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James Gray Business School

James shares how his placement experience helped him secure a graduate role. 

 James Gray

"Employers see a placement as a 12-month long interview."

James Gray
BA Hons Accounting and Finance 

What was the Clearing process like?

On results day at sixth form it's very daunting if you don't get those first places at university. You're thrown into limbo, thinking 'Well, what am I going to do now?'. I called a few universities and asked them if there were any places for me to study accounting courses.

I spoke to the programme leader at the University of Greenwich and he was so enthusiastic and very open to what Greenwich is like. He helped me decide Greenwich was perfect for me and offered me a place.

What made you decide to study at the University of Greenwich?

Greenwich is a fantastic university situated on the bank of the River Thames looking onto Canary Wharf. When the programme leader offered me a place it was hard to say no.

The Accounting and Finance department is very strong with excellent lecturers and a good balance between coursework and exams.

What has your placement year taught you about your career?

My placement was with a construction company called BAM Nuttall Limited, which is part of the Royal BAM Group, a multibillion Euro organisation.

My role was as a Trainee Quantity surveyor, which I guess you could say isn't a typical career path for an accounting graduate. One day you'll be at your desk writing reports on Excel but then in an hour you'll be down on site seeing how your numbers affect what is going on.

I wanted a job where I wasn't sitting at a desk from 9 until 5 doing the same tasks every day, every month. For me that would get very repetitive and very boring, so I want a career that is varied to extents but still has the fundamentals of maths and finance.

How did you secure your graduate role at BAM Nuttall Limited?

I got the graduate role through my position as a placement student. Upon completing my placement, I realised that the job I was doing was something I would like to do as a career. I asked my line manager if there was any chance of future employment, and he offered me a graduate job once I've successfully completed my degree.

What advice would you give to students who are seeking a graduate role?

The easiest way to secure a graduate role would be to go on a placement because employers see a placement as a 12-month long interview. If you manage to perform well your placement year and create a good relationship with your employer, you've got a much better chance of landing a graduate job.

Otherwise, try and gain as much experience as possible. Apply for summer internships in between university years because you need to show potential employers you have a good work ethic and are keen to learn.

You have to remember, you're not the only one applying for the graduate job, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of other students applying for it, who all have similar experience. Make your CV stand out!

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