Graduate success stories: ‘My path to becoming a Project Manager’

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Jamal Akhtar, Trainee Project Manager at FDM London (Graduated in BSc. Banking and Finance, Middlesex University, 2016).

In November 2016, I joined the Graduate Programme at FDM London after graduating from Middlesex University in the summer with First Class Honours in Banking and Finance.

FDM are a leading IT and Business Consultants, working with over 180 high-profile clients globally across a range of industry sectors such as finance, insurance, media, transport, retail, government and not-for-profit.

Currently, I’m still in training for the role until February, on my Project Management Officer course. After completing, I’ll be able to progress to working on site with clients as a professional Business Consultant, working on current projects and gaining industry experience.

I found out about the opportunity from a friend who was already working at FDM via the Graduate Programme and they suggested I apply. Previously I was planning to work in an accounting role, but the more I found out about Project Management, the more my interest grew. What really made my mind up in the end, was the opportunity to gain the PRINCE2 qualification in Project Management, which is a really valuable qualification to have.

I am really glad I made the decision to apply; the training is excellent and everyone at FDM is really supportive. Everyone I’ve met at FDM are all really friendly. I feel I can walk up to anyone and ask them a question and they’ll be happy to help. Also, I enjoy working close to London Bridge as I think it’s a really exciting area of London.

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Looking back at my studies at Middlesex University, I’m glad that I got the opportunity to practice my presentation skills as it’s now an important part of my role. My course also gave me good knowledge of the financial industry, and many transferable skills which I’m now relying on, such as a good background in Risk.

Even though I didn’t carry out a work placement, I would recommend it to anyone still studying. I was lucky, as I had some relevant work experience, working for a consultancy firm. I worked as a Personal Assistant at the firm for 5 months, starting as a summer job. Otherwise, I would’ve definitely wanted to do a placement to gain the necessary experience and transferable skills before graduating. FDM offer full training, but having the right skills and experience really helped me get the job.

To anyone in their final year, I would also recommend applying for graduate programmes as early as possible, as there’s a lot of competition and opportunities can close early if there are too many applicants. To give you some idea, when I applied to FDM, just 3% were successful. 900 graduates got through, but they’d received over 30,000 applications!

I took part in employability workshops while I was at MDX. This helped me to develop my interview skills, and I attended open-day networking events to meet with different employers, which was good experience.

There’s an Open Evening at FDM London on 26th Jan for the IT and Business Consultancy Graduate Programme. For anyone interested in following in my footsteps, it’s a great opportunity to find out more.

Jamal Akhtar, Trainee Project Manager at FDM London 
(Interview by Matt Lewis, MDXWorks On-Campus / Online, Middlesex University)

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You may also like to read ‘The secret to finding a graduate job’.

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