A’ levels in Dance, PE, and Media lead to a first-class honours Tech Industry Gold accredited degree


This summer we caught up with Sarah Willis, first-class honours degree graduate, from Loughborough University. Her arts-based A’ levels didn’t stop her studying for a Tech Industry Gold degree.

What made you decide to study for the Tech Industry Gold accredited degree?

I’ve always had a great passion for business and IT. I knew I wanted to study at Loughborough University, but it was my dad who encouraged me to listen to a talk about the Tech Industry Gold degree. As the curriculum is aligned with what employers want and offers both business and computing modules was right for me. The guru lectures (now known as industry insights) would also give me a fantastic opportunity to network and hear from top employers on trending topics in the industry.

What were the highlights?

The two highlights of the degree were the IBM masterclasses and the Tech Partnership Degrees’ South event.

IBM masterclasses are a fantastic opportunity for students to meet and take part in workshops. A stand out time for me was working with IBM.

The Tech Partnership Degrees’ South event was another highlight. This is a bi-annual event (the other being held in the North) exclusively for Tech Industry Gold undergraduates. These events comprise competitions between universities, networking with employers, and hearing inspirational speakers from industry. This event was stimulating and a fantastic opportunity to meet senior business people and gain deeper insights into the tech industry.

What were the challenges?

As I have A-levels in Dance, PE, and Media, I didn’t have the technical skills compared to other students who completed a maths or science A level. I did find studying coding and business models challenging. However, this encouraged me to work harder with the amazing support of my lecturers at Loughborough University. I achieved a first-class honours degree. No matter what you study before university, shouldn’t stop you from choosing a fantastic degree, offering unrivalled opportunities.

Congratulations on your first-class honours degree! What did you need to do to go the extra mile to achieve this amazing result?

Work work work! Sometimes I had to make sacrifices and work a bit harder, but it was important to enjoy myself too! Completing a placement year really helped me get into a routine of getting up early and working for longer, which created the structure I needed for my final year.

How did you make contact with CA at the South Event and how did you manage to secure a placement position with them?

Throughout the course of my degree, CA had a presence, as they delivered industry insight talks to all the undergrads. I was looking for a placement, like thousands of other students, so it was very competitive. The Tech Partnership Degrees’ South Event was coming up and CA was visiting the university. I grabbed the opportunity to speak to their current intern and find out about what roles were available. She suggested that I came along to the Tech Partnership Degrees’ South event where I could get to meet her manager. In the run-up to the event, I researched the company and arrived fully armed with an up-to-date CV and cover letter. I managed to get through two interviews and an assessment. I was then offered the job.

I was told the reason why I got the role was that my enthusiasm and passion for technology and company knowledge shone through, and I was a great fit for the company. Without going to the Tech Partnership Degrees’ event and introducing myself to the CA employees, the process would have been a lot harder. Networking and making connections put me in a good position.

The best thing I learned from this process is the importance of networking wherever you are.

What was your year placement like at CA?

AMAZING. I had the most incredible experience working in several roles. CA offered a general business role where I was given the opportunity to experience marketing, communications, HR, and Sales. The range of roles gave me a wide understanding of how all the departments worked together. I was also lucky enough to travel to Spain, France, and Switzerland in the space of three months. Everyone was really friendly, and I didn’t want to leave.

What would you suggest to someone thinking about studying for a Tech Industry Gold degree course?

Tech Industry Gold degrees equip students with the most relevant academic learning, alongside the technical, business and interpersonal skills that will place graduates in high demand in the tech sector.

If you want to jump-start your career and quickly start climbing the career ladder, then Tech Industry Gold degrees are perfect for you.

Why would you specifically recommend Loughborough to someone wanting to study for Tech Industry Gold accredited degree?

Loughborough is a fantastic university which encourages you to go from strength-to-strength. With its fantastic network of employers, Loughborough offers unrivalled opportunities to network and gain a step up, especially in the tech industry. Furthermore, the halls experience is fantastic, and freshers are the best two weeks, where you make friends for life. Loughborough offers the perfect balance between lectures and personal study time, with a great students’ union hosting multiple events during the week where you can let off some steam on the dance floor! Loughborough also offers the best sports facilities and the opportunity to take part in competitions in multiple sports throughout the year, which is another great way to meet new people.

How has Tech Partnership Degrees helped you in your journey?

Tech Partnership Degrees has helped me massively. It has given me a fantastic insight into practical subjects which I can apply to my future career.

What are your summer plans and career plans for the future?

My summer plan is to enjoy my time off. It’s the longest time I will have off before I start working so I’m making the most of it. I’ve just been to Thailand with some friends and I visited Crete for a week. I’m also going away with my family for a few weeks to make the most of this long summer.

In September, I will be starting my graduate job at Microsoft.

Meet the Class of 2019 and find out more about Tech Industry Gold degrees

Find out more about IT Management for Business BSc/MSci (ITMB) at Loughborough University