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It’s back to college for degree apprentice stars

Monday 4 February 2019

 

On Wednesday 30 January, four former students of the college returned to WestKing to share their experiences and the secrets of their success with our current students.

Andrico Zacharia, Sofija Venckute, Maxine Sowden and Isaac Nketiah all studied at the college’s King’s Cross campus last year and, after successfully completing their studies with us, have moved on to work for blue-chip companies in London. Each of them talked about their exciting jobs and dispelled a few myths about the world of work, to the roomful of students.

From Computing at college to a global bank

Andrico now works at the leading global financial firm Goldman Sachs, having landed a place on their prestigious technology degree apprenticeship scheme. What makes Andrico’s success all the more impressive is that he came to the UK from South Africa in 2016 with no qualifications. Despite this, he worked hard, and his tutors saw his potential and supported him every step of the way through his BTEC Level 3 course in Computing and the demanding application process for the Goldman Sachs programme.

At Goldman Sachs, Andrico currently works as a software engineer, supporting the Commodity Trading and Sales Desk where he writes code that supports the London based traders in their daily activities. The bank deals in a range of commodities including: oil and gas, precious metals (eg: gold, silver, platinum and copper), and agricultural commodities, like corn, soybeans, wheat and rice. Andrico and his team work on maintaining and developing new systems that enable the traders to deal more efficiently, as well as always looking to improve existing systems.

 

Isaac Nketiah graduated from studying law and politics at WestKing to his role as Client Manager at BMO Global Asset Management – a Canadian bank, asset management and wealth management firm.  Isaac works with big clients – usually other financial institutions like pension companies – to meet their needs and win new business for his firm. He is also looking to study for his investment management certificate; this is a key qualification for anyone wanting to have a career in the investment management industry.

You don’t have to be a maths genius!

Isaac also explained that many people think you need to be an expert in maths or have gone to a top university to work in financial services and investment management, but this isn’t the case. Financial services firms are keen to recruit young people from all walks of life, including school leavers, and Isaac emphasised that like him, anyone from any background can get into the industry.

 

BTEC to BT

Lithuanian-born Sofija took a BTEC level 3 in Business and, with support from WestKing’s careers and employability team, secured a place on the Degree Apprenticeship programme at BT, the global telecommunications, TV, mobile and broadband provider. Doing a Degree Apprenticeship means that she works four days each week at BT and studies for her degree (a 4-year Business Management degree from the University of Kent) on the fifth day.  Sofija gets a lot of support from BT and will rotate through different departments, so she gets a good understanding of the whole business.

Sofija says: “It’s stressful applying for a job or an apprenticeship and I don’t think I would have got the role without the college’s support. I got advice on structuring my CV, writing letters and preparing for interviews, but a lot of moral support too – that was really helpful. The staff were great and encouraged us students to support each other.”

 

Maxine Sowden is studying a Degree Apprenticeship in Quantity Surveying at WYG Group, a professional services firm that specializes in management consulting, project management and technical services. She came to Westminster Kingsway to study for intensive A levels, but like many young people, she wasn’t completely certain what she wanted to do after college and university didn’t appeal to her.  So when she heard about Degree Apprenticeships, thought that this might be the ideal career path for her and she hasn’t looked back since.

What is a Quantity Surveyor?

Quantity Surveyors manage and oversee construction projects. The work is varied and qualified quantity surveyors have to handle a number of different elements of construction projects, including: working out the quantities and costs of materials, time and labour; negotiating contracts; advising on legal matters; and monitoring sub-contractors to make sure their work is on-time and to the right standard.

 

Our alumni’s five top tips for success

All four alumni took the time after their presentations to answer questions from the floor and stayed behind after the session to have more detailed 1-1 discussions with students.  They all had some great advice, including:

  1. Get advice! Talk to teachers and careers advisors (like the team at Westminster Kingsway College) – they can really help you navigate your way through all your options;
  2. Be organised. Whether you are revising for exams or applying for apprenticeships and jobs, you need to know what you need to do and when. Get it wrong and it looks really bad, so organise yourself. Make lists and set yourself reminders on a calendar for things like application deadlines, interview dates, etc;
  3. Persevere! Don’t give up too easily. For example, if you’ve applied for a job and not heard anything, chase the company up. Maxine did that and that’s how she landed her job at WYG Group!
  4. Don’t put all your career eggs in one basket. If you pin all your hopes and dreams on just one job with one company, and you don’t get it… what will you do then? You need a plan B to fall back on if you aren’t successful with your first choice;
  5. Practice! You can’t be good at anything if you haven’t practiced it. That goes for job interviews and giving presentations, just as it does for playing a sport.  If you want to excel, you need to practice.

 

Our four alumni all enjoyed their time at Westminster Kingsway and, thanks to their dedication and the support that they got from our staff, the future looks bright for them.  You could transform your career prospects with us too! Find out more about our courses here: https://www.westking.ac.uk/visitor/16-18/

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