A year in industry with Laetitia Yitaben
Student experience 4th August 2022
We spoke to recent graduate Laetitia Yitaben about her year in industry which she took as part of her Mathematics with Placement Year degree.
Hi Laetitia, thank you for joining us on the Maths blog! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi there! I am from Dudley in the West Midlands and moved to Manchester to study Mathematics with a Placement Year.
During my placement year I worked in two companies, one as a Technology Consultant (Accenture) and the other in asset management as a Portfolio Analytics Group (PAG) Analyst (BlackRock).
Why did you choose to study Mathematics at Manchester, and what made you decide to complete a year in industry?
It was actually a last-minute decision; I originally applied to study Chemical Engineering. I decided to switch to Mathematics because it has always been my favourite subject and I was unsure what I wanted to do after university.
I chose Manchester because I wanted to experience living in a lively and cost-efficient city that isn’t too far or close to home. This made Manchester the ideal choice out of Birmingham, Manchester and London, which were the areas that I was considering at the time.
Did you utilise the careers service at Manchester when looking for a placement?
I used the careers service in the lead up to applying for placements in my first year. After that, I had received enough feedback to apply for placements with little support. I applied for insight programmes in my first year, so I had a rough idea of which companies offered placements. I used Bright Network to find further placement opportunities.
The careers service helped me a lot in improving my CVs and cover letters and offers mock assessment centres that are great practice for case study interviews.
What did you most enjoy about the experience?
I enjoyed developing my technical skills further, especially as the roles that I worked in and training I completed were very different to one another.
Overall, I learned about various topics including:
- cloud computing
- testing capacity management
- java coding
- process mining
- test data engineering
- data visualisation
- natural language processing.
This gave me a great insight into the vast range of careers that are available in the technology industry.
Working at two companies and in different industries helped me narrow down my career preferences because the business context of the same role made quite a big difference to the tasks involved for some roles which both companies have.
What do you think you learnt most during your time in the real working world?
Working from home blurs the line between working and your personal life a lot which easily results in overworking. At Accenture, I was given a lot of flexibility on how to structure my day. For example, I could take my break whenever it suited me. Initially, I ended up taking short/no real breaks as I would check and act on notifications and reschedule my breaks accordingly. Consequently, I was less efficient and ended up working longer hours all together.
My work-life balance improved significantly once I scheduled breaks into my day and stayed away from my work devices during the break. I also learned/came to realise that it is not realistic to be productive for an entire eight-hour working day because at the office it would be natural to socialise with colleagues throughout the day.
Do you have any advice for students who are currently looking for that ideal placement?
Apply early and to roles based on whether the skills required match your interests/aspirations. In the financial services industry final round interviews commence as early as mid-October. Therefore, submitting some applications before the start of semester one makes juggling applications and studies easier (and sometimes increases your chances of progressing to later stages).
On the second point, I knew that I wanted to develop my coding skills but was unsure of what sort of role I was interested in. I ended up picking PAG at BlackRock solely based on the skills required for the role, as I don’t have much technical experience. This made expressing my motivation for the role easier as I genuinely had an interest in it and wanted to learn.
One final tip would be to tailor any work experience on your CV to the requirements in the job description.
Thanks Laetitia, and best of luck for the future!
Laetitia is a Mathematics and Placement Year graduate from the Department of Mathematics.