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This month, Ulster University alumnus, John Ferris answers questions from Enterprise Placement Year students.

Instead of undertaking an industry-based placement in the third year of their degree, EPY students choose instead to set up a company, social enterprise, operate as a sole trader or provide consultancy services on a freelance basis.

As self-employed professionals they receive dedicated individual support from the University’s Enterprise Team and undergo a programme of workshops, networking events, peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and a Diploma in Professional Practice.

John is Regional Ecosystems Manager (Entrepreneurship) at Ulster Bank and has recently taken up the post of Dealmaker for Northern Ireland at the Department for International Trade.

To date John has worked with more than 700 UK and Irish entrepreneurs and helps both startup companies and businesses aiming to scale up and fulfil their potential. Through coaching and mentoring the entrepreneurs, John has helped them create 1,000 jobs and more than £35m in funding.

Previously he spent 15 years working in the media industry in Belfast and the US before a rollercoaster three-year journey bootstrapping a tech business.

We also have an amazing Student & Graduate Enterprise team ready to offer their support to our students and graduates. You can get in contact with them at

We’re always on the lookout for interesting graduate stories, interviews and thought leadership features, so if you would like to share your journey since graduating, get in touch at