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A story about three friends, Future Space, and the power of a good network.

November 26th 2020

It’s everyone’s dream – you’ve graduated, you’ve found and awesome job, and your friends work there too!

When it comes to finding a job and getting your career started, this year has been more difficult than most, especially for recent graduates. Read the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2020-21 edition and you can see some of the significant challenges graduates are facing.

That’s why it is so uplifting to be able to report on positive graduate stories we are seeing, including companies taking on interns and seeking out graduates to join their growing teams.

Jack, Josh and Joe are recent graduates, they are childhood friends and they are all newly employed at companies within Future Space. We caught up with them to talk about what they’re up to and their experience so far.

Tell us how you know each other

We’ve known each other since school and we’ve always been interested in similar things. Jack tells us that Josh was one of his first friends when I moved to the UK from Australia. The three friends joined different universities after school but have remained close.

Josh highlighted that he and Jack both studied at the University of the West of England (UWE) which made it much easier to keep in contact. Despite Joe being in Exeter, Josh says that “our friendship group would always catch up when everyone came home for the holidays and other occasions”.

Joe Barham, graduated from Exeter University in June 2020 with a Masters in mathematics. Currently employed by IDAS Global as a Data Scientist.

What have your challenges been in finding work this year?

All three friends have found this year challenging and Jack recalls months of looking and applying for jobs, with almost no response. The search ended well though - “After hearing about the job at Yantra I applied and got into an interview a day later. I got the job and I started work the following Monday!”

Josh on the other hand was faced with choosing between more study and work – “Going into this year I was a little worried with my options being either to continue on to do a masters year at UWE, or finish with a bachelors and try and get out into the world of work.”

“Neither option seemed very appealing as continuing on for the masters could have been a struggle as running a course completely online is still a fairly new concept to most universities and with the current world situation the aerospace sector in general has taken a massive hit and so jobs for aerospace engineers, like all jobs at the moment, are few and far between.”

Josh discussed his concerns with advisors at university and decided to stay on the course - “as luck would have it, I was able to get a job very soon after completing my degree, which was a massive relief!”

Joe graduated in the summer and took on a job at Lidl to make ends meet. He was grateful for the work, but already he was growing concerned over finding a relevant job that made best use of his qualifications. “I was definitely starting to worry I wouldn't find a maths job. A few people had told me that if I didn't get one soon after graduating, that employers wouldn't believe I could still remember it all!”

Since Joe started his new role, Dr David Finnegan (CEO, IDAS Global) has told us that "Joe is an excellent addition to our Data Science Team". 

Josh Wilkinson – studied Aerospace Engineering at UWE. Graduated in September 2020. Currently employed as a Systems Engineer for MTJB Engineering.

What are you up to at Future Space?

Joe is working for IDAS Global as a Data Scientist within the data science team, where he gets to work with Artificial Intelligence and non-conventional machine learning methods. Joe comments that “It’s fascinating work. I love how willing IDAS is to use new ideas that anyone in the company has, and how much freedom I have to make my ideas come to life!”.

“Thanks to IDAS and Future Space for the opportunity”

Despite studying different subjects at University, the friends have similarities in their job roles. Jack is Digital Executive for Yantra Digital. Jack describes how he has a range of responsibilities, including software project delivery, designing solutions, and testing new software.

Gurps Nijjar (Director, MPH Group) remarked that "Jack has been able to experience a wide range of technical work from client side to software engineering. He started adding value in week two and has become a well-liked and key player in our team." 

Josh now works as a Systems Engineer for MTJB Engineering, where he is currently working on an avionics system project for a commercial aircraft. This is a broad role – a typical aerospace systems engineer could work on lots of different parts of the final product, for example guidance systems for one project and then propulsion or even aircraft design to some extent on another. Josh explains how he loves the variety of the role, especially working for a small company – “there is lots of scope to work on different parts of multiple projects, so you never really have a chance to get bored”

At a time of such uncertainty, it is wonderful to see these three young graduates are all employed in relevant jobs that make use of the excellent skills and qualifications they worked so hard to gain.

Jack Walker - studied Mechanical Engineering at UWE. Currently employed by Yantra Digital as Digital Executive.

How did you find out about the roles at Future Space?

This is where the story gets event better – Emilie Smith our Customer Administrator at Future Space, is also Jack’s mum.

At Future Space we have a community of almost 50 companies covering science, tech and engineering sectors and, despite the pandemic, many of these companies have been celebrating funding and many are also growing their teams.

Emilie describes how most jobs on the market required certain years’ experience, something that graduates don’t always have.

Emilie has a passion for customer service and finding new ways to help Future Space residents, so it is no surprise that when she heard of companies recruiting, she could see an opportunity to help. Emilie describes how she heard that Yantra Digital were recruiting and the skills they were asking for matched Jack’s background – “I told them about Jack’s experience and after seeing his CV they called him in for an interview”.

Jack was working on a contract at the time and had spent months looking for work with almost no response. “Having spent months looking for work, it was great to finally find something relevant that utilises my skills”.

This wasn’t the last time Emilie would play job matchmaker at Future Space – in the proceeding weeks, she would discover that both MTJB Engineering and IDAS Global were recruiting. Knowing that both Josh and Joe were also looking for work, and met the key job skills, Emilie set about gathering Jack’s friends’ CVs and passing them over to the relevant companies. Both were successful at securing an interview and both were hired for the respective roles.

Emilie comments that she recognised what a hard time so many young graduates were having because of the slowdown in recruitment of junior roles in virtually all sectors. “I’m good at networking and having established good relationships with the companies at Future Space, I was able to find roles for a few of the young people that I knew personally.”

Jack’s friends were grateful for Emilie’s help - “I said to them that should they ever be in a position to give a young person an opportunity, they should remember how they got their first job.”

It also demonstrates why our networks are so important, and as we continued the conversation Josh remarked that “from my experience, the saying ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ is true, and this has only confirmed that for me. Although, you need to know your stuff too! I never really understood how important networking was until I started looking for placements and jobs towards the end of university, and I’m going to be making sure I make as many contacts as I can, wherever I go!”

There are many more talented young graduates out there looking for work and Emilie has said that she wouldn’t hesitate to step in and help again, should the opportunity arise.

Emilie Smith – Customer Administrator for Future Space.

So, the all-important question - what’s it like working in the same place as your friends?

Getting out into the world of work after university can be difficult, and even more so now with the added complexity that the pandemic brings, such as remote teams.

Josh describes how having friends around can help smooth the transition from university life into the professional life. “it’s also nice to have some people to talk to, as we’re all sort of in the same boat.”

The three friends are now in the habit of taking lunch breaks around the same time as each other. During their lunches they chat about common interests, and Josh says that it really helps to break up the day.

Joe adds that “it makes a big difference actually to be able to meet up most days, and any stress you're feeling goes away at least for half an hour”.

January 12th 2021

Future Space Guest Blog: Jack Thompson, Founder of Ginkgo Business Development

Jack joined the advisory_space programme earlier this year as our virtual in-residence Business Development and Sales specialist, providing expert advice and support to the Future Space community. We asked Jack why having a good network is so important for businesses.

December 9th 2020

Future Space Guest Blog: Alan Gould, Independent Grants Specialist

Alan joined the advisory_space programme earlier this year as our virtual in-residence grant specialist, providing expert advice and support to the Future Space community. We asked Alan how the events of 2020 have changed the grants landscape for Future Space members and other similar businesses. 

November 24th 2020

Future Space Guest Blog: Nick Dean, Managing Director, ADLIB

In the summer of 2020 ADLIB joined the advisory_space programme as our virtual in-residence recruitment partner, providing expert advice and support to the Future Space community. Three months on, we’ve asked them to share some of their market insight from the life science and tech sectors.