Having completed her Computer Science with Year in Industry degree, Channing Gardner began her career as a graduate at Microsoft.
What attracted you to Kent?
I visited Kent and liked the campus feel. I have always loved technology and I was interested to see what I could do with that, which led me to computer science. I went to a talk about the year in industry and all the opportunities Kent offers so put Kent down as one of my choices.
How were your studies and what did you find interesting?
I enjoyed lots of modules but my top ones were in web and databases. I liked the level of creativity they allowed and that you gained very marketable skills. Website design is a skill that I loved learning and it is now proving really useful. Also, you can choose wild modules, so I took computer graphics and animation, which was amazing.
We learnt about the hardware and software aspects of computing, which allows you to put things into a context and helps you makes sense of them. I got practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge.
Also, the facilities are really good. Makerspace allows us to do literally anything – I’ve seen people building all sorts of things. We also have our own computer lab; the facilities are great one of the biggest selling points actually.
Were you able to pursue your own interests?
Yes, absolutely. My main passion is in the creative design side of things. I am interested in animation, media and virtual reality and I was able to select modules in those areas.
What about your fellow students?
Everyone was cool. There is a lot of teamwork, which created a camaraderie among us and we helped each other.
Did your degree change you?
It gave me a new perspective on the way technology impacts the world around me. My degree gave me confidence and put me in a good place when looking at future careers – every business needs IT professionals. We were told there was no limit to what we can do and that has given me faith in my employability.
Did you enjoy your time at Kent?
They were some of the best years I’ve had. I loved the independence. I could work, learn and play in my own time. You are with people of your own age, but a really diverse set of people, and that is one of the best things about university.
Memories include Fresher’s Week – hilarious and amazing – and the summer balls which were brilliant, an end-of-year showcase, everyone is chilled after exams. Some of my happiest memories are from the summer balls. I’m glad I went to Kent, I had a great time.
What careers advice did you receive?
Lots, including how to react on an assessment day, how to market your skills, how to work with colleagues in a team and how to deal with different personalities such as introverts and extroverts. And we had mock scenarios which were really helpful.
In what way has your degree helped you find work?
I think my placement at Cisco has been a springboard for me. When I am asked in interviews about my experience I can talk about that. My time at Kent has helped me to that first step and I have now secured a graduate role at Microsoft.
What are your plans for the future?
Obviously, I want to see where I can go with Microsoft. Eventually, I would love to work in virtual reality and perhaps get involved with app development. Ultimately, my dream would be to start my own business.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Jump into everything, all the societies. Pick modules that you are passionate about. Hang out in the School of Computing and chat with people from other years because you can get some really great mentors who will help you with your studies.