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James Sheehy

When James Sheehy helped to triple the sales target at his placement firm, the offer of a job on graduation was quick to follow.

Twenty-two-year-old James, from Bromsgrove, spent a year on a work placement with Air Technology Systems, the UK market leader in industrial ventilation solutions, before his third year of university.

After being set a target of £1 million of sales James and Kevin Gillen, the National Sales Manager, achieved £3.4 million.

James said: “To have assisted Kevin in exceeding the target by 200% made me look good. As a result I was offered a full time job after I finished my studies.”

James joined the University of Worcester in 2007 and admitted that he was attracted to the opportunity of a work placement.

“I always wanted to work in sales and marketing but thought I would do a general business degree to keep my options open,” he said. “Worcester was the only place I applied to because I knew I wanted to come here and that I would get a valuable degree and the opportunity to do a work placement, something which the University of Worcester place great emphasis on. In today’s extremely competitive graduate job market, I knew that I needed more than just a degree if I was to secure a good career.”

James started his work experience at Air Technology Systems in July 2009. Admittedly knowing very little about engineering heating and ventilation, James shadowed the National Sales Manager and a previous work placement student before going onto the role of Sales and Marketing Assistant.

“It was a steep learning curve,” he said. “I learned on the job in a fast-paced environment looking for sales leads, developing marketing material, managing the advertising budget and sustaining relationships with clients and suppliers. I was also able to enhance my general employability skills such as communication, teamwork and decision-making.”

He added: “The placement was invaluable. There are things you learn in university that you can put into practice such as the application of business theories and models, but there are some aspects that can’t be taught in a lecture theatre such as managing office politics, general business awareness and the ability to work as part of a team; I was only able to appreciate and develop these skills from the real-life work experience.”

Air Technology Systems gave James an end of year bonus upon completing the placement due to his sales success. The company also paid for all of his final year books, and he was offered a full time position after he completed his studies, in which he achieved a First Class Business Management degree.

“Knowing that I had the guarantee of a full-time job at the end of university meant that I was able to concentrate 100% on my final year modules, allowing me to achieve the best results that I could, showing another benefit of undertaking a work placement,” he said.