Having completed her BSc Mathematics at the University of Reading, Alice Winduss attained a role in the University's Planning & Strategy Office.
“The Planning & Strategy Office provides complex information and analysis to the University. We conduct a wide range of strategic planning and reporting. The role allows me to develop and apply the numerical, analysis, data manipulation and statistics skills that I gained in my degree.”
Developing professional skills
As she engaged with her new role at the University, Alice reaped the benefits of her placement year at PRA Health Sciences - one of the Contract Research Organisations based in Reading, running clinical trials on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.
“When starting the role in the Planning & Strategy Office it was a great benefit having already experienced a professional working environment. During my placement, I learned many skills that transferred to my current role. As a Project Finance Analyst, I was tasked with managing the financial aspects of a number of clinical trials. This gave me confidence and strength when starting my career. It also added impetus and organisation to my third year; a placement gives context to your study.”
Maths as a career
Maths was always Alice's favourite subject at school. She describes the satisfaction of the "right and wrong element to it - although it's not that black and white at a higher level." She relished the challenging, problem-solving aspect of her Maths degree.
"Maths is involved with everything. When I started my degree, I had no particular career in mind, but I knew how useful it could be in any field. I learnt a range of transferable skills that are very useful in my current role. It's encouraging that the subject is well-mixed in terms of gender at Reading. The lecturers are very engaging and passionate about their area."
Supporting the individual
Alice describes her experience of the University as "very supportive." She explains that she was encouraged to feel comfortable in her own learning style and feels this is a key feature of the University - that students can approach their studies in their own 'best' way.
"I am an independent worker, so I appreciated being left to get on with it. They are flexible like that - whatever is best for you! The Department provides lots of tutorials as well as support if you want it. They're so approachable; if I ever did have a problem, there was always someone to ask. There were lots of services on hand. In my second year, I also had strong support from the Placement Coordinator."
Alice took the Professional Skills module in her second year which helped with her CV, applications, and interview preparation. She particularly credits this and her statistics dissertation, which involved data analysis, manipulation, and research skills, with preparing her for her future career.
“I was able to pick the modules in my final year that focused on my particular interest in statistics. Staff in the Department were extremely approachable and academics passionate about their subject, which is inspiring.”
Well-rounded university life
Alice is enthusiastic about the sports and social opportunities at Reading. She was closely involved with the football and futsal teams and describes the groups of friends she made in the sports clubs as a great bonus of her university experience. She acted as social secretary for the women's football team in her second year.
"It massively contributed to my university experience on the social side. I met so many people! It was a really great break from studying. I also made very good use of the RUSU [Reading University Students' Union] social facilities, which were so good you almost didn't need to leave campus! But also having Reading town within walking distance is excellent.”
Why Reading was the right choice
“Reading is a very friendly and supportive place. People are approachable and the social life is really great; there are so many sports and clubs and I met a really diverse group of people here.”
When Alice visited the University during Open Day, several things struck her.
“The campus is great - I didn't visit any other university that had the same feel. I can see why it's won awards! The Department of Mathematics was extremely friendly and engaging and I knew I could put my trust in such a well-respected university. I loved the whole feel of the place; everything was so engaging.”