AN INNOVATIVE graduate programme is helping Bangor University alumni on the road to their chosen careers.

The University’s Higher Education Funding Council for Wales-funded (HEFCW) Graduate Support Programme has helped more than 120 former students in the last two years, almost double its initial target.

Offering employability guidance and advice, as well as financial contributions towards relevant workshops and training, the bespoke scheme has supplied dozens of higher education (HE) leavers with invaluable, tailored packages of support during that time.

Among those to have benefited is 24 year-old Ian Brown, from Borth y Gest near Porthmadog, a graduate in Sport and Exercise Science.

On leaving Bangor last year, Ian pursued his dream to work in coaching and sports analysis but met with barriers and obstacles due to his lack of experience.

With the help of Graduate Support Programme Manager Sian Shepherd, he received tips on CV writing, interview techniques and – given the University’s strong partnerships nationwide – was able to secure a six-month internship with Always Aim High Events in Llangefni, where he now has a permanent role.

“It’s that age old problem, you need experience to get certain roles but obviously need someone to give you that experience, it’s a vicious cycle,” said Ian, an ex-pupil of Ysgol Eifionydd Secondary School.

“Sports and coaching are very competitive industries, so I was finding it difficult to find opportunities, which is why I turned to the Graduate Support Programme at Bangor University.

“I can’t thank Sian and the team enough, they were so supportive and helped build my confidence in going forward and trying for jobs, including the position with Always Aim High.

“I’ve loved it and had the chance to work in different parts of the organisation, from marketing to event delivery, which has been fantastic and gives me vital experience.

“I would encourage any former student to take that route if they are struggling to make that next step, I can’t thank them enough.”

Founded in 2010, Always Aim High specialises in a wide range of events, from open-air triathlons and duathlons to cycle sportives and running races.

Marketing Manager Emma McIntyre says their own graduate scheme has allowed them to offer young people like Ian a pathway into the sector.

“We met with Ian and could see instantly that he would be a great fit for the company, given his passion for sport,” she said.

“The value of the internship has not only been great for us as a small business but has also been a great way for us to give something back. Helping graduates build up their work experience which we know is so vital to help them progress with their future careers.”

In all, the Graduate Support Programme at Bangor University assisted 124 alumni, 92 of which were from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. More than 60% of those who engaged with the scheme are now in graduate level employment, and of the 42 businesses that engaged with the project, 100% of them said they would do so again.

Sian said Ian’s story is all too common and was delighted to be able to help him on the road to his dream job.

“We are so pleased for Ian and wish him every success, he has the drive and passion to reach his goals so hopefully this placement will lay the foundations for a career in the sports and coaching industry,” she added.

“It’s important we get the message out there to our graduates that we are here for you even after you’ve left Bangor University.

“We have relationships in place – in Wales and beyond – that can help you get to where you want to be, as well as free guidance and advice.

“Ian is an example of how pivotal that support can be, and we wish him every success for the future.”

Visit www.bangor.ac.uk/skills-and-employability for more on Graduate Support and Alumni services at Bangor University.

For the latest news and information from Always Aim High Events, visit the website: www.alwaysaimhighevents.com.