Working alongside your degree with Giuseppe Joulianou

I’m a final-year student in Computer Systems Engineering. I started at the University in September of 2017. Prior to 2017, I took a gap year from my previous college course, and I was one of the first students at Canterbury College to complete a full course in applied sciences.

I chose to study at Kent for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I believe it is a prestigious institution. I’ve always had a lot of respect for The University of Kent. So studying elsewhere was simply out of the question.

My first year at Kent was spent studying astronomy, space science, and astrophysics. It was difficult for me at first because I knew maths was not my strong suit. After failing the year, I decided to change my degree to Computer Systems Engineering because I realised that our world is becoming more and more interconnected by the day. Plus, becoming an engineer is something I’ve always wanted to do, and astronomy is a hobby I enjoy doing in my spare time. I.e., I’m currently attempting to solve a cosmological problem.

Despite my struggles and challenges, quitting has never been an option for me. I have always believed and continue to believe that if you are willing to give it your all, anything is possible.

The library is my favourite place to study. I spend most evenings in the library until 11pm before returning home to Margate. During the day, I’m usually in the lab working on something new and innovative, or attending lectures to learn something new.

I work two jobs in my spare time. Over the years, I’ve worked inside a phone shop, setting up contracts for various customers. There were times when I’d finish a lecture in the morning and go to work for the afternoon, then return to the library to continue studying. I usually work 4 days a week, including weekends, where I work a full day on Saturdays. I recently began working for my old college as a part-time instructor, teaching a few modules such as Cyber Security and Networking Infrastructure. I work full days on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30am to 5pm, and on Fridays I drive to campus to study until 12 p.m. before heading to my local store in Broadstairs, where I work half days on Friday and full days on Saturday. So Sundays are my only day off during the week.

I have to say that studying and working two jobs isn’t easy, especially in your final year of college. Nonetheless, I’ve always worked hard, and Kent has given me new and exciting opportunities that I hadn’t considered before. These experiences have given me the confidence and skills I need to share with others. During the lockdown, my course was converted to an online format. Many of the students in my class and other departments struggled. They struggled to understand the material because they were accustomed to being in a physical classroom. I knew what it was like to struggle, so I resolved to solve this issue. During the lockdown, I worked hard in between lessons to write up my own material to help multiple students better understand the information being conveyed to them. As a result, I was praised for my efforts and given an award by the department. I didn’t do it for an award; I did it because I genuinely enjoy assisting others. However, I was grateful for the department’s acknowledgement.

While studying at Kent, I had the added benefit of getting to know the lecturers, which was one of the best experiences I could have had. Getting to know the lecturers allows me to share feedback with them, and I’m not afraid to give critical feedback. All of my lectures acknowledged this and thanked me for my efforts. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of attending such a prestigious university.

I must say that I am grateful for my Kent lectures; they have been extremely informative and beneficial to my achievements. They all work tirelessly to ensure that we receive the best possible education.

So, what is my goal? My current ambition is to work in the field of aeronautical engineering, which specialises in the development of both aircraft and spacecraft. Currently, I have developed a wide range of skills during my time at Kent, some of which I have taught myself, including the use of fusion 360, Eagle PCB Design, and, most recently, Altium Designer, a PCB development platform widely used in large industries.

So, what comes next? Earlier this year, I approached one of my Kent lecturers about pursuing a PHD, and he offered to sponsor me. I explained my overall end goal, but also stated that I was not yet ready to leave Kent. If I am successful, I would like to work in the field of renewable energy sources and put Kent back on the map.

On a side note, Cafe Nero is my favourite place to enjoy the luxuries that coffee brings!