Kevin Amouzou, Alumnus, BSc Business Information Technology
“There are lots of ways you can make yourself stand out from the crowd and make it easier to find a job”
Business analyst Kevin Amouzou (BSc Business Information Technology, 2017) recently returned to LSBU as an alumni volunteer to speak to our current computer science students about the challenges he faced and the barriers he overcame on the way to career success.
I really didn’t want to go to university. I’d spent two years at football college, then I got an offer to study sports science at the University of Bedfordshire. I knew I wanted to go into IT, not sports science, but I was determined to go down the apprenticeship route. Then my Dad woke me up one day by handing me the phone. He’d called LSBU via clearing. That was it, really. I decided I’d give it two weeks to see if I liked it. And three years later, there I was, graduating.
I gained a lot from my course – but I learned so much from working as well. By the end of the first year, I’d realised I really needed to find a job. I started out as a cleaner, but it was just too much. I’d start work at 5am, get changed at the supermarket, come into LSBU and fall asleep in my lectures! Then I got a stewarding job, working at events. I did that right into my third year. I have autism, and doing a job like that really helped me build up my communication skills and confidence.
Playing football really brought me out of my shell. I played for the LSBU team throughout my time at university. Some of those matches are still etched in my mind, especially losing to our main rivals, UFCB Wembley! I’d never found it easy to make friends when I was young, but football made me much more sociable, both on and off the pitch. Talking about tactics, trying to encourage everyone to play as a team, I really found my voice.
Finding a job after graduation wasn’t easy. I came out with a 2:2 and that automatically rules out a lot of options. Eventually I got on to a graduate scheme with Capita, which was great. But when they didn’t give me a placement I found myself on the sidelines. That was when I came back to LSBU to do a three-month internship working on the University’s new website.
I definitely think the internship helped me secure a permanent role. It gave me experience, it gave me confidence, it sharpened me up in terms of my knowledge and just knowing what questions to ask. Capita actually ended up asking me to come back, as a junior business analyst. From there I went to Adecco and on to CACI Ltd, from where I’ll soon be moving to a more senior role at Netcompany. My job is all about engaging with clients to understand what they need and then coming up with a product or service or programme that makes life easier for them. I find it really rewarding.
I came back to the University to speak to students as an alumni volunteer because I didn’t want them to struggle like I did. There are lots of ways you can make yourself stand out from the crowd and make it easier to find a job. Get involved in extra-curricular activities, try to find internships and work experience. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is working hard for you. Don’t think it’s enough just to study for three years and come out with a degree – it isn’t. And if you need support, ask for it. I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently because of my autism, but looking back I can see that it might have been better for me to have spoken up.
Mentoring is something I really enjoy. I wrote a LinkedIn post saying I’d be happy to offer advice and guidance and I’ve had so many responses. I’m talking to people all over the world about what kind of roles are out there, how to apply, and how to improve their CVs and online profiles. It’s something I really enjoy, and that I’d like to develop more in the future, maybe even setting up a coaching and mentoring business.
In the end, I had to admit that my Dad was right about university. Fortunately he doesn’t mention it but I still like to remind him from time to time how grateful I am to him for making that decision. I was very stubborn back then and he was the one that gave me the push I needed.