. I also liked the prospects for the Year in Industry. The partnerships that the School of Computing has in industry were unmatched. I knew that when I was looking for jobs in the future, any work experience that I had would be crucial, so for me the Year in Industry was the most important part of the degree.

I first gained an industrial placement at the end of my first year when I was accepted onto a three month long IBM programme. I worked on the 'Customer Information Control System', which is used by banks for transactions. I built a test tool to test new features and it was a shame to leave after only three months as I felt I was only getting started.

My placement with IBM made me even more determined to get a good Year in Industry placement, which I did! I worked for Cisco in California in the IT department's storage team as a design engineer. I had to learn fast and have good interpersonal skills with vendors and customers as well as being able to find logical solutions to problems. I also had to evaluate new technologies.

I got involved in other projects too. Along with fellow Kent student Phil Styles, I gave a 2 hour presentation to my Vice President and his direct staff about the use and recommendation of a particular piece of software, which Cisco are now using. I submitted an idea alongside a colleague to an IT global ideas competition and won an award. I was given a cash prize and resources to get the idea off the ground. I am still involved in it and am working part-time for Cisco with my team in California during my final year.

Working in Silicon Valley really is the best place to be for a Computer Science student. There is a risk-taking atmosphere and you feel that by having enough enthusiasm you can achieve anything. In the UK we tend to ask for permission more. In the US the attitude is 'don't ask, just go ahead and we'll tell you if you're doing something wrong'. It's ok to make mistakes, as long as you only do the same mistake once. We got the chance to work at Cisco thanks to a Kent alumnus, Tony West, who is a Vice President and has set up the international Year in Industry programme for Cisco in collaboration with a few British universities..

There were four of us from Kent at Cisco and as well as working hard we got a chance to explore the USA. We visited New York over Christmas and went to Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. There is so much to do; hiking, skiing, mountain climbing; you could do something new everyday if you wanted.

My final year now seems easier than my second year of my course. Before I would leave everything to the last minute and put off tasks that I didn't know how to do. In Cisco when a task is given to you, you do it straight away.

I touched technologies I didn't know existed and learnt things I never even knew about. If a new task I've never tackled before is given to me I'm confident that I will be able to work it out.

I've learnt not to make plans too far ahead and I'm happy to go wherever work takes me. I originally thought I'd like to go into databasing, then I wanted to go into programming, but at Cisco I really enjoyed the design and managerial aspects too. I'm not that hard to please, I like anything that comes with IT!

I've also learnt that you can't be the kind of person to say 'I only want to do this one thing'; it won't make you a good programmer if you only know about programing. I want to continue learning in an enterprise company.

I think the Computer Science course is very well structured and the modules are interesting and relevant. I came in not knowing anything about programming and have been taught functional programming and can do a good job. I also like the atmosphere on campus, I've always been able to ask lecturers about any thing that I haven't been sure of, I'm not sure that you'd get that level of support in some of the red brick universities.

Robert Day BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Robert Day
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2009-2013
  • Testimonial received: November 2012

Robert Day

As soon as I came to the Open Day I felt at home here at the University of Kent. I visited other universities but the Year in Industry was the main reason for making Kent my first choice. I didn't have any work experience and knew that you needed some as a graduate and the Year in Industry seemed like a good way of doing that. The Year in Industry programme was well promoted during the Open Day at Kent. It seemed to be an important aspect (because of the dedicated placement team) whereas it seemed like it was simply 'tacked' on to the courses at other Universities. The support that would be given and knowing about the companies other students had been to in the past was a major factor in my decision.

The course has given me experience of lots of things; theory, group work as well as programing and interesting modules such as 'human computer interaction'. In Hong Kong, where I did my placement, the computer science courses are maths based; ours is much broader than that.

I did my work placement with HSBC in Hong Kong. I worked in a team that supported the communication of messages between customers and the bank, using a piece of software that is used by the majority of investment banks. My team were all incredibly clever and made me feel like I belonged as soon as I started.

I got the placement last minute after someone else dropped out so I had to rely on another student from the course who was already out in Hong Kong to help find accommodation for us both. The placement team gave me the opportunity to go and I owe so much to them. I would recommend a work placement to anyone. I understand that some people don't want to but you don't have to go as far as I did, you can go to a local company that employs five people. Just working for other people gives you experience that you'll never get from studying. Also the application of the skills gained at University will go a long way to shaping you as a final year student and a graduate looking for work (it makes you stand out from the crowd of those who don't have work experience).

I enjoy university life and the independence of living by myself rather than living with my parents, that's one of the reasons I went to Hong Kong. There wasn't one bad thing about the experience although Christmas away from home was tough. I know not many people get that kind of an opportunity so I made the most of it.

In my first and second years on the course felt like I was coasting. Now I know that I need to spend more time reading and studying. The placement really has changed my viewpoint and now I'm aiming to get a first.

I'm looking at jobs in the USA when I graduate. I thought it was a big risk before, but now I know that I am capable of doing it. The Year in Industry boosted my self-confidence and now I've got the bug to do better things.

Paul WozniakBSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
Paul Wozniak
  • Course: BSc Computer Science with a Year in Industry
  • Years: 2009-2013
  • Testimonial received: November 2012

Paul Wozniak

I have always been interested in Computer Science and when I looked at the course offered by the University of Kent it was the intuitive choice. The course was just what I wanted to study and the campus is beautiful; it just made sense.

There have been a good variety of modules on the course with a mixture of the practical and theoretical. On my placement I learned that you need to have an array of skills and the balance of what I learned in the first two years helped. The group work is also a good idea, especially the way that everyone is mixed up. In a work environment you have to work with a wide variety of people so its like training your communication muscles.

On my placement year I worked as an IT engineer in Cisco in California where I coded and produced programs. It was a huge cross-functional role and involved lots of collaboration with other teams. I also had the opportunity to be a site lead for 20 interns on the summer programme, which gave me a chance to try my hand at people and project management.

Collaboration is the key element of Cisco. There are no offices with closed doors as such so you can easily bounce an idea off anyone who is around and that includes the Vice Presidents. It is a very liberating culture. I didn’t feel restricted at all; if I had an idea, I was encouraged to go ahead and try it, provided I met all my other commitments too. We were told not to ask for permission to do things but to ask for forgiveness afterwards, it’s part of the US working culture

There are very exciting things happening at Cisco and Tony [West – Vice President] has stayed in touch by email and there are some projects that he has asked me to get involved with so I still feel connected.

I love travelling; seeing and experiencing new things and places. During the year in California we [fellow placement students] went to New York, LA, San Diego and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe. My girlfriend came to visit twice and we visited Mexico where we had a chance to take a quad bike into the mountains to remote hot springs; it was so cool.

Coming back to university for the final year is like a different world! I thought I had good habits and knew what deadlines were in my first two years, but now I really understand! In a work situation there is no one setting minor deadlines so time management is hugely different. I’m now good at planning things as soon as they are set and each day or week I progress part of that project. I feel much more relaxed and in control.

I’m going for a first in my degree and I won’t settle for anything less! I’m applying to Stanford to do an MBA but I’d like to get more experience in Cisco first.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend a Year in Industry. It’s like a trial run at real life; you get a chance to find out what you want to do in the future. Computer science is a really broad subject and the placement gives you a chance to explore what is beyond the first stage of your career. And you get paid!

School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

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Last Updated: 02/08/2018