Guest post: An investment banking spring week at Barclays

Theodoros Georgiadis, a first year student on the Accounting and Finance programme at LUMS, gives an interesting insight into his experiences during his spring week placement at Barclays.

I applied for my Spring Week in the middle of my first term at LUMS and I am so glad I did as the experience gave me a huge insight into the world of banking and it positions me very well for next year. My week ran as follows:

Day 1:  We had a welcome session from senior people working in Barclays and started to gain our first insight into the financial markets. We were advised there would be lots of group work and, indeed, present a group project on our final day. Additionally, it was clear there would be lots of networking sessions with the opportunity to meet current employees across all sectors of Barclays and other Spring Interns from other departments with the prospect of making lots of new connections.

Day 2: I met my Barclays ‘buddy’ and would work shadow him throughout the week. As well as seeing his work, it was an opportunity to gain a personal opinion from someone currently working in the bank about ‘life at Barclays’. I also received an introduction and overview into the Barclaycard (credit card) division of Barclays. Indeed, most days, in my group, I received an introduction and overview on a different department.

Day 3: I was introduced to Barclays Wealth and Business Banking and had group project work to complete. Throughout the week there was a big emphasis on Barclays’ values which follow the acronym RISES: Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence, Stewardship. Clearly the Bank wants employees who can truly embrace and fit into the Barclays culture.

Day 4: An insight into Corporate Banking and Consumer Banking and further group project work.

Day 5: I had the opportunity to get involved in some filming in a digital studio all targeting  next year’s candidates applying for the Barclays Spring Week programme. I never imagined that media and marketing played such a big part within Investment Banking; I thought it was all about finance!

Importantly, also on the final day, I had an interview, CV guidance and a discussion about which division I wished to apply to for a summer internship next year. Depending on what you want to do, if your interviews go well soon after the Spring Week, a candidate can be offered a 2nd year summer internship even though he/she is still in their first year at LUMS! Indeed, I now have an interview next week for a 2nd year summer internship in Barclays Wealth Management. If I secure this position, this is the dream scenario to be in and one of the big attractions of Spring Weeks.

Finally, we presented our group project to senior employees of the bank – a nerve wracking but thrilling experience. We had been tasked to come up with a new initiative so that Barclays can attract more 18-24 year olds. We focused on the student market with a ‘Barclays Scholar Account’ concept.

Reflecting on the week, I was able to gather a lot of information on the different business divisions and associated career paths at Barclays; everything from Investment Banking, Wealth Management, Business Banking, Corporate Banking, Consumer Banking, Technology and Operations. There was the opportunity to meet new people, both from inside and outside of Barclays, as well as the opportunity to develop new skills particularly via the group tasks. Of course, I also have the 2nd year internship interview next week. The whole experience was hugely rewarding.

Guest post: My job application journey so far

Final year LUMS Accounting and Finance student Prithiv Ghosal shares his experiences of the financial services application processes and his journey so far as an international student. He also offers some excellent advice to those seeking employment in this sector.

Hi, I am a final year international student in Accounting and Finance at LUMS. I have previously interned with an Indian Investment Bank, PwC UK and will be interning further with the Financial Conduct Authority this summer. I would like to share my experience of applying to several organisations in the financial services area and getting through the application processes at PwC, Willis Towers Watson and the Financial Conduct Authority successfully. In my experience, most of these organisations have had a four-staged application process with an online application questionnaire, psychometric tests, telephone interview and assessment centre. In this article, I would like to focus on some of the most helpful resources I have used for my applications:

  • LUMS Careers Website: The careers website provides excellent resources to practice online psychometric tests of all types for free! Practice is the only trick to passing these tests. The quantitative reasoning tests I have given were never challenging in terms of mathematics techniques tested but mainly time pressured and logic driven.
  • Alumni: Many top employers will have university alumni working for them. I have found many of them keen to help and in an excellent position to guide me through every stage of the application. Many have even recently gone through the process themselves and are aware of the entire process and how to navigate through it. These people can be approached through LinkedIn or LUMS Careers.
  • Online Career Websites: Websites such as Glassdoors, WikiJobs and The Student Room can be invaluable resources to research application processes for most companies. These websites have students posting everything, from job reviews to help target and understand companies for applications to reviews about application process and frequently asked interview questions for telephone and video interviews.
  • Societies: LUIFS, Economics Society and several other management school societies organise events with firms ranging from HSBC, Deutsche Bank, PwC and EY to Accenture. These are fantastic opportunities to meet people from various  organisations in an informal environment and such meets are usually greatly appreciated when mentioned in application forms.
  • Financial Careers Coach: This special arrangement is available to LUMS students only. An experienced banker and careers coach holds mock assessment centres and other events throughout the year for students. Furthermore, his website, ‘Opening City Doors’ provides excellent application preparation advice, questions and even a regularly updated markets update for commercial awareness questions in interviews. The five-minute read can provide an excellent summary for any financial service interview and is easy to understand.
  • Society Experience: I cannot stress enough the importance of joining societies. My experience with LUIFS has helped me answer many difficult questions in interviews, has been looked upon favourably by employers and in masters applications and most importantly, has actually helped me grow tremendously, both professionally and personally.

Finally, I would strongly encourage any student targeting top financial services employers to start applying in September and October as most large employers start assessment centres by December. Furthermore, being an international student myself, I would strongly encourage others to apply to jobs and can say that plenty of opportunities are available as many top recruiters hire international students (usually clarified in the FAQ section of company careers website). Lastly, I would strongly advise a quality over quantity approach to applying. Having tried both for myself, I have found that speculative, unprepared applications seldom lead to success.

I wish you all the very best for your applications and am happy to be contacted regarding any questions regarding the organisations mentioned above.

 

Innovation Hackathon in Lancaster University

As an MSc student in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC), I got to explore several modules which related to technology and business. I also have the opportunity to choose optional modules based on my interest. For me personally, I am really interested in online marketing and innovation in IT to create better solution in business, and the module which answered my question for this is E-Marketing module.

Though this module is optional for ITMOC student, it is a mandatory module for MSc E-Business and Innovation student. Some Marketing Analytics students also took this class as an optional module, thus it is an amazing opportunity for me to know various insights about E-Marketing from students from different background. One of the most interesting parts about the class was the opportunity for students to join Innovation Hackathon, an intensive 2-day program where we had to solve a real-life business case with the opportunity to consult with and present to experts in the industry! The hackathon was held in March, I know it is a bit late for me to share the story here. Yet, I believe that the experience was really worth it and I might say that I learned a lot during the program. Hackathon itself is a word created from hack and marathon, an event where people work together and use technology to transform ideas into reality. We tried to solve the problem with the use of technology and the teams consisted of students from various background (IT, business, marketing, etc.).

The theme of the hackathon was Smart Park, where we had to create an IoT solution for the Lake District National Park. IoT stands for Internet of Things, a technology which optimises connected devices with the use of sensors to collect and exchange data. One of example of IoT is Smart Cities with connected traffic signals that monitor utility use or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied. Smartwatches or fitness bands to track steps or heartbeat while on a run for healthcare needs are also part of IoT technology.

During the hackathon, we had to propose the solution on how to make Lake District National Park… a Smart Park. Things that we need to remember was to create a simple, feasible and profitable solution while at the same time can give business values in a long run. All teams can explore the opportunity to solve the problem from various point-of-view. During the program, experts from IBM, Huawei and from Lake District will provide us with input throughout our brainstorming session. I might say that the program was superrrr intensive and stressful! We had to work with people from various background, listened to everyone’s opinion and we also need to satisfy business needs from the stakeholders in only 2 days!

At the end of the 2-days session, all 6 teams which participated in the hackathon needs to present the solution in front of the stakeholders. My team offered a solution to prevent and monitor erosion in Lake District National Park, we named it Smart Path.  This solution came up after we realised that Lake District needs to spent a lot of budget to maintain eroded path and it also can lead to damage and habitat loss. We offered a solution of IoT implementation to monitor and detect activities on the footpath and analytics will provide data about preventative steps to maintain footpath/recommendation on maintenance. After the presentation, we got some inputs from the experts and we believe it was really helpful.

To close the hackathon, the experts chose the winner. My team did not win the competition but the most important thing is that we learned a lot and got the opportunity to work in a challenging case 🙂 The team who won offered Smart Bicycle Path, a B2B solution which track bicycle movements around the park and then analyse the data to be sold to another business (i.e restaurants, insurance, etc.). On the other hand, the data also can be used by Lake District National Park to maintain and improve customers experience in the park.

Congrats for the winner!

The 2-days session was full of pressure and stress, but with the help from teammate and the experts we can delivered the result on time. Special thanks for Professor Juliana Sutanto (E-Marketing Course Convenor and MSc E-Business and Innovation) and Professor Edward Truch for the support. And of course thank you Lancaster University for the opportunity!

All Participants for Smart Park Hackathon

 

 

 

 

What is MSc Money, Banking and Finance?

Before the Easter, the taught modules in LUMS were almost finished. Therefore, I would like to share some experience and thoughts about the Money, Banking and Finance programme.

The first time I saw MBF, I was quite confused since I had no idea about what I would study in this programme. Besides, in other business schools, I normally found the programme call Banking and Finance. After two semesters studying, I would like to describe MBF as a comprehensive programme which includes the knowledge from the economic part and also the financial field.

MBF is a jointly taught programme since it has the modules from both accounting and finance department and economic department. In the past two semesters, there are 5 modules in each term, and the curriculum is well-organised. During the first term (Michaelmas Term), we only have compulsory modules, which are more like preparation courses. After that, you would know which direction you were good at and you could have a better choice of the optional modules in the second term. To be more specific about the modules, the two main things about all modules is Central Bank and other commercial banks. So in MBF, you would learn how do central bank and commercial banks work and what is the relationship between these two; finally how to control the risks during the working process. As I say, it is the combination of finance and economics. Firstly, the central bank needs to be responsible for the whole economic environment. Therefore, we learned the DSGE in Macroeconomics and know how the central bank set up the interest rate. Secondly, under the fierce competition of capital market, increasingly commercial banks expand their business to stock market. So we learned the operations of financial derivatives in order to control the risk of commercial banks. Thirdly, we would learn some corporate finance as well. It because the commercial banks would issue debt to firms, we need to know the risk of firms to distinguish whether finance this company. I would recommend the people who would like to work in banks and have finance and economic background to learn MBF as a master study.

Lastly, lets talk about the exams in MBF. Most of the modules in MBF are marked by the final big exams. So that sometimes you need to review 4 modules in one week and take 4 exams in the next week, which can be challenging if you are not prepared. In this case, here are some suggestions from my personal experience:

  • Firstly, before the revision, you should clearly know the range and the way of exams. Some exams may have 5 questions and you only need to choose 3 of them: in this situation, if your revision time was limited, you could only revise the lectures which you are familiar with (although it is definitely better to revise all of them).
  • Secondly, it is better to revise all modules in each day. If you focus on one module for few days, after that you may forget some of them.
  • Thirdly, it was suggested to us to take time at the beginning of each exam to just read the questions – this reading time is crucial, do not waste it! I still remember the first time when I was taking the exam, I tried to answer  questions during the reading time, although I was not writing anything. During the exam, I did so bad since I did not recognise which question was hard. I ended up missing the questions that I would have found easier, as I wasted too much time in the hard one! My experience is that the reading time is really important for you to make a whole plan of your exams.

End of Lent Term and Hey! It’s My First Spring!

As a postgraduate student, I really can’t describe how fast the time went by. It feels like yesterday I was excitingly starting my first day of the Masters orientation, but now 6 months has passed and it’s already the end of Lent term. During 6 months of study, I might say that I have learned a lot from the classes that I took. As I have a background in Information Technology and Management, I took the MSc in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC) at the Organisation, Work and Technology Department.

During my studies, I have learned many things including how IT can help organisations/businesses to reach their optimum competitive advantages and current trends in technology development. One of the most interesting courses that I took is IT and Digital Strategy where I learned about how IT can also bring harm to people if it is not being used properly: this effect is called the dark side of IT. One of the dark sides of IT is the stress which people can get if they get too much information from overflowing information from the internet or what we call technostress. Sometimes we feel that we can’t live without IT and work during the weekend or our leisure time! I can relate to this course a lot because somehow I feel that “yeahhhh, that’s totally happened to me all this time!” 😀 This course made me realise that we still have to use technology wisely even though it helps our life significantly.

After we ended the Lent Term, I believe that many of you will have numerous deadlines and exams after the Easter break. Me as well! It must be super stressful for many of us. To relieve this stress, I recommend that you look around our beautiful campus and see that spring has finally sprung!

As a student who comes from a tropical country with only 2 seasons (rainy season and not-so-rainy season :p), it’s really exciting for me to see how the flowers started to bloom beautifully after a long winter. I took many pictures because it’s also my first time to see cherry blossoms! Around Lancaster, you might see some cherry blossom trees and for me this kind of healed my stress.

During the spring, another difference that I feel is in terms of clothes because finally I can get rid of the fluffy and thick winter coats! The weather is also getting warmer as the sun shines more often, yet we also have to be ready for sudden rain because hey! It’s Lancaster 😀 Make sure to always check the weather forecast app on your phone to prepare for what clothes are suitable that day.

If you have some spare time, you might also try to travel somewhere outside Lancaster to refresh yourself after finishing the term and getting ready for assignments and exams. As for me, I write this post while I am on holiday in Greece. After I get back to the UK, I’ll be ready for all the deadlines! ;D

Don’t forget to relax and, to my fellow Postgraduate students, get ready for your dissertation. This too shall pass! 🙂 Stay healthy and happy during the break!

Guest post:Putting theory into practice

Nadeem Khan, a current student on the MA Human Resources and Consulting,  has already started putting the theory from the programme into practice, working with a bank in Pakistan. Here, he talks about how he applied what he has learnt so far on the programme.

Nadeem (far right) delivering the session for SBP in Pakistan.

Nadeem (far right) delivering the session for SBP in Pakistan.

As an HRD Consultant I had worked for several years prior to starting the programme. Before leaving Pakistan I had informed clients of my schedule during the programme and that I would be open for assignments during my winter break. The National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBF), a subsidiary of The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) wanted me to deliver a two-day learning intervention in December 2016 on ‘Building Dynamic Teams’. I believe this proved to be a great opportunity for me to put the theoretical frameworks and skills that I had learned from the programme into practice.

The design and dynamics module had prepared me early on to outline the structure and activities that were to be incorporated in the two-day learning intervention. I picked up lots of ideas and activities drawing from the coursework. As there were 18 individual contributors from teams from all branches of SBP, I also had to keep in mind learning from difference. The careers module played a significant role when it came to selecting the relevant content for the SBP intervention through its focus on communication and effective team dynamics.

The MA HRC is set in a way that I had the opportunity to both study and experience firsthand group structures and processes, feel the power dynamics and struggles in teams, live the communication patterns and decision making and experience team leadership on the programme. Therefore, when I was delivering the workshop I was able to share my experience of being in similar shoes to the participants, making my examples more credible and worthwhile.

Overall, the improved design, theoretical framework and quality content enabled me to score higher feedback than previous interventions I had facilitated at SBP.

Learning Opportunities at Lancaster University

Lancaster University Management School provides opportunities to learn outside of the conventional classroom based learning, creating a learning environment well suited to various styles of learner.

One such learning experience that I have taken part in during my second year of study is a management module, which involves working with a live client, to aid in resolving a real-world problem from the organisation.

The module is competitive from the beginning, with each group competing for their organisation of choice from a list of business (local and some further afield) who have partnered with the University to work with Management School students. This involves producing a ‘project bid’, in which the team must illustrate their understanding of their chosen client’s issues, as well as the team strengths to create an argument demonstrating why they should be allowed to work with the particular client. Once the bids have been evaluated, those who presented the strongest arguments are awarded the clients they requested to work with, and all other teams are allocated the remaining organisations.

Luckily for me, our project bid was strong enough to be awarded the client that we most wanted to work with. This was a small, local charity which meant our experience was very intensive and our involvement was perceived as being particularly important to the client.

Working with a charity was particularly rewarding, and a personal highlight was visiting the charity at the start of the module to learn more about the client. This was a great opportunity to speak to stakeholders and staff members to find out first hand important information about the problems faced. It was also great to be in a learning environment outside of University, in a real working environment and facing real organisational issues.

The project did not come without its challenges, though. An important part of the process for my group was to collect primary research, which involved approaching local people in the town centre. This proved to be more difficult than we had ever imagined, and encouraging people to speak to us wasn’t exactly easy!

The module runs over two terms, and is an intensive, hands on, real life experience. Working outside of the classroom acts as an opportunity to fully understand and experience the discrepancies between theory and practice, and understand the subject (in my case, management consultancy) in a much more in depth way compared to simply learning through lectures and seminars. Not only this, but this experience is a great CV booster – you can demonstrate real life skills working in a professional manner with genuine clients who have sought your help.

The assessment for this module involves an individual essay, which acts as an opportunity to reflect on the learning experience and how your understanding of the subject has changed with exposure to a real world consultancy issue. There is also a group report and presentation to the client, allowing you to showcase your hard work. The presentation is primarily for the client but moderated by the module tutors and lecturers, and therefore it really requires you to integrate your theoretical knowledge and practical experience in order to appeal to the different audiences.

I chose to study this module because I wanted to gain hands on experience whilst learning, and that is exactly what it provided. It truly is a one of a kind learning experience which inarguably throws you in at the deep end. Nevertheless, the experience is invaluable, providing real work experience and aiding in your academic study. It is an excellent opportunity to develop your interpersonal skills, and be able to show your understanding of a University subject in the real world.

The hunt for an internship

Internships are professional learning experiences that can help build career networks and contacts. Internships are usually aimed at undergraduate or graduate students, the position involves the intern working in an organization for a fixed period, usually three to six months, sometimes without pay, to gain work experience.

Typically, an undergraduate student taking a three-year degree will partake in a summer internship after their second year. When looking for an internship, it is important to make use of all available resources. There are many websites specifically dedicated to providing undergraduate students information about available internships.  These websites can be easily found with a Google search, the websites also have filtering tools where you can narrow down the internship opportunities available with your personal interest.

Be strategic when applying for these internships, as they are usually three months long so it’s important you enjoy working at the company and will learn from the activities involved with your role there. Search for companies or job roles that will assist you in your career path. Also, make use of the careers department at the university to help find an internship and help with every stage of the application process.

Paid internships are ideal, although you don’t have your degree yet, your time, skills and knowledge gained so far at university is valuable.  There are plenty of paid internships available, for a lot of these roles you will be involved with real work rather than just administrative tasks or running errands. If you can afford it, unpaid internships or volunteering can still be extremely beneficial experiences. You can get serious work experience, build a portfolio and establish a network of professional contacts which can help you after you graduate.

In a 2013 BBC article called ‘’Internships: The competitive world of work experience” by Lindsay Baker it was said that at the time competition had never been so fierce for internships. The article also included a quote by Pullin of milkround.com, a website specialising in opportunities for young people. He estimated that for the most popular sectors such as: IT, marketing, and business – there are at least 100 applicants per internship.

It goes without saying that these internship applications should be taken as serious as applying for a real job, like you will be doing once you graduate. It is therefore pivotal to do your research on the company, they want to know why you have chosen them and why they should choose you. It can be tempting to use the same generic answers for each application but taking the time out to learn more about the company and submitting a bespoke application specific to them will help you stand out.

“After carefully considering your responses, unfortunately on this occasion we will not be progressing your application.”

Some of us are familiar with the dreaded automated message above, finding out all out time and effort have been to no avail. The average student goes through several different applications before they are successful. These applications are extremely lengthy and can be quite tedious. It can also be discouraging when you have passed through many of the application stages but fail to pass the final stage, it’s a case of so close, yet so far. The optimistic way to look at these unsuccessful applications is that they are good experience that you can learn from for the next application, so don’t give up.

Some companies do not give feedback for on an unsuccessful application, especially in the initial stages, in this case do not hesitate to contact them and request feedback, doesn’t hurt to try. Most companies however provide feedback for applicants who become unsuccessful after the online ability tests/assessment tests stage, for example a Numerical Reasoning Test Feedback Report, which may tell you your score on the test and some actions to improve in the future.  They can also send you a Candidate Feedback Report which will include your strengths and weaknesses in each test. It can be useful to the read this feedback and if you agree with their criticism, work on a plan to improve your performance on these tests.

Also, note that companies have numerous opportunities for undergraduate students so if you weren’t successful in a programme, maybe there’s another one that you’re better suited for. Good luck on the applications!

Management Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2017

Having just received an email confirming that I had made it to the assessment centre stage of the Management Undergraduate of the Year 2017 awards, I thought it was definitely worth sharing my experiences.

Stage 1: Online Application 

I’m someone who’s very organised. I check my emails every day and always take note of the interesting things that I can be doing outside of my degree. However, I must admit that if you had asked me 6 months ago whether I could see myself applying for the Management Undergraduate of the Year awards, then I probably would have raised my eyebrows at you. I looked at the email sitting in my inbox and deliberated over it for a while. I knew that it would be a great addition to my CV, but I was unsure how far I would get through the process. After debating over it for a few days I decided that I would have nothing to lose by applying for it, plus, the fact that it was sponsored by Enterprise Rent- A – Car would give me some brilliant opportunities for networking, and would be a great experience of putting myself in front of a graduate employer- the fact that they were TargetJobs Graduate Employer of the Year 2016 was an added bonus.

After getting over the initial nerves of applying I had to go through the online application process. This involved filling out all the usual information such as grades and personal information, but also included some scenario-based questions. This was the time when I was really glad that I had got so involved with societies and other activities outside of my degree as it gave me an opportunity to use these as examples of the times that I had demonstrated the competencies that they were assessing. The online application stage also included a verbal reasoning test and a numerical based test, which is something that I have always struggled with, but I buckled down and managed to complete it.

After completing the online application I had to sit and wait for approximately 2 weeks to find out if I had been successful in this stage of the application. I was amazed when the email dropped into my inbox and the talent acquisition director  told me that I had made it into the Top 50, from a pool of over 200 applicants. The news was such a shock to me as I never thought I would get past the first stage.

Stage 2: Telephone Interview

Having made it through the first stage, the next stage was to be a telephone interview conducted with the Talent Acquisition Director at Enterprise. In this interview, I was asked why I applied for the award, what surprised me about  Enterprise and once again asked to describe situations where I have demonstrated key skills that a manager should demonstrate.

Given that this was the first graduate job style interview that I had undertaken, I was somewhat nervous. I was watching the clock like a hawk waiting for the phone to ring. When it did I took a deep breath and the interview seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. I answered all his questions as clearly as I could, making a note to mention the research that I had done into the company (A really vital thing to do in any job application process), discussing how impressed I was with the 37 various awards that Enterprise has won. We also discussed the extra curricular activities that I do outside of my degree, and he seemed fairly impressed with my involvement with 4 societies and having 2 part time jobs.

At the end of the interview he asked me why I thought I should get through to the assessment centre stage. I told him how I was really passionate about the company, and how I really thought the opportunity to demonstrate my skills physically as well as verbally would be valuable.  He told me that he would be in touch within the next couple of days to let me know whether I had been successful in getting through to the final stage.

Those next two days were the most agonising I have ever experienced. Even though I had only applied for the award without much anticipation to get very far, I now had a vested interest in my success. When checked my emails a couple of days after, I was thrilled to find that I had been invited to the assessment centre. Words couldn’t describe how happy I was, as not only was this the first time I had applied for something of this calibre and done well, going from being within the 200 applicants to being in the top 30 candidates within the entire UK was something that I was so impressed with.

Stage 3: Assessment Centre

With the end of this month heralding the assessment centre, I am fully prepared to make the best impression I possibly can on the assessors. Regardless of whether I get through to the final though, what this process has taught me above anything else is that I should push myself into doing things that I would not normally do, as who knows where it may lead me.

Self-discipline

I briefly mentioned in one of my previous blog-posts about budgeting the idea of Adulting. I expressed that University is an opportunity to become independent and begin adulating.  The term adulting can be found in the urban dictionary, it is essentially the process of becoming an adult by behaving like an adult, to do the things that adults regularly have to do. I also mentioned the new financial responsibilities students have to take on at university which prepares them for adult life, such as: budgeting, paying their rent, grocery shopping, laundry, purchasing text books, printing etc.

In this blog-post I would to emphasize another area of adulting which is the importance of self-discipline. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines self-discipline as the ability to make yourself do things you know you should do even when you do not want to. As students these things can be making yourself go to your lectures and seminars, this can be especially hard for students that live off campus. This a struggle that all undergraduate students face but once you think about your long term goals this should hopefully be enough motivation to get up and do what you have to do.

Also, when you think about all the time, money and general effort that has gone into you doing a university degree, you want it to all be worth it at the end of the day with a great degree classification on your graduation day. Another point I’ve heard people make regarding this topic is that, in those moments when you are feeling demotivated, to think about what a privilege even being able to further your education is. We are all aware that further/higher education in some other countries for example developing countries are restricted or limited to certain groups of people. Also, the ability to use student finance is a great benefit because it provides a system which enables students who based on their family income would normally not be able to afford university education.

Apart from thinking about the previous points, another way in which you can motivate yourself is by having a vision board. A vision board is a tool used to concentrate and maintain focus on specific life goals. This can be any board (physical or virtual) which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life. In addition to this you should also consider the practical actions needed to put in place to achieve that certain goal.

Realistically, there will be times when you feel stressed, demotivated, anxious, overwhelmed, home sick etc. A natural reaction in these times would be to confide in your friends who can be your support network but whatever you do it is important to seek help and not keep it all to yourself. There is help provided by the university to help you deal with issues outside of your studies, whether financial or personal. Don’t beat yourself up, give yourself a break, we are all humans and hence have imperfections. Self-discipline is very difficult, planning each day can be a great way to ensure you are being productive with your time and doing the things you know you have to do. For example, make a ‘To Do’ list, it can be very satisfying to tick off the activities on the list once completed.

Dealing with everyday activities – doing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, laundry etc., although they may seem simple can be challenging for some people. At the end of the day, most people start university as a teenager (average age in the UK is 18) and most people live on campus during their first year so they can no longer rely on other people to help them with certain activities.

With this new found freedom and independence it can be tempting and easy to fly off the rails.  Especially if coming from a strict environment back home, it can be tempting to initially just do whatever you want when you want, eat and sleep when you want etc. There is no one bossing you around and telling you what to do, you are essentially completely in control of managing a whole life – your life, which can be a very big responsibility.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

This quote by Theodore Roosevelt supports the idea that nothing good comes easy, so we should expect the challenges to come, if we struggle or fall we should still endeavor to get back up and learn from our mistakes.

Overall, I’m sure after university we will all be able to reflect, see the growth and the difference between who we were when we came to university and who we are leaving university as.