Thriving Aston University sociology graduate proves key to success is stepping out of comfort zone

Aston University was the obvious choice for Alaïa Atteeq when deciding to study her BSc (Hons) Sociology degree. She wanted to study at a leading university which offered the opportunity to complete a placement year, and she found that Aston University provided not only the academic requirements, but also a “homely” environment with “supportive staff”. 

While her first two years proved fairly uneventful, it was the placement year that ignited her passion in education and paved the way for the career that she is thriving in today as a Senior Associate at PwC. 




SU president

It all started with the placement year

Alaïa described herself as: “unengaged” in her early years at university but when the opportunity to run for Vice President (Education) at the Students’ Union (SU) came up, she made the bold move, stepped out of her comfort zone, and threw her hat in the ring.

She ran a successful election campaign, in which she drew upon her experiences at Aston University. On taking up the post of Vice President, Alaïa decided to focus on “understanding university policies” and improving the overall student experience. 


Climbing the ranks

Alaïa took the opportunity to have a gap year from her studies but used the time to get even more involved in the development of Aston University when she took on the role of President. She turned her attention to better appreciating the role, purpose, and structure of senior management in higher education.

Alaïa credits this time as providing the foundation for her current graduate role as a senior associate for PwC. Her studies at Aston University paid early dividends, as one of her first assignments at PwC working on an NHS project drew heavily on one of the key sociology modules during her degree. 








Opening a world of opportunities

The early decision from Alaïa to run for Vice President opened a world of opportunities as it gave her the confidence to continually look for new challenges and experiences. Alaïa not only joined the cheerleading team and organised TEDx talks, but also got the chance to go abroad as part of her presidential role and discovered a newfound passion for travel - something she would never have considered previously. 

Upon joining the cheerleading team, Alaïa involved herself as part of the stunt team, which really gave her a place to shine outside of her comfort zone, and the team placed third at her first ever competition. Despite partaking in the athletic aspect of cheerleading, Alaïa also pushed herself further to take on the marketing role within the team, where she built up a plethora of new skills that she could then apply to her studies, extra curriculars, and any further jobs she would come to do in her future. 


And it doesn’t stop there…

Later joining the TEDx team, Alaïa became Director of Strategy, where she looked into how her team could develop and progress over the next few years. She loved being part of such a big team, developing her leadership and strategic skills and organising events and talks for her and her team to be involved in. As a student ambassador, a role she describes as the “best experience anyone could ever get”, Alaïa put herself “out there” and gained confidence in presenting and public speaking. Alaïa has also been a mental health advocate, always checking in on fellow students and providing a friendly face as a receptionist at the SU. 

Never one to rest on her laurels, in her spare time, Alaïa began exploring internet streaming to ensure she kept up with the latest social media developments and now runs her own channel, content creating and engaging new audiences. 




Alaïa’s advice for students 

Alaïa said: “It is a privilege to be at Aston [University]”. Her advice to students is to take advantage of all the extracurricular activities that Aston University has to offer. “You need to step out of your comfort zone” and “upgrade yourself”, she emphasises. 

Currently, Alaïa is really enjoying her role at PwC and looks forward to further developing her consulting career.