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The University of Southampton
ChemistryOur alumni

Hywel Evans MChem Chemistry with six month placement, 2015

Ale and Craft Beer Buyer, ASDA

Hywel Evans's Photo

Travelling over 5000 miles away to undertake cutting-edge research at the best public university in America was a truly unique and incredible experience

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?           

I chose to study at Southampton as it was one of the best universities in the UK for Chemistry and the prospect of being able to study abroad for six months as part of my degree was extremely exciting.

What were your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences)?

The best part of my time at Southampton was the opportunity to undertake my six months masters research placement at the University of California, Berkeley.  Travelling over 5000 miles away to undertake cutting-edge research at the best public university in America was a truly unique and incredible experience.  I made friends for life whilst living there and managed to do plenty of travelling around California, capitalising on my time on the West Coast.

What other activities did you take advantage of while at University?

Alongside my studies I also played intramural rugby and was the vice-captain for the Engineers rugby team (they had a better kit than the chemistry team).  This was a great way to make a whole new group of friends whilst also developing my rugby skills and fitness.

As mentioned above I also spent 6 months abroad as part of my degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

What did you enjoy most about your course?    

I most enjoyed the support which was always on offer.  There were so many lecturers who would always be willing to give up their time to talk through any problems I had.  It was great to know that support was at my fingertips whenever I needed it which I found extremely helpful.

What have been the highlights of your career to date? 

I joined ASDA on the trading graduate scheme and have enjoyed the quick progression that has come with it.  I was promoted to be the national ale and craft beer buyer for ASDA within 12 months of work.  I have massive autonomy on what is ranged in ASDA stores nationally and it is extremely exciting being part of such an engaging category.  I currently buy beer for a living… what is not to love?! 

How did your time at Southampton help you to grow as a person and help you get to where you are now?

Getting a good qualification from one of the UKs top universities definitely gave me a step up in my applications for jobs straight out of University.  I studied for a masters in Chemistry but when I realised my future did not lie within the field of Chemistry, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was extremely easy to find work outside of this.  Employers really valued the degree I had and the institution I studied at allowing me to be competitive when applying for jobs.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?              

When I started at Southampton I was extremely unsure as to what I wanted to do after university.  By focussing on building my skill-base and improving my CV I gave myself a broad platform in which to progress from.  My advice to any new student would be to always keep an open mind and seize any opportunities that come your way.  Of course your final grade and subject is of huge importance however University is so much more than that, there are so many parts of University life which increase your employability for when you leave.  Improving your employability as a person is key, whether that be through taking up leadership roles in organisations or just through building a wide friendship base to help your relationship building skills, throwing yourself into university life is essential to get the most out of your experience. 

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector?    

If you wish to work in retail it is essential you have a customer mind-set.  Approach any assessment centre or interview question by thinking about the customer and you will not go far wrong.

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