Aksa Saleem

Computer Networks and Security - BSc (Hons)

Sceptical as to whether university was the right choice for her goal of studying an IT related course, Aksa thought that a degree apprenticeship was her only option after sixth-form. After one visit to Birmingham City University and the city, Aksa had a predilection for Birmingham’s vibrancy and knew that this university was for her. Through her studies and her placement, Aksa’s most salient quality is the development of her self-confidence.

“Being the first of my family to attend university was difficult for both them and myself to adapt to a completely new lifestyle. Although, this was a positive thing as my family saw the progression I was making and the development of my character. I originally applied for a degree apprenticeship because I always wanted to go into IT and I thought that university wasn’t going to equip me for that career pathway. A realisation that I really enjoyed research within the IT industry and conversations with my sixth-form teachers gave me the motivation to apply to university.

I visited all of the universities that I was interested in, but I knew Birmingham City University was the one for me. I liked the atmosphere and the vibrant feeling of being in the centre of Birmingham. Whilst attending BCU’s Open Day, I discovered the BSc (Hons) Computer Networks and Security course which offered so many opportunities for me to build my career on, as it is so practice-focused.

I was given support on my very first day at uni from both my tutors and the Student Union. They helped me become a student ambassador, as well as being a student representative and completing a plethora of extracurricular activities! As a student ambassador, I have been given the role to speak about my personal student experiences to prospective students and their parents/guardians at Open Days. This has enhanced my confidence and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone.

During an Open Day welcome talk, I had an incredible opportunity to speak alongside both the Vice-Chancellor and our famous Chancellor, Lenny Henry! I am most proud of myself for developing my public speaking. These roles have helped boost my confidence and to make friends which was extremely beneficial when I travelled alone for the first time in my first year.  

I was given the opportunity to undertake a placement year at Collins Aerospace where I worked as an IT Compliance and Desktop Support Engineer. This consisted of me repairing PCs and providing support both over the phone and on-site. I was given the responsibility to train 400+ employees which was an amazing feeling! I also got the chance to liaise with a lot of people within industry, as well as providing IT support in the U.S.A! I even had the opportunity to travel to different locations across the U.K to get an insight of what it would be like when I graduate in that actual role, which was very exciting! This placement enabled me to utilise and further develop the skills that I acquired on my course.

My course has helped immensely in developing me both professionally and academically. I have accomplished so much in terms of my personal growth. All of this would not be possible if it wasn’t for the CEBE Careers+ team at BCU. They really helped and supported me throughout my placement year, through tailored advice and consistent check-ins.

I have changed a lot since starting uni. The most prominent change is me gaining a heap of self-confidence. I have done so many things I would not have imagined, such as completing the UK Glass walk and Firewalk - yes, I did that! I am so much more vocal now and not afraid to speak my mind too, which is something I know I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before starting university. BCU has not only helped me find a voice but an identity and provided me with incredible opportunities to grown and learn.

Once I graduate from BCU, I am hoping to stay in the IT industry. The question is, do I go into engineering or a consultancy role? I’m not 100% sure yet as I love being practical and I cannot sit behind a desk all day. I am an individual who loves going out to speak to people and liaise with a diverse range of individuals.

To me, ‘I AM BCU’ is a very powerful and meaningful statement because I am a very proud student of Birmingham City University. I feel pride in everything I do: when I work here I am so proud to represent my university and have that feeling like, YES, THAT’S MY UNI!”

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