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Luke Tainton

Computer Networks - BSc (Hons)

Luke initially wanted to apply for an apprenticeship and considered looking for a job because he wasn’t sure which university course would be right for him. After attending a BCU Open Day, he chose to study Computer Networks. Since beginning his degree, Luke has received quite a lot of academic and pastoral support. This has allowed him to travel and gain networking experience with industry professionals.

"I always planned to go to university, but I never really had my eyes set on any particular degree. I did consider going straight into a job or doing an apprenticeship, but after attending a BCU Open Day I decided university was for me. I chose to study Computer Networks because I’ve been interested in computers from a very young age. As I progressed through school, I became even more interested in how they ‘talked’ to each other, how the Internet works and how IT teams maintain large company networks.

When I started at Birmingham City University, my biggest challenge was that I didn’t think I would ever fit into the typical uni lifestyle. I’m not the kind of person that likes to go out for drinks every week and I was never that social. However, I’ve made friends at BCU who accept me as I am and make time to socialise with me in other ways – although they do still try to drag me to a nightclub once in a while!

At BCU I’ve had quite a lot of academic and pastoral support. I’ve been on trips to Amsterdam and Wuhan which have both taught me so much. I attended a conference in Amsterdam, which was an amazing opportunity to network with industry professionals and learn about other technologies outside of my degree. The trip to China gave me an amazing insight into Chinese culture, while also allowing me to visit companies and learn about the products they make.

I’ve also been lucky enough to have undertaken a placement year at Cisco Systems. The year I spent there taught me so many things (both technical and personal) and has set me up well for my final year and a career in networking. I can’t thank BCU enough for helping me get that placement – I might be about to land a job at Cisco because of it!

I’ve gained many computing skills at Birmingham City University but the main skill I’ve learned is network automation through programming. It’s not on my version of the curriculum, but the Python sessions in first year taught me the basics of programming when I’d had no prior experience. I became put off programming during the Java sessions, however I used it so much while on placement that I learned to love it. Now I use it to automate as much as I can.

Since I began my course, the main change I have noticed is that I'm much more self-sufficient and intuitive, thanks to so much self-study.  Coming from a sixth form background, I was essentially spoon-fed through my GCSEs and A Levels so the jump to university, where you’re expected to do extra work outside of classes, was a massive shock to the system. It’s made me a better person though – I now have a much deeper interest in the subject and it’s helped me decide my career path.

Once I graduate I’m hoping to work for Cisco as a network engineer, with the possibility of considering management roles after a few years. My course has helped in so many ways – after second year I’d learned enough to become a Cisco Certified Networking Associate, and I’m hoping to become a CCNP (Professional) by the end of the academic year. Having the knowledge from both my degree and certifications, coupled with placement experience, has given me an advantage during graduate job interviews.

To me ‘I am BCU’ means being part of a community of students and staff, all working to advance the discovery of knowledge, gain a solid understanding of their subject area and collaborate while doing so. I’m so glad I get to be a part of that!"

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