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Ben Willett (BA Philosophy 2008)


My career is currently within programme management in the aerospace industry. I have always had an interest in aerospace but naturally moved away from engineering due to a stronger skillset in humanities. I followed an academic route that interested me and not one that I thought would explicitly get me into a particular career. Doing what I enjoy and playing to my strengths is important to me, I have always pushed myself to achieve but always remembered to enjoy life.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

I chose Reading following visits to the philosophy departments of a selection of universities across the country. I found Reading to be the most professional and exciting in terms of lecturers and course content. Choosing a ‘red brick’ university was important to me.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

Reading is a great place to study. I liked the campus and its proximity to the town centre. Reading is also a multi-cultural and vibrant place, close enough to London to allow a wealth of opportunities for entertainment and job prospects post graduation.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Fully embrace university life. Make the most of all the opportunities that university has to offer you including lectures, societies, sports, careers advice and networking. Plan for your future but don’t forget to enjoy the present. Three or four years at university is a great time to grow as individual and really discover who you are and where you’re going.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I now work for Rolls-Royce in Derby. I had to adapt my thinking in order to find a way into an engineering company from a distinctly different degree background. One thing I’ve learnt is that if you are determined to find what you know will suit you, there is always a way to get there.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

Seek networking opportunities and information wherever you can. Know who you are what your strengths and weaknesses are and where you want to get to. Remain humble yet determined. With a typical degree this sector should be a formality to join, with something a little different you’ll need to find a way to stand out.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

I spoke with the careers centre a number of times during and post my time at Reading. I discussed the different routes that graduates from my discipline had taken into different roles. Getting advice on assessment centres, interviews and ways of making your CV noticeable is invaluable; use it whilst it’s on your doorstep.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

Get out there! Don’t rest on your quest to secure the future you want for yourself. The power to succeed is in your hands so keep them busy searching for ways to improve. You might need to step outside your comfort zone sometimes but don’t be perturbed.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

Everyone will say to you that they miss University when they leave. I still think about the time I spent in Reading and what it has helped me achieve in both my personal and professional lives so far. My favourite memories are those in the sun on campus reading and spending time with friends. I also enjoyed all the philosophical debates often following lecturers back to their offices searching for more answers, it was great to be with so many free thinkers in the same place.

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