Ugonna Ezema is feeling hopeful about his career prospects after attending a student workshop hosted by Amazon, the world’s largest online market place.
The Software Engineering MSc student was notified about the online event – which was designed to support Black and ethnic minority students in their career development – by his faculty placement team at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Delivered together with Everything D&I – a company working with employers to create opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds – the event explored career options within Amazon, including how to successfully apply for internships and graduate opportunities.
“I used to be really worried about not being treated fairly by employers and about being profiled for being Black. However, taking part in the workshop has left me feeling more confident in my own skills and abilities, as well as in employers themselves,” said the 27-year-old from Nigeria.
“The workshop took place as the Black Lives Matter movement started growing this summer, so it made me feel hopeful that big companies like Amazon were listening. I felt privileged to be among the students taking part and now I’m honestly looking forward to the future.”
As well as gaining valuable insights into a range of business areas across Amazon, students also had the chance to take part in a practical group task to solve a business challenge for Twitch, the leading live streaming platform for gamers.
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Although Ugonna’s team didn’t win the challenge, his contribution – alongside one of his team mates’ - was recognised with a prize. He won a Fire TV Stick and was named ‘the most highly committed, motivated and involved’ participant.
He said: “I was really shocked to win a prize. It was an extra boost to my confidence. It made me realise what I can achieve as an individual and that I can stand out among my talented peers from different backgrounds.”
After gaining a degree in computer science in Nigeria, Ugonna decided to explore postgraduate options in the UK, with his research leading him to DMU.
“I wanted to study something that was relevant in my country and of significance to my people. DMU’s modules were everything I envisioned so I was very happy when I got accepted,” he said.
As well as enjoying the course itself, Ugonna has also benefitted from his faculty placement team, which is a part of DMU works – the university’s careers support service.
He said: “It’s a really impressive team which prepares you well for the future. They help you to improve your CV, they send out job opportunities every week and I’ve even had one-to-one sessions to prepare me for specific interviews.”
When he first arrived in the UK, Ugonna planned to graduate and return to Nigeria to put his skills and knowledge to good use. Now his thinking has changed.
“I’ve realised that I can probably contribute better solutions to my people back home by getting a job in the UK and experiencing a global working environment with access to the latest technology and research,” he said.
“It will also give me a much better return on my investment for my education.”
Posted on Thursday 8th October 2020