Our alumni – Ben Hunt, Graduate Engineer at WMG
We caught up with Ben Hun who graduated from the MEng Materials Science & Engineering (with Foundation Year) in 2019 and is now working as a Graduate Engineer at WMG, an innovative academic science and engineering department at The University of Warwick.
Hi Ben, thanks for joining us on the Materials Blog! Congratulations on securing your role with WMG, did you expect to be in the job when you graduated from Manchester?
Only in the sense that I had received the job offer a month before my final exams! Before this, however, I had no idea what direction I was going in.
I ended up taking the 4th-year MEng in Manchester after spending a lot of time applying for jobs during my 3rd year and getting no result. At this point, I had no interest in undertaking any further academic research and I couldn’t wait to get into an industry role. While completing my dissertation, however, I realised I quite enjoyed the nature of research projects! I think this stemmed from the idea that I was completing ‘my-own’ project and the responsibility definitely gave me a drive.
The job opportunity for the graduate scheme I’m currently on was hidden away on Careerslink and wasn’t published on the usual career apps and websites. I came across this as a last–minute search that was initiated by a career’s team member from the Careers Service at Manchester.
What did you do (if anything) at University to explore your career options? Did you get involved in any activities which were unrelated to your degree?
While I was at University, I took advantage of all the careers service events: Mock interviews, CV advice, LinkedIn 101 session, Manchester Gold Mentoring and The Manchester Network. I found that communicating with professionals at these events and building up my LinkedIn presence helped me become aware of the various opportunities available. Their career stories also provided me with reassurance.
Most of the time, professionals are very happy to answer questions, especially if they work at a company you have an interview for (top tip!).
Have you stayed in one sector/job role or moved around? Are there any benefits or drawbacks you have perceived to this approach?
Currently, I’m in the final year of my graduate scheme though I hope to stay and move to a permanent position for a couple of years.
I really enjoy what I do and, as I work across projects, I feel like I get various challenges. It seems that in engineering, there are always new problems to solve!
Personally, I don’t see any drawbacks to this approach. I definitely haven’t decided on what I want to do in my career and getting professional experience is much easier when you are in any professional role. So far, I am just making the most of learning on the Graduate scheme and will see where that takes me! Organisations are a lot more interdisciplinary than you think and you’d be surprised by where you can end up with your degree.
What challenges, obstacles or setbacks have you faced so far in your career?
I haven’t, as of yet, really had any. I know my first few months were quite overwhelming and I didn’t quite know what supervisors expected of me, but just like after the first months of uni, you soon get into the swing of it!
If you could go back in time what advice would you give yourself as a UoM student regarding your career?
- Not to panic too much about things. I feel like you get very disheartened when applying for jobs and the process (online tests, psychometric tests, pre-recorded interviews, assessment days, final interviews…) but I found I did much better once you were there on the interview day. I followed all the tips and tricks the career’s team offered to support your mindset on the day. From the two face-to-face interviews I had, I got an offer! Which is a tiny fraction of all the application forms I filled out.
- Try everything and don’t assume. I originally wanted to do chemical engineering, but after failing to get onto the course following my foundation year, I ended up on a Materials Science BSc. Then I applied for the MEng when I didn’t know where to go, which ultimately lead me to the job I’m in now.
- Begin careers searching early on and learn from mistakes. I know from my job applications in my 3rd year compared to my 4th year, there was a marked improvement. The rejection I experienced had initially given me the chance to reflect and build a better approach.