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DMU's Graduate Champions initiative secured Suraya a role at the university


Recent graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) that are seeking  full-time employment are being urged to follow in Suraya Mayes’ footsteps and take advantage of the university’s Graduate Champions internship initiative.  

Introduced in 2013, DMU’s Graduate Champion scheme enables businesses to recruit graduates onto six-week internships, which are funded by the university. Students can apply for up to two schemes between the September after their graduation and August if they have not found full-time employment in that academic year.

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It’s through this scheme that Suraya’s journey with DMU came full circle. Having enrolled at the university to study for her BA in Media Studies in 2014, the 26-year-old joined the DMU Works team as an Internship Coordinator in 2019 after placements at Leicester City Council and Access Generation.

She has since secured a permanent position as an Employer Engagement Co-ordinator where she supports employers with their recruitment of graduates through various methods, including the Graduate Champions scheme, which helped Suraya land her ideal job at DMU.

“Coming back to DMU has been so fulfilling,” Suraya said. “When I was at university, I would spend so much time on campus because I just loved the city-centre vibe here. Now I work here full-time, I couldn’t be happier.

“After graduation, I was working part-time and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Initially, it was education, but one of the best things about our Graduate Champions scheme is that you can test out career opportunities without a year-long commitment. It wasn’t until my second champions placement that I realised I got so much more job satisfaction helping students find work experience. 

“I ended up working closely with the DMU employment team through that role, so when I saw the vacancy at the university, I jumped at it. It truly has been the best decision I’ve made. My job is great – I often say to my friends it’s like recruitment without the commission. It’s just solely about matching the right company for the right student.

“When you have former students turned interns contact you saying that they love their role, it’s such a rewarding experience.”

The Graduate Scheme is open to employers across the UK. Each graduate is contracted and paid for by DMU to complete 18.5 hours of work a week (or 111 hours in total), for six weeks, with the university paying the Living Wage.

In the past, students have worked through Graduate Champions with renowned organisations including Leicester City Football Club, Marshall SEAT, and Joules.

Students can find out more about the DMU Graduate Champions initiative by contacting the team at

Suraya said: “Our team is essentially the middle man between the employers, students and the university. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes, reaching out to our partners and trying to match opportunities to students that we know will be interested.

“While I know many universities have their own careers and internship guidance, DMU is among the small number of institutions to offer to fund the internship themselves. We can offer our partners DMU graduates with fresh ideas and eager to get stuck in to a role at no cost to the employer.

“And by covering the costs, we remove that financial burden for both the student and employers, increasing the number of opportunities available to students. With the rise of flexible and remote working, our students can take up these opportunities all over the country – there’s very little downside.”

The DMU Works teams also offer a range of career support initiatives including webinars, mock interviews, assessments, CV workshops and an annual careers fair, which is set to physically return having been hosted online last year due to coronavirus restrictions.

Suraya added: “The career fairs is one of the highlights of our year as we can bring our students to the attention of a large number of employers on both a local and national scale. Companies such as Dunelm come in and talk to our students about their industry, available positions or their company philosophy. It really is a big bonus for students looking to find an organisation that matches their ambitions.”

DMU Works is the university’s dedicated team of career experts that offers both students and graduates flexible and tailored professional support. In February 2021, the team scooped the Best University Careers and Employability Service at the National Undergraduate Employability Awards, and in June, DMU was named in the top three for both Graduate Outcomes and Excellence in Digital Innovation at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards.

Posted on Tuesday 14th September 2021

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