A student has told how City and Islington College (CANDI) gave him the chance to achieve his ambition of going to university after he was rejected by more than a dozen other colleges.
Eman Ahamed, 20, is studying for an MEng Mathematical Computation at Imperial College London after achieving A* grades in Maths and Further Maths and an A in Computer Science in his A Levels last summer.
He recalled how he persuaded his future maths teacher at CANDI to test his ability when he came to enrol at the college’s Sixth Form College in Angel in August 2019.
Eman had been turned down by 16 colleges and sixth forms to study A Levels because he did not have five 9-4 grades at GCSE despite passes in English and Maths and other qualifications.
“I was about to give up, and then I came to CANDI. I explained my situation and asked him to give me a test and a chance to prove myself,” he said.
“I scored 100 per cent. He was clearly impressed and asked if I also wanted to do Further Maths. He tested me again and I got 100 per cent in that as well. “
Eman, from Tower Hamlets, also passed a computing test and was offered a place at CANDI.
He retook his GCSEs in English and Maths during his first year of A Levels and increased his grades to 6 and 9 respectively.
Eman’s family moved from Bangladesh to Italy when he was three and remained there until he finished primary school before returning to Bangladesh where he learnt English at school.
While at CANDI he took part in mentoring programmes with Lloyds and an investment bank Macquarie and also gained work experience at Google and Facebook.
“I’m really grateful to CANDI because they treated me as an individual and not as a just a statistic. From the moment they gave me a chance, I knew I had to take it,” said Eman.
“From the day I enrolled I received huge support from my teachers. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be at university right now and it would’ve been a completely different story.”
City and Islington College’s Careers Service provides a wealth of information, support and guidance whether you’re looking to go to university or get into work. A Level student Lale Hanalp, 17, explains how the service has helped her gain new skills and boosted her prospects.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am studying A Levels in Politics, Psychology and English Literature. I hope to go on to university and study law and eventually become a corporate lawyer. I am interested in politics and current affairs, enjoy reading psychological thrillers and like watching true-crime documentaries and reality TV. At CANDI, I am also the Student Careers Journalist for the college’s Get Ahead newsletter.
Did you know much about how to get into your chosen career before you spoke to the Careers Service?
No, not really. I had a general idea of what kind of career I would like to go into, but I wasn’t aware of what I needed to do and how to go that extra mile to get there.
How has the Careers Services team’s knowledge and expertise helped you plan for your future?
The careers advisers guided me through all my options and the best steps you need to take to get there. They were very helpful and gave their honest opinion for me to make the best decisions to better myself. They’ve provided amazing opportunities to gain insight and experience with employers and offered support with writing CVs and personal statements.
What activities and events have the Careers Service put on that have helped you?
One of the opportunities presented to me was Career Ready, a national charity that works with employers and colleges to support young people get skills for their careers. You’re paired with a business mentor according to your career ambitions, to develop your skills and experience. I was placed with a corporate solicitor who gave me a professional view and new perspectives on what the job involves and helped me with setting my career goals.
The Careers Service also runs a group called Legal Action, which has included sessions with universities, law firms and other organisations. We’ve had a visit by The University of Law about types of legal professions and a talk by a student studying intellectual property law. There have also been careers days with international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills about its five-year Network Scholars Programme, and with Banks & Partners Solicitors about criminal law. We’ve also heard from the Met Police about getting into the policing and from UCL on law degrees.
Tell us how one of these activities has helped develop you personally.
I have applied to be part of the Herbert Smith Freehills Networked Scholarship Scheme. It really piqued my interest because I know it would be an incredible experience that I would benefit from. Being a mentee for an employee at the law firm, I will be able to get extensive advice on what to do and support with my upcoming decisions to help me map my future out more clearly.
I recently took part in activities as part of a careers day hosted by the firm about the scheme, that also included activities to improve teamwork and leadership skills and build our confidence. This included being part of a group defending an employee in a hypothetical unfair dismissal case study where I gave the closing statement. This is not something I would normally do, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and now feel more inclined to speak out in future. There was also a networking experience where employees circled the room and talked to us to develop our communication skills.
Tell us about your role as Student Careers Journalist for the Get Ahead newsletter
This role came about after a discussion with my careers advisor, about how I could gain more experience and help other students by giving them a peer’s perspective. I have written articles on websites to help students my own age find out more about different career paths and promote the opportunities offered by the Careers Service. We hope to get students at Capital City College Group’s other colleges to be ambassadors for their careers service.
Why should students take advantage of the Careers Service and what it offers?
Getting involved in the huge range of activities offered by the Careers Service gives you a real sense of achievement and is a great boost to your confidence. It also shows future employers that you care and are passionate about work and your future job prospects.
What advice would you give to students looking for career advice?
Widen your knowledge on the types of careers you want to do. You might be surprised by the jobs that match your skills and interests. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and choose opportunities the college offers that may not be directly linked to what you want to do in the future. You’re still gaining experience and refining key skills.