The Aston University graduate’s journey of self-discovery during his placement

BSc (Hons) Accounting and Finance graduate Syed Hasnat Ahmed embarked upon a journey of self-discovery during his unusual placement experience.

During his placement year, Hasnat’s experience was severely impacted by the pandemic that resulted in the loss of his placement role. Despite the challenges, Hasnat managed to secure an 8-week internship with the National Audit Office which translated into an Assistant Auditor graduate scheme.

Aston University stood out to Hasnat as the perfect choice for him, where his course provided him with the perfect package to make him highly employable. Life at Aston University provided Hasnat with amazing memories that he could write books about. Looking back at his time at university, Hasnat acknowledged that choosing Aston University was the best decision he made: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Aston [University].”


Syed Hasanat Ahmed

Aston Campus

About the role

Initially, Hasnat secured a placement with a local council authority, supporting their purpose of helping young people transition from their studies into the world of work. Hasnat was excited to share his perspective of what life after studies may entail and found his time working in the public sector to be very fulfilling. However, the Covid-19 pandemic caused his placement to end before Hasnat was able to have completely immersed himself in the role.

Despite the setback, Hasnat was determined to gain professional experience during his placement year. Through his perseverance, Hasnat was fortunate enough to gain a summer internship as a Financial Analyst within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Hasnat was involved in analysing financial reports and eventually was given the responsibility for independently producing a report on England’s sewerage systems. 

During his internship, Hasnat was involved in a meeting with the Head of the National Audit Office (Gareth Davies) and Lord Bichard, both of whom seemed impressed with the interns’ presentation. Following this, Hasnat and his fellow interns were actually mentioned within a parliamentary hearing that praised how young people are adapting to new changes.

He said: “I have been very fortunate that I have been able to secure roles that both make me happy and look good on my CV.”

A journey of self-discovery

For Hasnat, the placement experience provided him with an amazing opportunity to ease himself into a real professional working environment, something that is highly beneficial to students when they graduate. Through his internship, Hasnat developed his ability to adapt quickly and take action in his role, positioning him in a valuable position for his career prospects.

Along with developing his financial proficiency, Hasnat was also able to develop invaluable soft skills such as the ability to effectively communicate in a professional manner and efficient time management, to name but a few.  

Whilst reflecting upon his experience, Hasnat observed the tendency for students to set high personal expectations, which when not met, inevitably results in a feeling of failure. They forget to see how far they have truly progressed - something he believes need to change.

Hasnat noted: “This time is to learn and develop. However, setbacks are inevitable, do not take them personally but a moment to reflect on yourself and see what can be strengthened.”


Students on campus

Social distancing

Impact of Covid-19

During these unprecedented times, Hasnat unfortunately lost his placement role but his refusal to let the pandemic prevent him from gaining the professional experience he desired enabled him to secure a new role. Hasnat was impressed by how businesses adapted to the change, with the National Audit Office providing him with extra equipment to aid him work remotely seamlessly. Preferring this method of working, Hasnat felt it gave him more control and trust from his team to complete his work, a sense of responsibility he had not previously experienced.

Hasnat acknowledged: “Without Covid[-19], I would not have applied for a summer internship at the National Audit Office which ultimately led to me securing a graduate role.”

Advice for future Aston University students

For Hasnat, Aston University enables students to graduate with a broad range of skills and knowledge tailored to the modern business world, consequently significantly increasing their students chances of securing amazing roles.

He said: “The Careers and Placements team are an amazing place for help and I think that students should utilise them a lot more than they currently are”.

Hasnat believes Aston University is the perfect place for future students who want to immerse themselves in student life and be at the heart of a bustling city.

He advised: “I would encourage students to become as involved and active as they can in every experience that is thrown their way.

“A degree from Aston [University] goes far beyond the certificate you receive at the end of your studies. It prepares you for life after your studies.”


Students in SU

Next steps

With an amazing experience during his internship, Hasnat is more than delighted to continue his professional development with the National Audit Office as part of their graduate scheme.

Over the next 3 years, Hasnat will be training to become a Chartered Accountant, after its completion, he intends to travel and is considering working as an accountant abroad.