Hassnain Safdar: I am a final year Optometry student and I hope to be graduating this summer 2016. I chose Aston because of the outstanding reputation it has as an Optometry School, having been ranked 1st in the UK for many years. Moreover, the lecturers are world-renowned in the field and by pioneering research around the world, convinced me that Aston would provide the best academic opportunities. Additionally, Aston has an extensive range of societies that you can join and I am fortunate to have been the Model United Nations Society Captain during my 2nd year. Actively participating in societies has given me the opportunity to broaden my interests and currently, I Co-Chair the Central Region United Nations Association UK (UNA-UK). The one thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about my course is how each week we have the chance to practice what we’ve learnt in lectures during clinics. This is a great way to better your understanding of topics but also ask for help and feedback from the supervisors who have a vast amount of clinical experience. In addition to the outstanding academic teaching, the degree programme incorporates the “Professional Development” module which prepares students for the world of work post-University. I found the communication skills workshops and mock interview preparation sessions very useful when it came to applying for my pre-registration year. Initially, I would like to gain experience within the field as an Optometrist with a wider interest in improving eye health awareness in the UK but also abroad. In terms of further study, I haven’t decided whether I’m going to do a PhD although it’s definitely something I haven’t ruled out…Aston’s a great place to study!
Anisa Islam: My name is Anisa Islam and I am a second year pharmacy undergraduate, expecting to graduate in 2018. I got into Aston through clearing and it worked out for the best. Its a niche community compared to other universities, and is very specialised in it courses. The rankings that the university receives and the ethos of the university will help prepare me for my working life. I have a lot of friends who think that going to a Russell group university is what makes their University better, however, Aston's employment rates would suggest it isn't all about Russell group universities. The fact that the university is conveniently placed in the heart of Birmingham and so close to the city centre, makes it convenient with having a city lifestyle. My course caters for everyone, whether you prefer didactic teaching or something more practical based. It also covers a wide range of topics in aim of preparing us for the real world. Placements and enrichment opportunities are of a high standard and highly encouraged; they help us mature into the new generation of pharmacists. I was able to receive professional mentoring from someone in GSK who was able to advise me on my routes and options and help me on any issues I'd have with regards to my course. My personal favourite of my course was studying for a external qualification in addition to our degree which will help us get a job alongside university. This qualification has helped me get onto the career ladder and gain invaluable experience and exposure in a working environment. This gave me an insight on what to expect when i qualify, what kind of patients I am expecting or what kind of tasks I am expected to undertake. In my first year, I took the opportunity to start a beginners course in learning Arabic which has helped my communication skills and allowed me to network with other students in the university. This qualification has helped my employability skills as I can say I have learnt a new language. I have considered to apply for a placement but as it isn't part of the accredited course, I am seeking other ways to gain other opportunities. I have already had a job at a community pharmacy. After I graduate, I have to enrol on a pre-reg year. Upon completion of this, I will be able to practise pharmacy. I haven't been able to conclude which area of practise but I am drawn to either hospital or industrial. I would like to further look into product testing for cosmetics.
James Hill: I am currently in my second year of studying psychology at Aston University, a degree I started in 2014 and will complete in 2018. I am enjoying my course very much, especially the modules that focus on collating and conducting empirical evidence, as well as pretty much anything to do with neuropsychology. Simply put, I chose Aston because of its emphasis on the placement year scheme. Throughout sixth form, I was continually bombarded with prospectuses from Russell Group universities that emphasised their “history and reputation”. But at the same time my father, a proud pessimist of just about anything, would quote statistic after statistic showing poor employment rates for graduates from these esteemed universities. This seemed very important to me: What is the point of committing four years of my life to study if I cannot find work as a result of it? I then came across Aston and its incredibly impressive graduate employability rate, which it in part attributed to the inclusion of a placement year on many of their courses, including psychology. This caught my attention, and upon visiting Aston’s stunning city campus and learning of the great student community there, my heart was set. I am still undecided on what career I wish to pursue in the future, namely because many of the career options for a psychology graduate all appeal to me. That being said, I am leaning towards a career in the application of psychology in the business world, either through HR or Marketing. Despite my indecisiveness, the support I have received from Aston has been unendingly useful. Through the inclusion of modules designed to develop the professional side of students, an incredibly friendly and helpful placement team and the Professional Mentoring Scheme that I am currently enrolled on, I can see the ways in which I can gain a job that will truly suit me increasing almost by the day. The Professional Mentoring Scheme has been of paramount importance in this: my mentor is helping expand my knowledge of the ways I can find valuable work experience in a variety of roles and build the confidence I have in myself to put myself out there and begin a rewarding career.
Cristina Eddo: I am currently in my second year, studying Psychology and Sociology and will be graduating in 2018. Many are the aspects of Aston that ultimately convinced me to come and study here. The mixture of cultures, lively atmosphere of Birmingham and the fact that Aston is pretty small and everyone knows each are definitely among the many reasons why I am here. My favorite thing about my course is being the course Representative! This has allowed me to voice my colleagues’ views with the hope that our experience at Aston could reflect our positive expectations. I have also been able to gain knowledge of the skills I need to develop to be more employable from Aston throughout my placement search and from my professional mentor. Thanks to my mentor, I focused on these areas and also explored what other extra curricula activities I could dedicate myself to. This experience means a lot to me as it has taught me a lot about interviews tips. It has also taught me how to manage anxiety and channel it into confidence. I am applying for a placement and I hope to further develop my transferrable skills, although being in a professional scheme has already helped me a lot. I have not thought too much about what I want to do after graduation, although I am considering carrying on with a Masters degree, given the requirements of the career path I would like to take. I would ideally like to become a Counselling Psychologist or Social Worker.
Sofia Akhtar: I chose Aston University to study Biomedical Science as graduate prospects towards working within healthcare institutions are exceptional, the university provides facilities such as lab experience and professional development which equip you for the world of work. When I came to visit Aston University on an open day, the atmosphere was very friendly and the area was very dynamic. The location of the university is very convenient, being just 10 minute walk from bullring, there are always places to visit. I chose this course because of the broad range of modules provided, your future isn’t limited to one topic; studying this degree has definitely aided my decision towards the topics I would like to specialise in; lecturers are very enthusiastic and are always there to speak to whether it being course related or career related. The knowledge you gain from this course also affects your daily life e.g. topics such as Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology can change how you buy your products while shopping because you tend to think towards the scientific sides of things rather than just looking at labels. The university has a professional mentoring scheme through which I met my mentor, the scheme has been very useful towards helping me think about my possible career routes. I have met various professionals at Queen Elizabeth hospital through my mentor; including scientists who work in haematology/histology and a very inspiring clinical scientist who conducts critical research for healthcare. I am hoping to take on a study placement year abroad and undertake modules which may not be taught at Aston University. After taking this study, I believe it will be a decider on whether I want to take on a postgraduate degree or find a job in a biology based lab after graduating.
Rachael Ayegba: I am second year Biomedical Science student. I will hopefully take part in a placement year and thus graduate in 2018. I chose to study at Aston mainly because of Biomedical Science course. If you do your placement year at a NHS hospital in the West Midlands you have the opportunity to complete and send a portfolio to the HCPC and gain the certificate of competence. After said placement you are then transferred to the Applied Biomedical Science course which is IBMS accredited. An IBMS accredited degree and the HCPC’s certificate of competence are necessary if you want to work in an NHS laboratory. Another reason why I chose Aston is because of the fact that it is a campus university in the middle of a big city; it seemed like the best of both worlds. My favourite thing about my course is that this has sufficient theory based learning, which I prefer, but it also has enough practicals to add variety. I find the content very stimulating, and it is always interesting how all the different specialism link together though they differ. University, in general, has allowed me to learn more about myself as an individual. I now know which career paths would definitely not be for me. Aston’s Professional mentoring scheme has been really influential in my career progression. My attachment to a Doctor has been really insightful, educating me more about the career and also about other careers that relate to it. My mentor has been helpful, supportive, and a wealth of knowledge. The career team has also been helpful in my career progression, providing seminars on how to write a CV and cover letter, how to look for prospective placements etc. I am currently applying for placement. Still considering two career paths I believe that a placement in one of those roles would help me to come to a realisation on which one is the best path for me. A placement would also provide me with valuable experience that would aide me in my job search once I graduate. Doing a placement in a laboratory would also enable me to get a true perspective in how the theory I learn is applied in real life to better the lives of people. Working in a professional laboratory as part of my placement puts me in a great position to learn a variety of things I may not learn as part of my course and grants me access to range of technological improvements and advancements. I have not really considered a postgraduate course or a PhD in great depth but it is definitely a path I am interested in. I have not yet chosen a career path, being currently in two minds between medicine and laboratory research.