Chris Ellison

BA Modern Languages (Oxford University), MA Translation (Lancaster University)

Why I applied

I studied languages and worked abroad for my undergraduate degree before completing a postgraduate degree as a commuter student, so the University of Birmingham’s dual emphasis on global and civic engagement was particularly appealing. I’d also enjoyed working in professional services as a student and was keen to gain a wider range of experiences across at a different university. Living and working in a large and diverse city was another key attraction!

Chris Ellison

As a state-educated, first-generation graduate, I was keen to work for an organisation which shares my beliefs in the benefits of higher education and the importance of widening access


I’d say the best thing about the Graduate Management Training Scheme is the opportunity to work with so many different people. The University is full of interesting, talented, and, above all, friendly people and I’ve learnt a great deal from all of them. But if I had to pick three highlights, I’d probably say:

  • Supporting the University’s new Equality Change Programme and seeing just how committed colleagues from across the University are to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Working as part of a small team in Student Accommodation to implement new systems for an important, student-facing process.
  • Learning directly from senior leaders by working closely on strategic projects and being trusted to take responsibility for defined aspects of these.


I’d say three of the main challenges for any Graduate Management Trainee are:

  • Building your network.
    Networking can feel quite awkward. The best thing is to do is just be yourself and remember that everyone – even senior leaders – are human too, so don’t just talk about work!
  • Having difficult conversations.
    Being open about a particular challenge or development need is the only way to start solving the problem. These difficult conversations are more likely to be successful if you already have a potential solution in mind.
  • Making the most of opportunities.
    You’ll be offered all sorts of opportunities above and beyond the objectives for each placement, while it can sometimes feel like your diary is bursting it’s almost always a good idea to say yes.