Mario Sepede, PGDipEd (QTS) Science: Physics, 2014

BEng Computer Systems Engineering (2012), PGDipEd (QTS) Science: Physics (2014) 

Where are you working now and what does it involve?

I am currently working at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall. I teach Key Stage 3 Mathematics and GCSE and A Level Physics. 

Do you have any advice about the processes, applications or timescales involved in following your career path?

My advice is to gather as much information as possible. In my case, I visited schools and spoke to teachers and observed lessons. This kind of experience will provide learning opportunities and valuable insights into the inner workings of such a career. 

Would you recommend any alternative routes to get to where you are now?

The teacher training course at the University of Birmingham is incredibly comprehensive, rewarding and relentless at times. But, it is an absolute necessity in preparing trainees for the teaching profession. 

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

I have fully immersed myself in the life of the school which has led to my leadership of our “Near Space” programme, where we use high-altitude weather balloons to send probes into the stratosphere (above 35 km) and we capture the footage of their journey. 

What are the best and worst things about what you are doing now?

Any teacher will comment that the sheer volume of lesson planning and marking can be considered one of the ‘worst’ aspects of being a teacher and I would agree! However, despite this, it is humbling and rewarding to be able to make a positive impact on the education and life of young people. 

What were your career plans when you joined the University of Birmingham?

My career plan was to follow a path into engineering, which is something I still wish to do in the more distant future.

How did your course prepare you for your future career?

With almost complete certainty, I would have struggled immeasurably without my undergraduate degree; the vast workload taught me to prioritise and trial different coping strategies in order to meet deadlines – my postgraduate course then tailored this to teaching. 

How did you overcome the challenges of your degree course?

My aim was to complete assignments and lab reports gradually over time, rather than doing huge volumes of work very close to deadlines. Although, I’ll admit, this was not always possible! Involvement with other activities, such as running societies, playing sports and attending social events helped me greatly in balancing ‘work and play’. 

Do you particularly recommend any services at the University? 

It is always worthwhile to attend careers events and speak to an extensive range of organisations that could provide guidance in decision-making and even contacts for the future. 

What one piece of advice would you give to current students in each year? 

First year:  Keep organised throughout the year and look at the content of upcoming second and third year modules.

Second year:  Revise for exams early on and spend much time practicing for them – the better your second year results, the more it will support your final year.

Third year: Be strict with keeping to guidelines/suggested deadlines for the various parts of your dissertation.

After graduation: Take some time off to recuperate (ideally in the summer) – don’t launch straight into a job without having a break after three tough years! 

How do you see your career developing?

There are possibilities for more senior roles within my department which I will be aiming to fulfil. Depending upon how much I enjoy teaching after having done it for numerous years, I would like to spend time working as an engineer.