Graduate stories

Discussion in 'Railway Jobs & Careers' started by RJ, 10 May 2015.

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  1. RJ

    RJ Established Member

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    I'm nearing completion of my time at university, in a few weeks it'll finally be time to commit fully to the real world. University is great fun, but it's like a bubble that's far removed from reality. With a year taken out for a superb year in industry placement, four years is about enough now. Job applications and assessment centres have taken a fair amount of effort throughout final year - it's a competitive world out there. I don't regret working throughout my studies, even if having multiple jobs and being self employed whilst studying full time is a bit of a juggling act. It has taught me a lot about recruitment processes, time management and taxes.

    So over to you. Opinions on whether or not a degree helped with finding a job immediately after university, building a career and being promoted - or even if it was at all relevant to your work life would be much appreciated :)
     
  2. l0c0m0t1ve

    l0c0m0t1ve Member

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    Hard to say from personal experience as I have taken a break from university after completing my first year.

    My friends have completed University and it's been mixed really. One of them has a degree in computer science and after Uni he actually got a job at his local council which was hardly anything to do with what he had done. After that he had an amazing opportunity with Citibank and moved to New York for a year - sadly he was not offered the position full time in the end. He then moved on to working for Gumtree for a couple of years before recently moving to Autotrader.

    Another friend of mine has a degree in psychology. He is currently working in security. He is now thinking about going into teaching.

    I guess it depends really.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Oh and by the way, hope you enjoy Tobago! :D
     
  3. sarahj

    sarahj Established Member

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    I depends a lot on your degree, your result, your university and even how much you are prepared to sacrifice to follow your career.
    I left an average uni with a 2.2 in European Studies. (a mixture of politics, history and languages).
    After moving 280 miles and a few non jobs to pay the bills, I got a job in an office what required a degree. The job had nothing to do with my degree, it just required one. After 2 years I found I disliked the job, disliked the commute and the money was so so. So I quit. I ended up working in a hotel, and became quite senior. But the hours and the money made me move on after 4 years, and I went to work on the railway. At my interview I was told with my qualifications and experience I should move into management and the deal was to be a conductor for two years, then move on. I soon found out that railway co's go through restructuring every few years and also after franchise changes and management jobs were not very secure, and thus I'm still a conductor. And I'm not the only one here with the the same qualifications.

    As a note, I took the degree when I was advised during a interview for EPS (european passenger services) that I needed one for the job on offer.

    To use my degree for what I took, apart from going into teaching, i found out that I would need to be an intern for a political party, poss as a researcher, and then move on. But i would be competing with folks with way better degrees from way better uni's, good connections,and way better financial backing. I was also 29 at this point, and needed start making some money.

    I did apply for Railtrack grad schemes and got rejected. (did get a penknife), also looked at applying for Inland Revenue. Perhaps you need to find a good graduate fair, the one I went to near the Angel was quite good. It may take time, but think hard about what you want to do. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: 10 May 2015
  4. pdbaggett

    pdbaggett Member

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    unequivocally no, not even in the slightest. Finished from a decent university 5 years ago with a 2:1 in psychology and counselling. no work in it at all other than teaching and thats hard enough to get onto. decided a couple of years after i finished to try and enter into an engineering career so whilst working full time in a crappy bakery doing 5am - 1pm shifts i paid for my self to go to night school to get a diploma in process engineering as every one told me to get an engineering qualifcation as that will lead to a good career (same as i was told about uni and psychology funnily enough) any way finished my diploma and still had no interest in even entry level positions for roles.

    long story short i applied to work as a signaller and went through the process and managed to finally get a well paying, good job out of it, if i hadnt got that role i would still be working as a baker i would presume.

    Any way in my case it really didnt help, same situation for the majority of my friends i beleieve i have one or two who went on to do something with their degrees one slightly related and one in the field he studied for but he had to go onto a master degree and its still less than i get paid for my railway job.

    Not that im bitter or anything i had a great time in college and university but it took a long time to realise companies tend not to view degrees to well these days unless its specificly needed such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and other more vocational qualifications. If i had to do it again i would have just left school and went onto an apprentiship most of my friends who went that route earn very very good money now.
     
  5. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    I could have followed the same path as RJ, doing the same degree in the same location. However, I was a truly miserable excuse for a student and having blown my loan on rail rovers, intentionally failed my exams and stopped going to lectures while living on Carlsberg Export which was cheaper than squash in the union and dominoes pizza, I dropped out after the first year. Considering the recession etc at the time I was lucky enough to walk into a job, then moved elsewhere, got promoted to management, hated it, and dropped back again.

    I then got a job on the railway dispatching trains and never looked back. A quick promotion to guard followed and last year I earned about 35 grand. I've never looked back and wish I hadn't wasted a year but on the other hand it did give me the motivation to succeed in the world of work as I hated education so much.
     
  6. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    Am popping out just now so wanted this to flag up on my subscribed threads because I would like to share my experiences which I think may be useful or of interest. Hope this is OK with the mods.
     
  7. Simon11

    Simon11 Member Jobs & Careers Assistant

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    I went to an average university and achieved a 1st. The course is quite relevant to my career, however what set me apart was doing a year work placement in the rail industry with a TOC.

    In my final year at university, I applied for many graduate schemes, but in the end I managed to get a regular job with a TOC. The key reason for getting this job was because of the work placement.

    Since then, I have worked for several different TOC's and feel that the decision not to go on to a graduate scheme was the right choice for me. With a graduate scheme, you could spend 2-3 years learning on the job before getting into a junior management role with the same company. By going down my path, I have much more experience, more network contacts and now proud to be working on creating, managing & delivering industry leading initiatives- despite only being mid 20's.

    One big tip is to join Linkedin and keep this regularly updated. Try to grow your contacts, as it certainly does pay off. I got my current job through Linkedin and regularly have contacts approaching me with jobs they are looking to fill.

    Always keen to support younger people looking to get into the industry, so any questions feel free to give me a shout.
     
  8. Temple Meads

    Temple Meads Established Member

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    You can use the 'subscribe to thread' option in the thread tools area, not sure if this works on the phone layouts though.
     

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  9. dakta

    dakta Member

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    A bit of a story really - went to uni, dropped out(bad experience) years ago doing an IT management for business degree, up to that point I was your de facto IT guy.

    Turned my back on most of it, worked for my dad as a drain pipeline surveyor for a few years till the recession hit and finished that off, took a part time job as a cleaner, and just as I'd about saved up for enough gear to become a self employed tuner (basically remapping cars), I got offered to run the tuning department for another company which was rising fast.

    Took the offer, had a fun year (we did really well as a company)but despite loving the work the opportunity turned out to be a bit of a red herring, so left to become self employed like I originally intended.

    Throughout all of this I've been applying to get into the railways, but never successful.

    I have a lot of free time as a self employed tuner - I only have to do a few afternoon jobs to break my old weekly wage so I've signed up with open university and working towards a degree in engineering.

    I just need to be busy :(

    I don't know where I'm going to end up in this world, the only thing I've ever been sure about is that I want to work on the railways.

    Now to answer your question, I don't think for a minute the degree in engineering when I get it is going to help me one bit (I want to work for a TOC rather than NR).

    But, I can't guarantee anything in life, and I'd rather have it than be without it.

    I'm sorry if this doesn't sound encouraging, I just think a degree is about proving you can put yourself up to a challenge, and I don't think its a deal maker as such in this area.

    Maybe we should have more rail oriented degrees :P
     
    Last edited: 10 May 2015
  10. Nym

    Nym Established Member

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    So hang on, am I the only one so far who uses his degree at work, even if it isn't in exactly what I'm doing.
     
  11. Eng274

    Eng274 Member

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    I studied mechanical engineering and got a job with a TOC straight after my degree, most of my colleagues at uni ended up with relevant jobs after graduating more or less straight away as well. Engineering is undoubtedly the place to be right now, regardless of your flavour - plenty for mechanical, electrical, even civil if you're that way inclined.
     
  12. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    I have a general engineering degree with final year specification in electronics and software, but it's 20 years since I used anything that I learned in it. For most skills, even most in engineering in my view, the degree helps get a first job but after that performance in previous jobs is more important. In engineering however a degree (these days a masters') is moreorless essential for chartered status, lack of which can be a constraint in a later career.

    My employer is very short of good engineers to work on rail and other projects - interest and general ability is far more important than details of degree studied, and apprenticeships are also possible for non-graduates.
     
  13. dakta

    dakta Member

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    At risk of going slightly O/T I have been told by my tutors and other sources that the UK is likely to find itself deficient of engineers in the near future.

    It would be interesting to see if this happens to be the case (at the time I put it down as a bit of a feel-good spiel lol)
     
  14. Eng274

    Eng274 Member

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    There is predicted to be a massive skills and expertise shortage when the baby-boom generation of engineers start to retire, with not enough incumbents to take up the shortfall. Hence the government's drive to increase the number of apprenticeships, so that when they are time-served they can fill the gap of the younger generations who will replace the soon-to-be-retired. Luckily engineering degree courses are seeing higher demand in recent years, but there needs to be (IMO) more practical skills taught so that fresh graduates can use a torque wrench and hand file a flat edge, as well as draw the pretty pictures in SolidWorks.
     
  15. richw

    richw Established Member

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    I used to do some of the recruitment for a fast food establishment I was a manager at, and it always surprised me how many graduates I interviewed and took on who couldn't get jobs after graduating.
    I would say 50% of them had no life skills or real world skills which I imagine was holding them back. I rejected a majority of graduate applications for these reasons being clear at an interview.
    It's all well and good graduating, but personal skills come into successfully finding a job. I suspect you will be ok on that element though RJ from my judgement of you from this forum.
    It depends what your degree is in as well. My best mate from school did some kind of acting degree, and has been stacking shelves since graduating. There is far more graduates than jobs available in some subjects,
     
  16. Gathursty

    Gathursty Established Member

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    Did Maths at uni for 4 years, should have done three but they were offering a Masters at a third of the price. Afterwards, had no luck with assessment centres so decided to use my knowledge for the better as I'd done some volunteer work in tuition and did a PGCE over two years. At the thick end of my first year of teaching and love it. Will continue in education for as long as I am able to.
     
  17. Tomnick

    Tomnick Established Member

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    Although I was fortunate to have been able to walk straight into a relevant job with my engineering degree (which was a requirement for the job), I was told that my 'life skills' counted for a lot, if not more, too - having had the opportunity for a 'year in industry' and a couple of shorter placements (with the same company) and with plenty of voluntary work experience in positions of responsibility, I'd picked up quite a lot of experience and was able to demonstrate it. Indeed, I sacrificed quite a bit of potential study time to the voluntary work (and I know that I was neither the first nor the last, by any means, student to do so!), and still consider it to have been a far better use of the time.

    When the opportunity came, after a couple of years in the real world, to move onto the railway, I'm sure that my degree would have helped my application to stand out a bit more, but that the work and life experience was far, far more important!

    The contrast with some of my colleagues, both uni and (engineering) work, was quite astounding - many seemed totally unprepared for life outside the aforementioned 'bubble'. Even the basics - turning up for work on time, taking the whole thing seriously, managing budgets at home - seemed to elude some of them, and the worst offenders were almost always those who were very well financially supported through university, didn't need to worry about part-time jobs or anything else that might give them useful experience and spent the vast majority of their time drinking (and spending) heavily - and, it seems, still do! On the other hand, the little group of friends that I still keep in touch with properly are a really responsible bunch, have all settled down with thoughts of family life ahead, take their jobs seriously and clearly have a decent amount of common sense - and they all used their time at uni wisely, gaining that life experience in various ways along the way (obviously still drinking, just not quite so heavily!).
     
  18. W230

    W230 Established Member

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    Got a 2:2 in Geography from a very average university. Worked in some pubs, joined the police. Did nearly a decade but there were very few opportunities to specialise or even do anything remotely interesting.

    With budgets getting cut all over the place I decided I needed a way out asap before I ended up getting stuck. Applied for a drivers job, got it and have been doing it the last few years. Will I keep doing it? At the moment I like it, it gives me a good quality of life and suits my personal situation. But i'll be off to do something else (no idea what) if I end up getting nearly as grumpy as the old hands at my depot! :lol:

    So yeah, my degree was pointless. But university wasn't!
     
  19. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    Out of my 7 friends with degrees* none of them use their degrees in their jobs!
    They all say getting the degree was a waste of a year (or two) and they are all convinced they could have go their jobs without bothering with the degrees.




    That 7 friends with degrees not 7 friends in total! ;)
     
  20. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    You're not fooling anyone!
     
  21. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    I go for quality not quantity! :lol:
     
  22. RichmondCommu

    RichmondCommu Established Member

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    For what its worth the organisation that I work for will not consider graduates who have anything less than a 2:1. I'm afraid as far as we are concerned anyone who gained a 2:2 at University simply couldn't be bothered. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but Graduates have to understand that even with improved economic conditions the job market is very competitive.

    Its also worth saying that many Graduates that we interview struggle to communicate orally and have dreadful mental arithmetic skills. These candidates are clearly bright and intelligent so we can only assume that they can't be bothered to make the effort.

    One other thing worth mentioning is time keeping. For many years I worked as a currency trader and was at my desk by 06.00 in the morning, even as a 22 year old. I'm 49 this year and so have been around bit but we still expect our staff to be at their desks by 08.30 and to have had a decent nights sleep. That's not too much to ask is it?

    Finally, this all starts with good A level grades and trying to avoid Hobby Degrees. I really don't mean to be a bah humbug and my three youngest children are all at University and having a good time but please don't lose sight of the fact that the whole idea is to get an education.

    Good luck and best wishes to everyone currently sitting exams.
     
    Last edited: 11 May 2015
  23. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    I'll re type this tomorrow. Ha ha.
     
    Last edited: 11 May 2015
  24. E&W Lucas

    E&W Lucas Established Member

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    Have a good degree from a good uni, but I graduated in the middle off the '90's recession, so there were next to no opportunities. The plus, was that back then, you weren't saddled with huge debts.

    Did some Mc Jobs, got a job with a marketing agency, then a hotel management job (with zero relevant experience). A couple of years in that industry landed me a graduate programme (read graduate who already had management experience) with a household name company. Realised fairly soon that I don't like the corporate world, so jumped at the opportunity offered by train driving. That was back at the start of "Off the Street" recruitment. I thought I would do it for a few years to have had the experience, but having started a family, I recognise that security is everything, so I won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Plus I do actually enjoy my work.

    No education is ever wasted, but I would have thought twice about uni, under the present financing arrangements.

    If you don't land a "graduate" job, worry not. Building your own career path seems to have become the norm. If you end up in a bum job, try and get into a company with opportunities. The big service sector outfits are hungry for managers, and will promote from the shop floor rapidly, if you show initiative. Experience with them, will open doors to better things.
     
  25. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    I graduated in 1979 with a good 2/1 from a good university - there were close on 3 million unemployed and had the great fortune to become a Traffic Management Trainee with BR - survived a large number of reorganisations and the dreaded 1994 act. Done loads of jobs - but the toughest and most rewarding was the Ops Manager for a London area TOC. I look back with deep satisfaction on the great people I have worked with and the chance to make some good contributions over the years. The railway is a very special club and I am deeply honoured to have been a part of it for 36 years. I plan to finish in September this year having done my bit both professionally and on the domesic front.
     
  26. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    I spent 94 to 98 at Bradford Uni studying Mechanical Engineering and had a great time. I had some very serious problems at the same time but received excellent support. One of the problems was quite severe depression, the other was being the victim of quite a serious aggravated burglary.

    When I left I wasn't sure I had even studied the right subject, in fact, part way through the degree I wasn't sure I was doing the right subject but I stuck at it. Afterwards I was sure I did the wrong subject and perhaps I didn't do enough investigation in to what the course would entail. I just always grew up in an environment where you go to Uni and study what you are interested in.

    I love travel, I also love trains, planes and automobiles and how they work. I wasn't that interested in the hardcore physics behind what made them work, although I now have a half decent grounding in it.

    Most of my friends in the 90's went to University and are doing well for themselves. Only a tiny fraction are doing a job with any relationship to what they studied. They are the ones earning the most. One works in Switzerland in the leisure industry, another is an insurance actuary and earns silly money, the third is a climate scientist and although he isn't rich he is happy. The rest of us are doing pretty well in the service industries which our economy appears to focus on.

    I loved University despite the problems I had, however, I feel I could have done my current job without my degree.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Totally agree with that, my degree was pointless, but University wasn't.
     
  27. tynesider

    tynesider Member

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    I studied Transport & Business Management at Loughborough. Had the absolute time of my life (sorry for the cliché!), went on a placement year in the railway industry and now work for the same company I was on placement with.

    Of my coursemates, I'd say about three-quarters followed their intended paths into employment - They knew they wanted to work in transport, studied transport and now work in transport - The remainder were completely put off, and now work in sectors such as banking, or 'general' business management other than transport.
     
  28. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    Whilst I would broadly agree I would argue that the purpose of University is to study and to learn how to think for yourself, not just to get an education or a pass mark for a job. Most peoples degrees have nothing to do with the job they end up doing, they still need to learn on the job, and that goes for accountants, not just people who did Peace Studies or Multi Media Studies. .
     
  29. ralphchadkirk

    ralphchadkirk Established Member

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    I think an important part of university level education is learning how to research, how to synthesise knowledge and how to construct logical arguments.
     
  30. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    I think that is the principal part of a university education.
     
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