Dealing with Failure

It is now almost the end of my second term at Lancaster University and, oh boy, let me tell you that learning to deal with failure (and setbacks in general) has been by far the biggest learning curve for me. It’s not that I never failed before coming to university (of course I have!) but at university the pace of everything is just so much more rapid that I found it very challenging to get over things so quickly. So, for example, I didn’t get the grade I expected in my second politics essay and, especially considering the fact that I did put a lot of effort into it, I was understandably upset. While I would usually let myself feel sorry for myself for a few days in normal circumstances – at university, I had to start writing my next essay pretty much straight away. That is definitely a very difficult mindset to develop: learning to get over mistakes and not allowing them to affect your future progress.

Similarly, I have tasked myself with finding some sort of internship/job for the summer (which, if you have ever tried applying to internships in your first year, you will know is a challenge in itself as most employers look for penultimate year students). I cannot explain the heartbreak you experience when you get rejected from a job, especially after several stages of the recruitment process because it just makes the rejection feel all the more personal. (If they reject you based on your CV that feels like a very different rejection than the one that comes after a face-to-face interview.)

The best piece of advice I got on how to deal with these kind of setbacks is to stop seeing the process as a race against other people – you are only racing yourself. If you look around, there will always be somebody smarter than you, with better grades, with (what appears to be) a more accomplished life. Instead, focus on how far YOU have come. I can guarantee that if you read one of your essays from 2-3 years ago, you would not believe the progress. Perspective is everything.

Once the dust has settled, make sure you treat failure as a learning process. Why did you not get the grade you expected? Could you benefit from some additional help? For example, LUMS offers really great MASH (Maths and Stats Help) sessions every week; I find that a lot of people struggle with the much more mathematical approach to economics at degree level (as compared to A-Level economics) and knowing where and when to get extra support is crucial. However, that’s the tough reality – at university, no one is going to be able to help you unless you ask. The step up to degree-level education is a significant one and we all need to be kinder to ourselves when we inevitably encounter setbacks. Onwards and upwards!

Free MASH for all!

The best thing about being a student here at Lancaster University Management School is the free mash, without a doubt. Perhaps even better is that it is exclusive to LUMS students, meaning that your flatmates studying English or Politics cannot diminish the chunk of mash available to us Management School students.

Now, those of you reading this who are not currently studying at Lancaster University (this will be most of you), must be finding this quite complexing. “I can’t remember them telling us about free mash potato at that last applicant visit day, mum?”. And no, unfortunately this information won’t have been shared the last time you attended an event for prospective students. For the most part because LUMS of course do not offer free mash. Sorry guys.

Well, strictly speaking, they do! ‘MASH’ stands for ‘Maths and Stats help’, and it is a service designed to improve Management School students’ numerical skills. The likelihood is that if you come and study any LUMS degree, it will have some mathematical component. Since we’re not all the future John Nash, or that Maths teacher in high school who thought they could number crunch anything, we all may need a little help, from time to time.

The staff at LUMS understand this too, which is why you can book free one-to-one sessions with people who want to help you improve where possible, and help you achieve the best possible degree outcome. It doesn’t end there either, there are so many different services which LUMS students can utilise at their will, ranging from careers support to improving your writing skills.

Personally speaking, I did not have a particularly strong mathematical background before coming to university, but used all the help I had available to greatly improve my Maths skills during my first year. I know a lot of people who are sceptical about applying for certain Management School degrees as they do not believe they will be able to cope with the inherent mathematical components of certain subjects. If you are one of these, then I would encourage you not to be put off from studying a degree which you feel you will really enjoy, only because you don’t think you will be able to do the Maths.

I hope by reading this short piece, you now know a bit more about the variety of support available to LUMS students, and my positive experiences with them thus far. I hope that this blog also reflects how greatly your success at university is down to you. The help is there, you just need to adopt the mindset that you will look for it, you will find it, and you will use it.

Women in Economics

I still remember my first A Level Economics lesson: I was the only girl in a class of fifteen boys. Obviously, the problem here wasn’t that the economics faculty in my school didn’t accept girls onto their course (I mean, they let me in) but the problem was that girls weren’t applying to study this subject.

I can think of a few other examples of where certain subject areas seem to attract more men/discourage women from applying such as perhaps computing or engineering and it honestly baffles me. In a world where issues of gender equality and feminism are so current and openly discussed we still have girls being put off applying for traditionally “male-dominated” subjects.

Last term, the Lancaster Economics Society, together with LUMS, organised a talk by Manika Premsingh – an entrepreneur and economist. It was fascinating to hear about her journey to where she is today; and about the obstacles of being a woman in a “man’s world”. It really made me reflect on my own experiences of being a woman in economics and realise how important gender discussions are to the profession as a whole.

I am currently studying an Economics and International Relations degree and I can definitely say that the ratio of males to females in this subject has improved at university level, but it still isn’t where it should be. If we look at the below graph, taken from the Royal Economic Society website, we can clearly see how the number of male full-time undergraduate economics students has consistently been almost two times higher than the number of female students and I refuse to believe that this has anything to do with girls being less able or talented when it comes to this discipline.

 

 

Some of you may ask – well why does this matter? Maybe girls just want to do other things? Gender stereotyping aside, this view is very problematic simply because if research is only done by men, then the results are likely to fail at least half of the population – there are things that simply won’t be on male agendas. We need women to bring that perspective to the table.

Perhaps the issue is with our perception of economists. As the Financial Times so quaintly puts it: “To most people, an economist is the chap interviewed in newspapers or on the television uttering acronym-laced incantations about 0.3 per cent this or 10 per cent that. He is usually a man, rarely stylish, mysteriously confident, and a bit dull.” It’s hard to conjure up an image of a female role model in economics but that just means we need to become our own role models. I, for one, would love to see more women on the cover of the Economist and the Financial Times.

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.

The First Week of Lent Term and Prepare for Chinese New Year

Hi everyone, my name is Xuanyin, Hu and I am studying MSc Money, Banking and Finance at LUMS now. I am from China.

People always say: “all things are difficult before they are easy.” There was no surprise that, from the perspective of learning, the first week was also challenging, even though I have already studied for almost half a year at Lancaster University. Even so, I was so excited the whole week because the spring festival is coming (celebrating the lunar new year).

The main challenge was the choice of optional module. Actually, the programme’s module schedule is quite well–organised since the first semester, there were only compulsory courses and after that, I may get a clue for what I would like to study in the second term. The optional modules from my programme are divided into two kinds. One belongs to Accounting and Finance department which is more related to finance, another belongs to Economics department. So the problem comes out, should I choose one that I am good at or that I am interested in. I have more basic knowledge of finance because I studied investment in the previous study, however, the economics course attracts me a lot even though I have never studied economics before. So I went to economics’ lecture in the first week, however to be honest I quickly found that it was not for me, so instead I chose the Finance course for my optional course. It was quite hard to give up a thing that you are interested in, but I cannot sacrifice all my time to study an entirely new subject which others already learned from their last three-year study.

Tips for choosing a postgraduate optional course:
Choosing an optional module in postgraduate is quite different from undergraduate. In a postgraduate study, the knowledge is based on what you learned from the previous study. To choose a course which you are good at is more important.

Although it is already 2017 now, for a lot of Asian countries’ students, the new year should be the lunar new year. Of course, for me, it is a super exciting week to prepare for the new year.  It is my first spring festival in the UK and I used to celebrate with my family. So, from the start, I was quite worried about it and did not know how to celebrate it. Fortunately, my flatmates decided to celebrate it with me. We ordered loads of stuff online and also came to downtown to buy all materials and ingredients. After that, we made the dumplings together which was quite fun to teach my flatmates to make it. What’s more, I went the CSSA (Chinese Students & Scholar’s Association ) Chinese Festival. There were many traditional activities, for instance, making paper-cuts for window decorations, writing couplets,  guessing the lantern riddles etc. I wrote couplets for our flat and also wrote the “福” characters which mean happiness for each flatmates. Even though I am in the UK, I still feel a strong atmosphere of Chinese New Year, when you come to downtown, you could see  “Chinese red” theme in different shops and supermarkets. Besides, the graduate college porter is full of “Chinese red”, like the red lanterns.

Don’t worry about that you will be alone to study abroad, you will always meet the nice and kind people!  Happy new year everyone!