Modern challenges

Today's graduates face a much more competitive job market than their parents, but life at university still offers many opportunities to make their CVs stand out from the crowd.

That's the message from alumnus Derek Lowe (BSocSc Political Science and International Studies, 1976), whose daughter Amelia (BA History and Political Science, 2017) has just graduated.

As Derek put it: 'My wife Lynne and I were always aware of getting our kids to think ahead. Running my own business means I have seen how the job market has changed for people leaving university.

'These days, there are many, many more people applying for every position available. You have to ensure your application is as strong as possible to put yourself ahead of the pack.'

In the case of Amelia, that meant taking on as much work experience as possible, including acting as a student ambassador, joining the student team supporting the B-Enterprise scheme and volunteering at the Barber Institute.

Derek added: 'We wanted Amelia to identify the areas she might want to have a career in, and then go and get the work experience that would be relevant.

'She has worked for my public relations company but is also a talented artist and will soon be starting an internship with an arts PR agency.'

The Lowe family has strong connections to Birmingham. Derek's older brother Ian (BSc Industrial Metallurgy, 1969) was first to study at the University, and Derek would meet Lynne (BA English, 1979) in his fourth year.

Derek's older son James studied at Oxford but Amelia selected Birmingham as her first choice, with an unconditional offer providing the final encouragement for her to attend.

'I encouraged her to make the most of her time and she did that very well,' said Derek. 'All we want for our children is to have the right balance of enjoying their life and being happy but also having a fulfilling career and I think Birmingham certainly sets you up for both.'