Zarkash Islam

BEng (Hons) Software Engineering

Placement with Yorkshire Water, Bradford (Sept 2018 – July 2019)

A profile picture of Zarkash Islam, placement student
Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city, and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?

The deciding factor for choosing the University of Bradford was its strong connections with major industrial companies with regards to undergraduate placements and graduate programmes. This primarily contributed to my decision is choosing this University for my degree.

The University is full of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, making the transition into university life very simple. There are various workshops and activities to complement your studies, as well as on-hand support concerning job prospects.

Why did you choose that particular course?

Initially, I studied Architecture for a year at a different university – which was a field that I had decided, was not for me.  As I had studied Mathematics at A-Levels and had prior knowledge of coding web applications, I decided to pursue a computer related degree. With technology continuously advancing, studying Software Engineering seemed to be a great choice.

After completing two years of the course, it is safe to say that it is packed with plenty of content! Covering the fundamentals of computing to developing skills in programming – it is a course for those who love to problem solve, design and develop projects.

I have had the opportunity to manage projects, understand the technical aspects of computing, and develop strong skills in Java, SQL, PHP and HTML. The academic staff and tutors have been instrumental in assisting in my development in being a confident software engineering student.

What tips would you give to prospective students?

I would recommend keeping good time management skills and to ask for help whenever you are stuck. Keeping on top of your work and understanding the content delivered is fundamental in being successful within your course.

I would recommend working on your CV as soon as you can. There are so many applicants for one job role that you need to ensure your CV is professional and stands out to your prospective employers. Start applying early – many companies begin to advertise during autumn, which means you need to have a good CV and Cover Letter as soon as you can.
What support have you received from Career and Employability Services and Placement Staff? 

The Career and Employability Services helped me in improving my CV and Cover Letter – constantly providing me with feedback on how to improve my documents.  They supported me in gaining two summer placements as well as a nine month industrial placement at Yorkshire Water. They have been able to answer my every question and have really helped me in terms of providing interview skills and experience for assessment centres.

Visiting the Career and Employability staff has always resulted in a positive outcome, without them I wouldn’t have been able to secure my various placements, which have provided some great industry contacts, developed my skills, and increased my professional confidence. 

What action are you taking to improve your employability whilst at University?

Whilst at university, I constantly use the Career and Employability Services to improve my employability. They have been great in providing career advice, guiding me to create a high-quality CV, and recommending resources for interviews and assessment centres.

I have already had two summer placements related to my degree, one lasting for three months and the other for 8 weeks. Both have advanced my professional skills and allowed me to establish hands-on experience in the IT industry.  As stated above, currently I am on a nine month placement at Yorkshire Water as part of my industrial placement year.

I would recommend any student wanting to have excellent employability prospects to take up a placement, whether it be a summer placement or one for a whole year. It is a great opportunity to improve yourself and develop professionally!

What advice would you give to your fellow students about finding placement and work experience opportunities?

I would recommend working on your CV as soon as you can. There are so many applicants for one job role that you need to ensure your CV is professional and stands out to your prospective employers.   Start applying early – many companies begin to advertise during autumn, which means you need to have a good CV and Cover Letter as soon as you can.  Use the links provided by the Career and Employability Services and apply to as many opportunities as possible.

Make sure you have relevant experience – apply for the summer experiences provided by the university to ensure you have suitable skills to build an excellent CV.

Tell us about your current placement

I am currently working as a Master Data Administrator at Yorkshire Water. My role focuses on collating and cleansing data, to ensure that it is valid for the new S4/HANA system. Extracting information from various sources (existing spreadsheets, SAP, and company documents) and analysing the core data to map into new, valid data sets is key in my role; as is enriching and mapping such data.  Being a Master Data Administrator boils down to assisting the SAP Refresh Team to upgrade Yorkshire Water’s current system successfully!

How will the placement year benefit you when you return to study at the University of Bradford?

The placement is a great way of developing my technical skills and exposing me to various areas within the IT industry, providing a greater understanding of roles that I may want to take up after graduating.   It is also a brilliant way to make connections in the industry and provide relevant experience for my CV.