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.

 

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!

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.

Telephone Interview: Grant Thornton

I recently had my telephone interview with Grant Thornton last Sunday. It was quite nerve-wracking watching the clock and knowing my phone would ring any moment. This was my third telephone interview. I had one last summer with ICAEW to become the campus ambassador and one with PwC, then this one with Grant Thornton. Here are a few tips on how to do your best in telephone interviews.

Step 1: Prepare

I know that it seems obvious but if you prepare in advance then the interview will run smoothly. I researched about Grant Thornton first on their website, then found out about them from other sources such as accountancy age. I applied for Audit and found out through Accountancy age that they had just welcomed a new audit partner to the team. I actually referred to this in my interview. It just shows the level of depth that you have gone into to learn about their company. If you are applying for Grant Thornton, check out their ‘spilling the beans’ blogs as these contain vital information and helpful tips which allow you to broaden your knowledge of the company and understand how current employees view the company. It allows you to find out about current roles of employees and their working environment. This gives you a valuable insight into the company so definitely check these out.

Step 2: Write bullet points and have these in front of you

I researched the key values and competencies of Grant Thornton and wrote these in bullet point form with short notes on how I have utilised these in my life. I used different coloured pens to highlight important points that I could say during the interview. I also had a copy of my CV in front of me in case the employer asked me about it. It’s good to have notes in front of you but try not to write too much as when you’re talking it can be difficult to find the information you could use if you have written large blocks of text.

Top tip: Try not to rustle the papers if you do decide to have notes as the employer might hear and it sounds very unprofessional

Step 3: Relax

If you sound nervous over the phone, the interviewer will notice. Try to relax your voice so it sounds smooth and unshaken. You will need to sound confident and friendly. Maybe answer the phone starting with ‘Good evening, Jade Street speaking’, obviously tailor it to you, if it’s morning say good morning and try to use your full name, maybe not your middle name but if you think it flows better do what makes you feel more comfortable.

Have a few deep breaths before the telephone interview and have the confidence in yourself and your preparation. Make sure that you sound friendly and not over confident. No one will be impressed if you’re too cocky.

Step 4: Ask questions

I asked a few questions at the end and the interviewer was very impressed with them. I asked about any further reading that I could undertake to ensure that I had the key knowledge to excel at this company and they gave me a lot of advice regarding contacting buddies as they have a buddy system and certain books which will guide me through the key information I will need.

Step 5: Reflect

Don’t agonise over the interview picking out every little detail but give at least 2 minutes after it to think about what went well and what you could have improved upon. Doing this will help you to get a grasp of how well it went and how to improve for future interviews as you will probably have more than 1. I have already had 3.

Further assistance

If you are still worried about your interview, there are the regular drop in sessions and events ran by the university to help you succeed. They can probably give a deeper insight and some more hints and tips in the secrets of a successful interview so don’t be afraid to seek help. My networking skills were awful so I attended a networking evening ran by Lancaster University last year and it helped me to develop my skills. I managed to make new contacts and find out about an employer connect scheme ran by Lancaster. I was paired up with a chartered accountant and all of this was due to me attending a networking event. This just shows how valuable the help from Lancaster University really is. Grasp these opportunities whilst you can.

‘Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.’- William Arthur Ward

Good Luck in your future telephone interviews.

Life at university

New environment

Coming from a big city like London, adjusting to Lancaster was definitely a challenge. Being from London, it’s easy to think everywhere else in the United Kingdom is just like London, but this is not at all the case. A word a lot of people associate with London is diversity. Around 300 different languages are spoken in London and there are at least 14 different faiths practised there. Lancaster is not quite like London, although the university itself is quite diverse with almost 3000 international students.

London being the capital of England and the United Kingdom, it is expected that it would have certain features that other cities in the UK don’t. Apart from the obvious differences between London and Lancaster (population size etc.) there are subtle things I find myself noticing. Small things like the different transport system, for example all the main roads through Central Lancaster are one way. In London public transport is operated by Transport for London (TFL) and uses the oyster system.  However in Lancaster the cash system is still being used on buses, but there definitely is easy access to cash machines on campus with various ATM machines around Alexandra Square.

However, there are also good points to living in Lancaster, one being the beautiful scenery. For instance, living in Furness college I am able to enjoy amazing views and take great snapchat pictures through my window of the sunset and sunrise. In first year, around freshers week I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the world-famous Lake District National Park. Part of the trip was a boat ride on the actual lake, I really enjoyed this trip because it was a great way to bond more with my flatmates and discover the beauty of Nature from the boat. Unlike London, Lancaster provides the opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the countryside.

Friendships

I think most people form friendship groups with people they gel with during fresher’s week, their flatmates in first year or people on their course. Once these friendship groups are formed, they basically stick together for the remaining duration of their degrees.

One of the common things people say about university is that you will make lifelong friends and make useful connections for your future career.  However,  at university people are still developing and finding out who they are so are. Also, most people only do a 3 year degree and 3 years go by so quickly, especially because it’s 3 academic years rather than 3 actual years.

I have met a lot of interesting people, studying a variety of degrees. I was surprised to find so many people from London as well, but I have also met people from all over the world which has been very educational for me. I met most of my friends through my course and joining societies like the African Caribbean society and the Pentecostal Gospel Choir.

In first year my flatmates and I would usual gather in the communal kitchen and use this time to learn about each others cultures and backgrounds.  I really appreciated that everyone I came across were very welcoming, especially the Freshers Representatives that we were had who were very helpful. Each flat were assigned student representatives, (who were usually 2nd year students) to help freshers settle in well.

Social life

There are so many events happening all over campus. Make the most of these even if it means going by yourself. A good way to improve your social life at university is by joining societies. Joining clubs and societies will give you lots of chances to meet other like-minded people, make friends and have fun. Social media is also a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on, for instance, Facebook is still used to invite people to events.

Last but not least, as simple as it may sound, just talk to people. Get to know your flatmates, people in your lectures, tutorials, seminars etc. because you never know what you could have in common. You could be in the same tutorial as someone and not know anything about them, this is why I like it when we have group or pair work during tutorials.

The simple fact that you study the same degree or study at the same university already creates so many things for you to talk about. I recently had an enlightening conversation with an international student in one of my tutorials, I learnt that we both share similar views and opinions on our modules. Also, these people can be very useful in terms of if you need help with assignments or revision.

‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ Video Interview tips

Week 5 already finished, this whole year is flying by. It’s my birthday next week so I am looking forward to celebrating being 20. I feel so old, but before the celebrating begins, I have a test and yes you guessed it…. it’s on the morning of my birthday so I have to put all the celebrations on hold till the exam is over. It is a multiple choice question paper for my module MSCI224 Techniques for Management Decision Making. I’m really enjoying this module. The first few lectures were all about project planning and deciphering the minimum duration of the project and the best ways in which to reduce it using the lowest cost. This is called Network analysis. As I didn’t do Management Science 103 in first year, I am required to do this module so not all Accounting and Finance students partake in it. It was compulsory for me as I did mathematics as a minor last year. There is so much support with this module during tutorials and there is a drop in session every week. This support is what’s great about Lancaster, they want to ensure that you fully understand the topic in order to excel. They provide a perfect environment to learn and develop whilst supporting you if required along the way.
I have actually applied to Grant Thornton for an internship in audit this week too. I really enjoyed my ACF 211 module Accounting Information Systems and Auditing last term; this made me change my mind from going into tax to trying out audit so I applied for an audit intern role. I had to fill in an application and was then invited to partake in a video interview. It was unusual doing a video interview as I have never done one before. I had to look into the camera to simulate eye contact and avoid looking at myself on the screen (which is harder than it sounds, I wouldn’t describe myself as vain, you just want to check that you look alright). A video was played in which an employee of Grant Thornton asked a question. I was then given a minute to prepare and then recorded my answer. I wasn’t talking to someone ‘face to face’ or in this case ‘screen to screen’ just recording myself for them to review later.
I felt more of a personal aspect with Grant Thornton when going through their application process. It is still early days in my application but I already get a sense of their values and it makes me really want to work for them. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t get anywhere with them as I didn’t get the PwC internship. But don’t let setbacks knock you down, keep trying! I am so glad that I have applied for Grant Thornton though as I didn’t know that much about them but they are so friendly through their emails and their values show how much they care about their staff. It is a great attitude for a firm to have, I guess that’s what makes them unique. Even if I don’t get through the intern stage, I’m going to try and apply for a graduate role with them as I have fallen in love with their firm.

I passed the video interview stage and now have a telephone interview. In a previous blog, I gave hints and tips about how to do well in a phone interview as I have already done a few before. I would greet the interviewer stating my name ‘Good evening, Jade Street speaking’. This gives more of a professional aspect and just sounds smoother than hello. If you feel you are struggling to come up with an answer for a question maybe say ‘that’s quite a difficult question, please give me a moment to reflect on that’, this is a good filler and hopefully, give you enough time to construct an answer. I will give some more hints and tips next week when I have completed the Grant Thornton phone interview.
With a video interview, make sure you dress as you would for a face to face interview. DRESS SMART. It will make you look more professional and show that you are a serious candidate for the job. Before the interview make sure you are relaxed and your background is tidy. I did it in my room and made sure that the background was tidy; if you have a messy room they may not take you seriously and it reflects badly on you. Try to ensure there isn’t a mass amount of light behind you otherwise you will become a shadow and it makes it hard to see your face. This isn’t good in an interview as they will want to see your facial expressions and just put a face to a voice. This makes it more personal. Remember to tell your housemates/ flatmates that you are doing an interview so they don’t disturb you. My housemate last year did a video interview and we didn’t realise and she said we were noisy and the interviewer wasn’t impressed with this. Also, tell your family or boyfriend or anyone who may call you, my family tried face timing me in the middle of my interview luckily it wasn’t at a crucial point, I wasn’t being recorded.

Top tip: Dress smartly and let people know you are doing an interview

The most important thing for an interview is preparation! Make sure you do loads! There is no such thing as too much preparation and it just shows how good a candidate you are. There is a famous quote ‘failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’. Don’t let this be you. Preparation gives you a great shot at your dream role, don’t lose it due to laziness. Make sure you know the company inside and out. The company will love it.

Top tip: Prepare; do your research.

Take deep breaths before your video interview, maybe practice using your video camera on your phone to help stop habits such as looking at yourself and ensuring you look directly into the camera. Have a glass of water next to you if you feel you may need it and make sure you’re comfortable as you don’t want to fidget about when it’s recording.

Good luck in your video interviews!!
Thanks for reading.

Useful Apps for an Accounting and Finance student

Commercial awareness is very important especially for university students. Commercial awareness usually refers to a candidate’s general knowledge of business and their understanding of the industry which they are applying to join. To compete in any sector of the graduate job market, you need to demonstrate commercial awareness when you make online applications, go to interviews and attend assessment centres. Commercial awareness can be gained through work experience, or completing an internship in your chosen industry.

Keeping up with current affairs in the news is a really good way to develop your commercial awareness. There are many ways to receive news nowadays, for example: reading newspapers, watching news channels on TV, listening to the radio, surfing the internet and using mobile applications (apps). Simply by watching a 15-minute news update, you can get the break down of business and economic news for that day.

Below, I will explore useful apps to build your commercial awareness as a university student and also useful apps for everyday university life.

Reuters

Most mobile phones come with their own news app, but if you’re looking for a little something more then why not try Reuters. Reuters is an international news agency and is a division of Thomson Reuters. Since the acquisition of Reuters Group by the Thomson Corporation in 2008, the Reuters news agency has been a part of Thomson Reuters, making up the media division. The Reuters app delivers breaking news, analysis and market data from the world’s most trusted news organization. The app makes it easy to explore a seamless stream of articles, pictures, and videos on your phone or tablet.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social networking service, it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs. The LinkedIn mobile App compared to the website can be a faster way to tap into your account, get news and information that interest you, get a daily brief on what’s happening in your network, and it’s a quick way to respond to the latest activities on your account. The app is great for job seeking and skill building. The app is free and can be downloaded on Google play and the Apple store.

Debut

Debut is a careers app for students and graduates looking for internship or graduate scheme opportunities at the UK’s best employers. The app is developed exclusively for students, it is relatively quick to complete a Debut profile, and employers will find you. A unique feature of the app is the games that are available to be played, where the students and graduates can engage in employer mobile games, competitions and challenges in order to win amazing prizes including internships, new technology equipment and trips abroad.

Monefy

Monefy is a money management app, it has a simple layout that is easy to understand. It features tools for budgeting, balancing, and transaction tracking. It also has a built-in calculator, and can be converted to various currencies. Logging your expenses allows you to become more conscious of your spending habits, hence enabling you to figure out where the problem areas are so you can start working on how to improve. For a university student this can be a great start to your money budgeting journey. There is a free and paid version, neither of which have adverts.

UNiDAYS

UNiDAYS is a free student discount App which helps students to save both online and in-store, it is now available in over 7 countries. Becoming a member of UNiDAYS is free, you just need to proof that you’re a student and you will be able to access a world of discounts from various brands. Having UNiDAYS as an app on your phone can be very useful for checking the most recent offers and saving money. The app is also very easy to use, you can find discounts for all sorts of things: clothing, technology, music, stationery, food and more. UNiDAYS is partnered with the biggest brands including the likes of ASOS, Apple, Spotify, Paperchase and McDonald’s.

iLancaster

iLancaster is a free mobile app delivering Lancaster University services, resources and information. It’s available for you to download on both iOS and on Android.  iLancaster is also available from any web browser. The app can be used by students, members of staff and even undergraduate applicants. There are many different features that both students and staff can enjoy. The timetable section is very useful to check your personal course and exam timetables. The bus timetable feature especially helps off-campus students to locate the nearest bus stop, and see when the next bus is due. There are many other features within the app and there is also access to Moodle through the app.

Overall, apps are becoming more and more useful as technology is advancing. Most young people have their phones with them at all times, you can literally find an app for almost anything making life easier and more convenient.

Applicant Day: A different perspective

Experiencing an Applicant day as a potential student is entirely different to actually being at an applicant day as a current student. It is an entirely different perspective and helps you to realise how far you have come yourself. It brings back memories to when you were in their position.

I am one of the very many Lancaster University Management School Student Ambassadors, wow that’s a long title to say but definitely not as long as the list of students that came to visit the University. We arrived early at 8:00 am (it’s early for a university student) to be briefed on our activities for the day. I was on the welcome desk first; I was required to register all of the fresh-faced applicants. I remember when I was in the exact same position. I remember being very shy and not sure what to do with myself. Yet just last week I went to an applicant day with my sister (she’s in that position now), she was very shy and not wanting to talk to anyone whereas I was there asking for booklets and numerous questions. I was a bit overenthusiastic but I was just so excited for her to start this incredible journey. It just shows how much university changes you, just witnessing this new found confidence in me! Seeing all of these shy and timid applicants made me realise how far I have come. Before university, I couldn’t even get a bus on my own and now I’m getting trains to London by myself, I couldn’t even talk to the takeaway employee on the phone, now I can spark up a conversation with someone who sits next to me on the bus.

At 11:30, I was scheduled to be in an Accounting and Finance information lecture. It is always daunting to be in an academic talk when you haven’t got anything prepared. I didn’t realise I was speaking in the talk but it was truly amazing giving my insight and experience of Lancaster to the worried parents and students. The fact that it wasn’t prepared made it less script like and parents could tell that I really believed in what I was saying. I was first asked why I chose Lancaster University and I explained that it’s such a safe campus and there are porters in every section of campus all the time so it is incredibly safe and secure. I liked this aspect as being in the first year and living away from home can be quite scary and knowing that there is always a point of contact a few minutes away puts your mind at ease. I also explained about the mass amount of support they will have if they decide to study here as there is the careers hub for constant support with interview techniques and there are constant workshops which range from improving your CV writing skills to mathematics classes to improve math ability.

One of the most relevant questions that were asked was “what differentiates Lancaster University’s Accounting and Finance course to other Universities?”. I think one of the biggest differences is the minor scheme. Lancaster University is one of the only universities to do the minor scheme. This means that you do Accounting and Finance but also an Economics minor and a free minor. For my free minor, I did Mathematics. This means that you have lectures in economics and maths as well as the Accounting and Finance ones. It allows for more flexibility; for example, I can now take modules in maths during the second and third year or modules in Economics in the second or third year as I get a few free choice modules. This allows you to gain a wide range of knowledge and learn things from other subjects, you aren’t limited to just Accounting and Finance. Another thing that differentiates the course is ACF 350. This is an extra module where they basically assess your employability. You get marked on your CV and you take part in a business game. This helps you develop upon skills such as teamwork, quick thinking, and creativity. You then needed to write an assessed report on the outcomes of the game.

Another question that was asked was “Should I take the placement year course or not?”. The placement degree isn’t for everyone; it depends on who you are as a person. Now I remember on my applicant day at Lancaster University, the lecturer giving the speech said that many students get absorbed in the working world so struggle to get back into studying when they have to come back to finish their degree. He said that many don’t want to come back and some students actually haven’t come back. Students may get offered a job at the company they work for, they then accept it and don’t come back to University. Now, this creates a problem as they haven’t actually got that degree, they can’t move to a different company as they haven’t finished the degree qualification. So they’re stuck in this company. Another factor was that it takes up a lot of time and it can be a lot of pressure actually trying to get a placement. This is what made me decide not to do the placement year as I felt studying would need to come first and as I have never done Accounting and Finance before, I would need that time for studying and wouldn’t be able to balance them.

There are advantages to the placement year though, it’s a great chance to earn money, learn new skills and get great connections with employers. They may even offer you a job after your degree. It also helps you to decide if that line of work for you or you may decide you want to work in a different sector. It helps you to decide whether that employer is for you. You could go and work in one of the big four and decide that you don’t like working in large companies and opt for a smaller company. There are advantages and disadvantages of the placement year as there with everything. If you think you can handle it, then definitely go for it as long as you come back! Don’t make that mistake.

The day was then finished with a few campus tours….It was amazing to see an applicant day from the other side. It was me a few years ago, a nervous sixth form student choosing my University sat in those lectures finding out all about Lancaster. Now I am a Lancaster University students talking to those in the position that I was in 2 years.

Top tip: Apply to be a Student ambassador, it can be a real eye opener and it’s a chance to get the word out about the University and express your positive views to parents and students who are in the same situation that you were a few years ago. It is a chance to give back to the University.

 

Why I chose to study Accounting and Finance

When I was choosing my A-level subjects like most students I wasn’t yet sure about what career I wanted to pursue, therefore didn’t know what degree I wanted to do or what university I wanted to go to. However, I was pretty sure that I wanted to go to university itself, I wanted to extend my knowledge, grow personally and improve my chances of having a better life overall. As I was unsure about the degree I wanted to do, my strategy towards picking my subjects was to not limit myself. I knew that certain subjects where compulsory prerequisites for certain courses, for example an A-level in Mathematics for a Mathematics degree.

I tried to reflect on the subjects that I both enjoyed and excelled at during my GCSE’s, I really enjoyed Mathematics, Religious Studies and English Literature. I considered doing a language because I did Spanish at GCSE and really enjoyed it, I was also told that doing a language at A – level would be great for university applications and that it could help me stand out.

At the end of the day the A-levels I took were Religious Studies, Mathematics and Economics. I decided not to go for English Literature because although I enjoyed it at GCSE, this might have greatly been down to the amazing teacher I had and I couldn’t see myself pursuing a career directly related to English Literature. I chose to study Economics because it was a fascinating new subject for me and it was well – respected. I actually also wanted to do Business Studies but I was warned against doing so because it was considered too similar to Economics and some universities openly discourage students from taking certain combinations of A-level subjects.
During the whole UCAS application process, I started to explore my degree options with the help of the career days my college would run and my own personal research. I quickly realised that there were many different degrees out there to choose from and also many different universities that had slightly different course structures for the same degree. I briefly entertained the idea of taking a degree in Mathematics but found that the requirements were very high and some universities even wanted me to have done Further Mathematics.

I eventually chose to go for an Accounting and Finance degree because it had excellent graduate prospects, from my research I found that Accounting and Finance graduates had a greater chance of being professionally employed within 6 months of leaving university. The degree also has a real-life application, I wanted to study something that could equip me with practical skills that I can then use to start my professional career. It was also very important for me to go for something that would enable me the chance to build a career rather than just get a job to pay the bills. For me a career is something long-term and that has the opportunity for progression.
There are also many Graduate schemes available for this degree, which I saw as a potential opportunity to work for an already established company with a structured training programme and clear career progression. I felt that it was a reliable degree option because there will always be demand for accountants as long as businesses exist and money is still a current medium of exchange. A degree in Accounting and Finance also opens the door to work in any industry, the skills acquired during the degree can be applied to any business. Likewise, there is the opportunity to work overseas, although there are some minute differences in accounting depending on the country, the general ideas are the same.

Overall, in a way Accounting and Finance is a joint honours degree and is treated as such at other universities. Finance is the science of planning the distribution of a business’ assets and Accounting is the art of the recording and reporting financial transactions. I believed studying an Accounting and Finance degree rather than simply an Accounting degree would widen my business knowledge and be useful in a global marketplace.