From Graduate to Mad Science Manager – An Interview

This post is an interview with Rachelle Briggs. I know Rachelle from my time at University. We were both on the same course and she was the Engineering Society President when I was briefly the Secretary. Rachelle graduated and went on to become a manager with Mad Science org. Not surprising, if you know her. I am glad she has given me this interview, as she is someone I can see going onto bigger and better positions in the industry.

mad science

Faizan: B.Eng and Manager straight out of uni! That is pretty amazing – how did it come about? Was it planned? 
Rachelle: Planned in that I was applying for jobs. I actually wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do after graduation but I knew I didn’t want to apply for any and all graduation schemes for the sake of it.

I wanted a job I liked and I wanted responsibility.

I was really interested in the MoD graduate scheme but that was essentially it so I applied to the MoD and then a manager position opened up at Mad Science. As I worked part-time at Mad Science running science after school clubs and birthday parties etc for primary kids for 2 years, I knew how the company worked and exactly what the job entails and I knew I would love going to work.

I got offered the MoD and the manager position about the same time and decided that although the MoD would be an amazing engineering opportunity, I didn’t want to be one of hundreds of graduates working alongside thousands of people in a job I might not even enjoy. At Mad Science I’m one of 2 managers in the Leicester branch and 1 of 6 in the entire company answering only to the MD’s.

It’s a job with a lot of responsibility and many different roles so I’m never bored! It was a fairly easy choice when it came down to it.

Faizan: That’s fantastic. MoD I was an admirer of their Engineering graduate scheme, unfortunately with my International Student status, I couldn’t make up my mind right!

Anyways, Were you involved in extra curricular activities whilst at University? Were they wide ranging and were they helpful? 
Rachelle: Yes, I enjoy being busy! Alongside my general Engineering degree I worked part-time, 2 – 3 afternoons a week running after school clubs.

I also volunteered at a local college mentoring GCSE girls through personal problems and school work. I had drum lessons, and of course, I was heavily involved in the Engineering Society from first year as Events Manager, second year Social Secretary and third year President.

Everything I did at uni helped me develop skills for the workplace, skills that aren’t often gained through simply doing a degree. Everyone has “very good organisational skills” or “very good communication skills” but it doesn’t mean anything unless you can back it up with proof of how and where you’ve learnt and developed these attributes.

According to reports there are at least 10 other people applying for a position and they’ll all say exactly the same thing on their CV but only the people who can actually prove they are capable will get the job.

A degree is no longer enough. When looking for jobs I was told more than once that I may as well not put my degree on my CV when applying for graduate schemes – they know you’ve got a degree because you’re applying to the graduate scheme in the first place! It’s everything else that matters.

Faizan: That is very true. I often stress in my posts that students HAVE to get some sort of work experience under their belt! What’s it like to work at Mad Science and what are the requirements to get a job?
Rachelle: It’s tough but worth it! Mad Science is a company that delivers interactive and exciting science clubs, in-school workshops and birthday parties etc. for primary children getting them inspired and involved in science. Working for the company as a part-time presenter before becoming a manager meant I mostly knew what I was in for.

As a manager, it’s my job to keep the Leicester branch of Mad Science East Midlands running. We do a lot of sales – making bookings with schools, without this there would be no work for the staff so no income for the business. We deliver assemblies and stage shows in schools that need to be amazing enough to generate interest and income. I keep all of our kits up-to-date and the stock levels up. Make sure all of our staff are in the right place at the right time with the right kit. Develop our kits and research experiments that we can do in schools with relevant science information.

I’ve started projects such as looking at social media marketing and how we can use social media in the most effective way. I’ve also focused on Special Education Needs as a lot of what we do brings so much to children with special needs.

Faizan: Any advice or key points you want to offer current graduates and students? 
Rachelle: Only that if you wouldn’t pay thousands of pounds to get a degree you’re not interested in, then why apply for jobs that earn you thousands of pounds for something you’re not interested in? Figure out what you enjoy, what you want out of a job and then research careers you can follow that incorporate this. Employers will sense your enthusiasm and confidence! Unless, of course, money is all you want!

Faizan: Thanks for the interview Rachelle. I wish you good luck in your future endeavours and hopefully as you climb positions I can still get an odd interview for our readers 🙂