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Connor Vidal-Cocker (BSc Mathematics) is now in his final year of studies, with a job already lined up after graduation.

Connor was awarded the Mathematics, Economics and Finance Undergraduate of the Year at the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year awards in 2017, a prestigious national award. As a prize for winning the award, Connor completed a 10 week work placement in Gazprom's marketing and trading team, including spending one week at the company's Singapore branch.

WHY READING?

"The University of Reading has the best campus in the UK in my opinion. The open green space really helps you to relax between lectures. It didn't get voted one of the top ten green spaces in the UK for no reason, it even has its own lakes with a large variety of geese and ducks, so in the spring time the ducklings really do raise your mood!"

Connor found the maths department engaging and adapted his course to suit his interests; in his final year, he has particularly enjoyed the 'Mathematical biology' module taught by Dr Marcus Tindal and the module on 'Multivariate data analysis' co-taught by Dr Karen Ayres and Mrs Hannah Fairbanks.

"The maths department is really supportive, each and every lecturer is passionate about what they teach and the work they do. They engage with the students whenever possible, and are always more than happy to help."

UNDERGRADUATE OF THE YEAR AWARD

Supported by the department, Connor applied to the Undergraduate of the Year award. He went through a rigorous three-stage assessment process consisting of an initial application, thorough online tests, and an in-person assessment with Gazprom.

"Winning the award was a fantastic experience. It is something I never expected to happen and still nearly a year later it hasn't quite sunk in. It also pays tribute to the work done by the University as without it there is no way I would have been able to demonstrate the skills required in the competition. It really has enhanced my CV and I feel it makes me stand out in a pool of applicants. It is a fantastic opportunity to gain some national recognition for your work and the skills you have developed!"

DEVELOPING PROFESSIONAL SKILLS

During Connor's time working with Gazprom Marketing and Trading, he was given a variety of separate tasks which all helped him to develop a wide range of skills.

"As it was my first time working within industry I had a lot to learn, and a lot of new skills to grasp. I shadowed the team assisting on the work with PSA reports, month end reconciliation and daily bank reconciliation amongst others. I developed my communication, analytical, and team working skills, as I often needed help to either start the task off or guidance with the technical specifications of the job."

SUPPORT FOR YOUR CAREER

Starting in September Connor will be working for Moore Stephens within their Corporate audit department, whilst working towards receiving his ACA accountancy qualifications. The careers support he received by the University and within the department ensured he felt prepared and confident throughout his job search.

Connor took the opportunity to engage with prospective employers whenever possible, including speaking with the Moore Stephens team at the University Careers Fair; the same team ran his assessment centre, and he also used the University's professional skills hub to practise for online tests and ran through practice interview questions with the department's dedicated placements officer.

"I always try to encourage people who enjoy working with numbers to carry on working with them as they open so many doors. So many graduate jobs are interested in the skills that you develop during your time with a maths degree and the staff within the maths department do their best to help you whenever they can."

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