With fierce competition in the jobs market, it’s becoming ever more important to secure work experience and bolster skills to enhance career prospects.
Michael Alexander, a computer science student at Robert Gordon University, has just completed a 12-month placement with Aberdeen-based integrated production data solutions specialist Aventa Systems.
His stint with the firm began after he saw Aventa technical director Anthony Buchanan at a university awards ceremony and duly asked if it would be possible to do a placement with the company.
He is now about to return to university with invaluable “coal face” experience after a year in the working world.
Michael was part of Aventa’s main operations team, working on a number of projects, including the development of the Connexus Data Brokering Service – a software system which compiles and distributes production data between oil and gas operators and their partners.
Michael, who during his time with Aventa also went to London to work on an innovative IT decommissioning project, says he benefited hugely from the experience.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Aventa and learned lots of new skills, which I hope will stand me in good stead for my final two years at university.
“The tasks I was involved in helped to build my confidence and provide me with an insight into the oil and gas sector and the types of IT systems used in the industry.
“I think I benefited particularly from the variety of work. For example, being involved with the Connexus product gave me exposure to a real-life software development project, introducing me to a range of new technologies while giving me the chance to apply some of the knowledge gained from my university studies.
“My time in London was spent working on a completely different type of project, allowing me to learn another new skillset and work with people from different backgrounds.
“Looking to the future, I hope to complete my university course with the best results possible and then find a job with similar roles and responsibilities to the one I experienced at Aventa.”
Aventa managing director Bill Whibley said the placement was a win-win situation, with the company also benefiting from Michael’s involvement.
“Michael had a great impact on our office,” he said. “His enthusiasm, for example, was fantastically contagious and really livened up the place.
“Our customers also thought highly of Michael who, I think, opened them up to the idea that you don’t necessarily need decades of experience to do a great job.
“But what was particularly interesting and useful for us was that he brought the very latest techniques and approaches direct from the university to Aventa.”
For anyone else embarking on work experience Bill has some advice.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always take notes. When new people start with us they are told they must never struggle on their own, even if they are based at a customer’s site.
“It’s imperative to work as a team, sharing knowledge and experience whenever possible, because the whole is undoubtedly greater than the sum of the parts.”