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Interviews

From student to security

We featured in our October 2016 print issue Sarah Jeffery, security consultant at BB7, offering advice for religious buildings after recent acts of terror. This time she writes of how she went from student to security engineer at the consultancy.

The biggest challenge for every undergraduate is to find employment on finishing their degree. The difficulty of managing final year assignments, the dreaded dissertation and exams, combined with the pressure of securing a graduate position is the final test for all students to overcome before reaching the big, bad world. The attraction of sandwich years, internships and summer placements demonstrates how students are responding to this challenge to relieve the pressure placed on them in the ultimate year of their studies. More companies offering student internship opportunities further illustrates the mutual benefit these programs offer to both parties.

How I applied
I was a student fortunate enough to be granted an internship over my summer break before entering my final year. In my four-week internship with BB7, now my current employer, I was given first-hand experience of the security engineering industry and the corporate environment. Simply completing the application and interview was enlightening and unrivalled to any job I had applied to previously therefore providing me with vital experience in the job seeking process. During my internship I was thrown straight in at the deep end when tasked with delivering research and contributions to reports for fee-paying clients; far removed from the tea and coffee making service some interns come to expect. For me, an internship was invaluable in providing me with a unique insight into the commercial sector and the challenges this offers in contrast to those posed to a student. Furthermore, it was vital for bolstering my CV and honing the transferrable skills I had developed throughout the extent of my education.

The benefits
Internships, placements and sandwich years are not only brilliant for acquiring experience but offer an opportunity for students to demonstrate their competencies and sell themselves to potential employers, an opportunity unparalleled to that what a collection of letters on a CV and application forms can portray. I strongly believe that it was the demonstration of my go-get-it attitude and work ethic that secured me a position with my company following my internship.

Requirements
Completing my internship has enabled me to accurately understand the requirements placed on me as a graduate going into the working environment and to manage my expectations on commencing my new job. Having experienced work from the perspective of an intern, beginning my career as a graduate has not been a daunting prospect but instead something to be excited for. Furthermore, commencing my first job in a company with whom I interned offers me the familiarity of working environment and colleagues making the transition from university smoother and more effective. There are marked differences for me between being a student and a professional, the most notable of which is the change from unstructured to structured working patterns. Furthermore, the style of work that I am to produce in the commercial sector is vastly different to that required of a budding academic. Nevertheless, if 18 years of education has taught me anything, it is how to adapt from one stage to the next. The step from academia to the professional environment is another that I will quickly learn to adjust to.

From intern to employee
It is evident that now as a graduate employee, I am going to be placed with greater responsibility and expectations of me will be higher. However, having undertaken a degree and therefore learned to meet expectations and requirements to attain the highest grades my ability to meet demands has been nurtured. Furthermore, my educational career has equipped me with a range of skills that I can now employ in the commercial sector. Up until this point, the route to take as a young person is well directed: school, university, work. Having now reached this endpoint, the progression henceforth is rather unknown. This generates apprehension but also great anticipation and excitement for the direction of my career. I am very fortunate to have a joined a company that is dedicated to developing its people and in doing so advancing the industry in which it belongs. Combined, this creates a climate for me as a graduate to have a great opportunity to be empowered and developed in whatever direction I chose, whichever path I am most successful or by how the industry progresses and creates demands. Truly, the world has now become my oyster and I couldn’t be more eager for what possibilities are ahead. Education will always be there for me to return to but for the time being I have great expectancy for the learning I will instead be exposed to from the people and experiences I encounter in the commercial sector. p


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