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Becky Downes

Head of HR Recruitment, Distinct RecruitmentBecky Downes

BA Drama, performing Arts and Theatre Studies, 2008

What made you choose to study at Middlesex University?

The diversity of the course was fantastic with it encompassing Drama, Performing Arts and Theatre studies. I had heard great things about the course and university and was really impressed with the University itself, the environment and surroundings when I attended my audition. I also really liked the people that I met; both students and staff and loved the idea of living in London as it is somewhere I have always loved visiting.

What course did you study and what attracted you to that course?

I studied BA Drama, performing Arts and Theatre Studies and was drawn to it due to the diversity that it offered. Many of the other Universities and Drama schools that I looked at were much more specific covering just one area. This particular course offered a diverse range of modules enabling me to study something I really loved whilst also broadening my skills and breadth in the subject.

What was the most interesting/influential/important thing that you learned during your course?

The course itself was very strict when it came to attendance; if you missed any more than two lectures/classes without a doctor’s consent note then you were dismissed from the course. I must admit; I have never spoken to anyone else who attended a University with such strict rules, however I do think it had a number of positive outcomes as a result. It taught me a lot about commitment and discipline which has definitely impacted on my working life since and I am a firm believer that if you work hard; the results will follow. The only restriction is your mind.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Enjoy every moment of your time at Middlesex because you will truly miss it when it comes to an end. Prepare yourself for what is going to be an exciting and at times, tough journey. You will work hard, play hard and will meet some amazing people along the way.

How do you think your time at Middlesex has prepared you for your career?

Before I went to Middlesex, I was massively lacking in confidence and arguably the confidence that I gained in my time there was the biggest gain for me. I opted to study the ‘Stand-up comedy’ module in my final year and although the final performance was without a doubt the most terrifying thing I had done; I always look back on that moment fondly and think ‘if i can do that, I can do anything’. It has helped me to confront my fears and not give up.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

I applied for a temporary role after finishing at Middlesex and moving back to Nottingham. It was working for Virgin Media within Accounts payable and Credit Control and my manager offered me a permanent position after a couple of weeks. For two years I worked in that role in the day and spent many of my evenings and weekends working in a bar and as a drama teacher for the Lace Market theatre on a voluntary basis teaching secondary school kids.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

It has to be the day I was told I was being made redundant from Virgin Media. It was without a doubt the best thing to happen to me. I had got stuck in a rut doing a job that I didn't really enjoy anymore; anyone that knows me will tell you that my strengths are most definitely not with numbers! However I was working with a great team of people and had got complacent! Redundancy forced me to think about my career and what I wanted going forwards which led me in to the world of recruitment and I have never looked back!

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

  1. That saying ‘By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’ is so true. Always prepare - it proves your commitment and dedication to a potential/current employer and will only stand you in better stead.
  2. Never stop asking questions and seeking advice from those around you; it will aid your development and further your knowledge.
  3. Don’t give up! The best things in life don’t come easy and are worth fighting for.

What skills have been most valuable in your career so far and how have you developed these?

  • People and relationship building skills I think these have been by far the most valuable as they have applied to any job I have had throughout my career to date from working within a bakery to finance to my role now within recruitment. They have been imperative to my current role both in building relationships with my colleagues within the business and externally with our customers.
  • Resilience - Any career will have its high and its lows and remaining resilient is a key to success. We all make mistakes however they are huge stepping stones to your learning.
  • Time management skills - This is something that has taken me a long time to develop and I think I will continue to improve these throughout my career but the art of time management is a great thing to master; it can ensure that you work smartly and it can ease a lot of headaches and reduce stress. I now pride myself on not leaving the office until I have written my action plan for the following day.

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