Sarah Graves (BSc Mathematics, 2016) reflects on her time at Birmingham and tells us what she's been up to since graduating.
My time at Birmingham can only be described as the best three years of my life! My involvement in MathSoc was the best decision I could have made; being Vice-President in my second year and progressing to President in my third and final year. I gained so many skills and dramatically improved my confidence in my abilities and myself. Before I came to Birmingham I would never, ever have been able to stand in front of a lecture and give a speech, but by the end of third year it became second nature. The friends I made throughout my three years, but especially those I met through MathSoc, are now most definitely friends for life and my experiences would not have been the same without them. All the stress of being on a committee and time spent organising events was most definitely worth it and looking back I would not have changed a single thing.
Since receiving my results and spending my final few days (and nights out!) in Birmingham in June I have spent some quality time at home which is something I haven’t done in a long time, generally due to work commitments. It was really enjoyable to spend time with my close friends and family, as well as catching up with a few friends who I hadn’t seen during the whole of my time at university.
Then came graduation day. Graduation was so much fun! It was so surreal to see everyone in their caps and gowns, and it was lovely to meet everyone’s parents. The School of Mathematics put on a great post-ceremony reception with plenty of champagne and refreshments. It was so good that my mum and I needed to go back to our hotel for a nap before heading out for a celebratory dinner!
After graduation my attention turned to house hunting in London, which is much easier said than done when living a good three hours away. After a fair few viewings I managed to find a reasonable room which came in under my budget. Packing turned out to be extremely hard work; I didn’t realise how much stuff I had accumulated whilst at uni! But, eventually, moving day came and with a bit of help from my mum I managed to transport a good four suitcases down to London.
I joined the Barclays Finance Graduate Scheme in mid-August which kicked off with two weeks of intense training. This included an army-style assault course, several team-building exercises and volunteering at a summer camp as well the more formal, and most important, technical skills lectures. My specific graduate scheme is a three-year programme in which I will undertake three one year rotations throughout the finance department, hopefully gaining exposure to all the different finance roles available within all the different businesses that Barclays has. I also get supported through my ACA (accountancy) qualification, which is also three years long. My first rotation is in the Treasury Finance Department where I provide information and analysis which senior management use to make decisions about funding and investments. Working full time is definitely a shock to the system and with studying on top it doesn’t leave time for much else, but I’m definitely managing to find some time to explore London and absorb its wonderful culture.