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Inspiring Career Success

Panel of alumni speakers from Make it Happen 2020

Audience at Make it Happen 2020

Yiheng Yu networking with students after Make it Happen 2020

We’d like to thank all our graduates who returned to campus in February for our 2020 Make It Happen with Sussex Alumni week, which marked the programme’s tenth year running. Events included ‘Careers In’:

  • Media and Communications
  • Development, Charity and Not for Profit
  • Business, Finance and Marketing
  • Government, Public Services and Heritage

380 students and recent graduates attended the events and were able to benefit from career insights and advice, top-tips, and networking sessions with the alumni.

Students found the event “invaluable”, “motivating”, and “helpful”. Many spoke about appreciating the opportunity to learn about how the panellists went from studying to working and “how they've gone on to do great things; in jobs they love”. One student said it was “reassuring to know that [the alumni] were also in the same place as me a couple of years ago” and another “appreciated their honesty, even though some of it was hard truths: because knowing it is invaluable”. Through attending these events, many students also discovered career options they hadn’t previously considered.

Some of the key themes that came out of the discussions were the importance of researching prospective employers and making use of university career services and extracurricular activities like societies.

Nikhill Gopal (Mathematics and Economics 2010, and Financial Risk Investment 2013), an Internal Auditor at RBS, advised students to develop soft skills because, in work, “it's all about how you communicate with people and apply those other soft skills.”

Charlotte Swope (Geography and International Development 2015 and Food and Development 2018), a National Management Trainee (NGDP) at Surrey County Council, agreed, saying that her extracurricular experiences “made me stand out a little bit more but also gave me confidence when applying for jobs.”

Many panellists reminded the students of the importance of carefully researching the roles and companies they want to work for. Meanwhile, Alise Viba (International Relations and Anthropology 2011), a Global Financial Crime Manager at Aviva, remembered from her own experience that many students don’t know what they want to do yet and had a different approach: “Don't overthink each step. Sometimes you just need to apply and see where that takes you. You'll take away something from each opportunity. At worst at least you'll know what you don't want to do!”

Co-founder of TAP London and Marketing Director of GoodBox, Polly Gilbert (English and History 2011) emphasised: “you shouldn't be afraid not to have all the answers”.

You can watch a compilation of some of their Top Tips for current students here.

If you’re interested in taking part in future career events on campus and online or mentoring students/other alumni, please sign up to Sussex Connect and set your 'Willing to help' preferences accordingly.

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By: Ruby Moore
Last updated: Monday, 1 June 2020

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