Human Resource Management student Leena Sharma will be leaving De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) this summer with both a first-class degree and a coveted graduate role at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
The 21-year-old from Birmingham will be working for the automotive giant across its Human Resources (HR) Process Optimisation, People Engagement and Performance Management departments before deciding which discipline to specialise in.
Securing the role with JLR was no easy feat as Leena endured an eight-step process, which included an in-person presentation, before she found out she had the job.
“Bless my mum, she cried her eyes out when I got the job,” Leena said. “She put together a little celebration party with balloons and was so proud.
“It was a very big moment for me and everyone took it upon themselves to celebrate my achievement – there was a lot of wine and cake too.
“At the start of my final year, I started applying for hundreds of roles. It’s a very competitive market but I was keen on securing a role in the automotive industry because it’s one I know.
“When I applied to JLR, a couple of things stood out to me; the first being that it would sponsor my CIPD Level 7 training, my last HR qualification. They also do graduate networking events and every month we are allowed to take additional training and awarded certificates at the end of each quarter.
“Applying was a long process. It took about two-and-a-half months I think. We had to present to the team what we believed JLR’s barriers have been over the last 12 months but while we were in there, they flipped it on us and we had to do an impromptu presentation on their successes in the last year too.
“It was an interesting challenge to be put on the spot and adapt something you’ve put so much work into on the fly. It was a sink or swim moment.”
Business is in Leena’s blood. Her parents are both [JOB titles] and that exposure to the corporate world rubbed off on her own career aspirations.
Aged 14, while at an event in school, she was recruited to a workplace report project with security giants ADT and Tyco International, after a representative was impressed with her poise and confidence in public speaking.
The project would see Leena spend time learning more about the company’s marketing, business management, HR and sales before making a presentation for its website. It’s here where the seed for working in HR was firmly planted.
When university beckoned, Leena found that everything she wanted from a course – including a Level 5 CIPD qualification and approachable lecturers – was neatly wrapped up in a package at DMU.
Leena said: “Stepping foot on campus, you can get a very good feel for whether you would like to study there or not. Coming to DMU on an Open Day, I felt I connected with the university but what impressed me the most was the care and passion my lecturers spoke with.”
Through DMU Local, Leena also managed to find opportunities to test her skills, including Clean-Up For Leicester and speaking on a podcast about allyship, the concept of working in solidarity with marginalised groups of people to ensure equal access to society.
Her ambitions to secure a job in HR were not derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite having one placement cancelled, she was able to secure a year’s internship at an IT specialist company, which gave Leena a deeper insight into workplace culture and working across departments.
She said: “I wanted something in IT and cyber security because it’s a growing market and I felt I needed a better understanding of technology.
“The role was really broad. I would do all HR’s general enquiries, disciplinary procedures, absence and redundancy policies, as well as recruitment. As a team, we were looking at ways of making those processes as technologically innovative as possible, which was a challenge during Covid.
“I also had a three-month secondment in sales, which was a great chance for me to learn more about service management and understand more about the personal needs of the company’s biggest department.”
As her graduation approaches, Leena is looking forward to starting her role with JLR in September.
“It sounds strange but I’m actually looking forward to going into the office,” She said. “Covid took away most office experience but I’m really excited to physically go into a company and put my knowledge into the workplace.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing what lies ahead of me. I have an idea of what it might be like but let’s see how it all unfolds.”
Posted on Monday 15th August 2022