Clearing 2021

I always knew the corporate world was somewhere I would want to be, and university was my steppingstone to get there. Since college I had always dressed for the business world, heels and a blazer always, my outlook was – “you never know when an opportunity could arise, at least be dressed for it to come your way”. However, when my A-level results came in and things started to crumble, Essex took a chance on me and allowed me to study Economics. Big thanks to the Head of Faculty for this opportunity. 

My time at university was a rollercoaster for sure, feeling homesick as I had moved away from such a close-knit family as well as joining a course where it seemed everyone knew what was going on apart from me. But knowing what I know now, it was SO worth it and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I came across so many amazing opportunities throughout my years, from being the Co-President of the Islamic Society and hosting multiple events with over 100+ people. Meeting those from all over the world and having such a strong bond with them. Some of my closest friends ended up becoming family and are from countries which are miles apart. Throughout my final year I took on the role of a Student Ambassador, helping those students who were yet to apply see that Essex was the place for them!

Representing the Islamic Society at Freshers’ Fair

Being a student ambassador opened so many doors for me, one of which managed to land me to where I am today. I worked the STEM careers fair which hosted tonnes of companies from PwC to Lidl, such great insight into the different companies. BT – Openreach was having some technical difficulties so I did what I could to help them get set up. This led to discussions about the schemes they offered to students like me who were getting ready to start applying. One of the employees encouraged me to apply for their Finance Graduate Scheme at Openreach to which I took the brochure and followed it up that evening. Within 3 months I had completed their application and landed the position. I’m now an Operational Business Partner on their 3-year scheme whilst qualifying for CIMA. Looking at the finance function with tasks such as month end reporting, P&L dashboards and challenging the numbers to seniors in my team to improve things finance-wise each month.

As much as I’m grateful they took me on, it was not easy to get into a scheme. It was a very stressful time, balancing societies, dissertation and job applications is not easy! However, I went and got help from the Careers team. They were running workshops for things such as CV boosters, and assessment centres practice. One of the things I’ll never forget is a quote from one of the girls who assisted in running the workshops – “keep counting your rejections, you’re getting closer to seeing an acceptance”. I relay this onto anyone I meet, it is something which gave me hope that I was not alone in this process. 

portrait of Isma Asif on her First \day of work

I would very much encourage attending any workshops being held, there were multiple events that I attended just to get an insight of what the corporate life was about for example the Deloitte and KPMG workshops. They also allowed me to network with other students and for us all to help one another with support. 

As an Essex graduate, you get career support for life. The Generation Essex programme is exclusively for recent graduates and provides extra specialist careers support and resources for you for 15 months post-graduation. After that, there is tons of help available from Careers Services to help you land your dream role.