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A maths graduates advice to new students

Matthew Arnold

Brunel ensured that I gained self-confidence when it came to addressing a new challenge alongside problem-solving and computational skills.

Matthew, Alumni

Senior Developer , XE

Mathematics BSc - 2015

From UK

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

Since graduation I have been able to progress my career at my own pace. I began my life in software in a Customer Support role. As I progressed into my first Development role, I realised that I had found where I belonged. I was learning every day, and spending some of my free time reading and researching. This allowed me to progress at a good pace, and eventually land my current role.

What does an average day at work involve for you?

Using the term 'average day' can make a role seem repetitive and boring. My role certainly is not, but most days I would spend my time developing our software with a constant push for innovation. I also spend my time mentoring and working with my teammates and keeping in contact with those colleagues spread out all over the world (whilst fighting time zone differences of up to 13 hours!).

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career has to be my entire role at XE. Not only do I get to continue to grow as a Developer, but I have opportunities to work with the latest technology, and some extremely talented Developers from around the world. This is also a bit of a cliché, but I have 'real responsibilities' which have arrived in my career far sooner than I ever could have expected.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

I felt that Brunel hit the sweet-spot with its modules; alongside the pure mathematics I was able to flex my skills within practical computer-based modules and also applied areas such as mechanics and risk analysis. Brunel ensured that I gained self-confidence when it came to addressing a new challenge alongside the problem-solving and computational skills which studying mathematics brings. This helped to lay the foundations for my career, enabling me to progress to my role at XE (https://www.xe.com).

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I chose Brunel because of the wide range of cultures of the students that attend, and the support that the University provides. You go to university to lay the building blocks for your future - Brunel does exactly this. Alongside the general character growth, Brunel also provides excellent support when it comes to finding work. I really felt that the Careers Advisors really cared and I never found it difficult to find help and advice - even outside of term time!

What is your best memory of studying here?

My best memory has to be the feeling of excitement when returning to university after the summer holidays. Brunel was a place that I called home for three years, and I feel that I made the most out of every moment that I spent there. Your time at university will be the best time of your life. You will gain plenty of new skills, and make many life-long friends.

You’re a keen supporter of Brunel in volunteering your time for professional events - how does it feel to return to Brunel to speak to current students?

It’s a great feeling to be back at Brunel giving a talk [for the Maths Employability Conference]. It wasn’t that long ago where I was on the receiving end of such a talk, and at the time I definitely never imagined that I would be in this situation.

When I was a student, I always felt that the talks were given from model students who always got the best grades, etc. My journey through university definitely wasn’t the easiest, so I really feel that I can give students some advice from the perspective of a not-so-easy-path through to graduation.

[As a student] these sessions really opened my eyes to just how many areas of work a Maths degree opens up to me. It also highlighted just how proactive the Placement and Careers team are when it came to assisting students

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Take your time and be yourself. You're the one making the decisions here, so don't let others try to make them for you. Throughout life, you will always be at your best when you are being yourself. If you are trying to be something or someone that you are not, then you will come unstuck eventually.

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

Don’t just rush into the first graduate role that you will find. There are a huge amount of open jobs out there, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t find any that you like. Saying that, you should trust fate; it may sound a bit silly, but in reality the ideal job for you will come along when it’s your time. For some people, that time is much sooner than others. If your time has not arrived yet, that does not mean you are any less hireable; it just means that the right role has not come along yet.