Boot camp gets UCL graduate in shape for his chosen career

22 November 2012

Languages graduate Ed Hammerton was concerned about his job prospects during a recession, until he attended a three-day boot camp run by UCL Advances which taught him, through action learning using real-world examples of business problems and solutions, “how to spot business opportunities and act on them.”

That led to a three-month internship at media giant Thomson Reuters, which in turn became a year-long contract. He now works for communications agency Columns Design, “doing what I’ve always wanted to do,” he says, thanks to UCL Advances, “a bit of luck and hard graft.”


After graduating with a BA in French and German during a recession, Ed Hammerton thought that finding any job – much less one in his preferred field of marketing and communications – would be a nightmare. Then he responded to an email from UCL Advances, inviting him to attend a three-day Enterprise Boot Camp, which introduces students to the fundamentals of the business world. Ed expected the course to be classroom-based – “a sort of condensed Business Studies course”, he says – but instead found the course to be a lot more inspired, adding, “It shows you how to spot business opportunities and act on them.”

Dr David Chapman, course director of the MSc Technology Entrepreneurship and one of the boot camp presenters, says: “We aim to increase students’ business ‘literacy’, to teach them the language of business so that they are able to have a more commercial conversation with potential employers. Like Ed, most attendees don’t have a background in business or finance, and we find ourselves discussing, say, the development of a new retail product with graduates in subjects ranging from anthropology to zoology. Each brings something fresh to the debate.”

Ed found the way the boot camp was structured – action learning, in small groups, using real-world business examples – gave him confidence in pitching his ideas, such as one which suggested how to generate value out of old technology through recycling and waste management, voted the best solution. As a result of his success at the boot camp he found a summer internship, arranged through UCL Advances, with global media organisation Thomson Reuters.

Ed worked in marketing, where he was given a lot of responsibility, setting up and promoting a ‘think tank’ launched jointly with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and liaising with representatives from Shell, British Gas and Cisco. At the end of his placement he was offered a 12-month contract. He is now “where I’ve always wanted to be, doing what I’ve always wanted to do,” he says, at Covent Garden-based creative communications agency Columns Design. He adds: “A bit of luck and hard graft turned into a full-time job. Many students graduate with a desire do something impressive. UCL Advances’ Boot Camp helps turn that dormant energy into something kinetic.”

It works to support start-ups and small businesses across London by helping them to access the technical and business expertise of UCL’s staff and students through a series of programmes to help support ambitious young companies.