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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

What to do in your spare time

Whilst University is a great place to come and study something that you enjoy and learn more about it, you will probably realise very quickly that you end up with a lot of free time when you are not in lectures or other classes. This was something that I became very aware of within my first few weeks at University.

This is where societies can come in. Before coming to university, I was not a very sociable, outgoing person. At college I had a small group of friends who all had the same interests, so we generally tended to do the same activities during our spare time (which usually revolved around watching our favourite TV shows). But after coming to Lancaster I felt that it would be time for a change. I decided that the best way to make new friends was to actively go out and make them.

Freshers Fair was the perfect opportunity to do this. With nearly all societies that Lancaster has, setting up a stall to show what they had to offer, I knew that I was bound to find something that I would enjoy.  Now I have to admit, that when I found out that the University had a Doctor Who and a Harry Potter Society my inner nerd nearly went into overdrive.  Of course I was going to sign up for them.

Now admittedly there were some societies that I only went to a couple of times before deciding that I did not like them. Not that there was anything wrong with the society per se, it just was not what I personally wanted from it. The great thing about the societies though is that a large majority of them also have stalls a Re-Freshers fair which is held in January.

It was at Re-freshers fair that I found some more societies which I am still a part of to this day. I signed up for Dodgeball, thinking it would be good to try out something that I had never done before.  Even though I’m terrible at it I still really enjoy taking part, and some of the best friends that I have at University, I made through Dodgeball. Not only that, but in March of 2016 I got the opportunity to run for a position on the executive committee- and I’m so glad that I did. Whilst its obviously something great to put on my CV, it also makes me really happy to be a part of the ‘behind the scenes crew’ of the society. It feels great to have a say in how the society is run, what socials we will be putting on, as well as being able to further increase the reach of the society. Plus, it’s really great that I’ve had the chance to compete against other teams in the North of England through the society.

Fast forward to the start of 2nd year and once again I attended freshers fair- although this time it was slightly different. Given that I was on the executive committee of Dodgeball, I was helping out manning the stall for this. But that did not stop me from trying to join other societies too. One of my new flatmates was part of the Korfball society. Having never heard of it (short version is that its a cross between netball and basketball), I thought that it would be worth checking out. Once again, it was one of the best choices I made. Not only have I made even more amazing friends, but I’ve played in a few tournaments, and even have my own personalised kit top, which is great to keep as a memento of my time there.

I also decided to join the running club, although unfortunately I was not able to get too involved in that during first term of second year as I had lectures and other societies that clashed. However, I am planning on getting more involved now that my timetable has freed up a lot.

It’s amazing to consider how much I have gained from joining all these societies; I’ve made countless new friends, and not to mention become 10x more active than I was 3 years ago, which is obviously a good thing.

Who knows if I’ll join any more societies in third year, but at least I can safely say that I’ve made the most out of my time at University.

Is an Industrial Placement for me?

I have known since the day I decided that I wanted to study a business related degree that I wanted to complete an industrial placement as part of my time at University. I knew that the experience this would offer me would be invaluable, not only for furthering my understanding of my subject, but also when it comes to applying for graduate jobs when I leave Lancaster. But the decision isn’t always so easy for everyone.

Applying for a placement year can be incredibly scary. Because it divides your degree into two segments (first and second year, the placement, and then returning for final year), this means that everyone else completing a three-year course will have graduated by the time you return. This is something I am absolutely not looking forward to – leaving my friends behind during what would have been my last year with them.

Not only that but during first year I felt completely unprepared for a real life, real responsibility, real workload job. As much as I was loving University life, I wasn’t ready to take the next leap on my career path. These are the fears that often prevent people from applying for a placement year as part of their degree.

I cannot stress enough how valuable a placement year is. This is especially true in industries like mine (Marketing) where not just graduate jobs but the job market in general is fiercely competitive. A placement gives you the upper hand over other candidates – you already have a whole year of work experience in your field, working on real projects with real people in a real company. That is something that makes you stand head and shoulders above your competitors when it comes to finding a job at the end of your degree.

Not only that, but the beauty of getting a job in-between your degree is that the support on offer to you is unlike any you will experience outside of University. The dedicated LUMS Careers Team is always on hand – during term time and holidays – to offer you support and guidance, look over your applications, and put you in touch with previous Lancaster students who can guide you through your application with first hand experience themselves.

I myself am already feeling the benefits of a placement year, and I am still only in the application stages. I know I am more confident and independent, and where last year just thinking about a placement year make my stomach churn, now I am excited by the prospects and the opportunities that lie just around the corner. Yes – I am still out of my comfort zone, and each application poses a new challenge, but that is exactly what an employer wants to see. The entire process improves your resilience, self-confidence and ambition.

So if you’re considering a placement year as part of your Lancaster degree, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Though there are sacrifices involved, and some of your friends won’t be here when you return for your final year, the benefits more than outweigh the costs.

Why I chose Lancaster

The decision to go to University is not an easy one to make. It represents the first major choice that many will have to make, that will potentially have a major impact on the rest of their lives. Not only this but the wealth of factors that a potential student has to consider can seem pretty overwhelming. I remember my decision to come to University as if it was yesterday- when in actual fact it was over 2 years ago.

My ‘Road to University’ began around the time when I was halfway through my first year at college (around February 2014). I had been weighing up the pros and cons of coming to University for a few months prior to this, and having eventually settled on the idea that yes, this is what I wanted to do with my life, I started thinking about it seriously. But that of course meant that I had to know what I wanted to study.

This was the first major hurdle I had to overcome. For my A-Levels, I had chosen to do Media Studies, BTEC Business and English Language. At that point in time, there was one subject that I preferred to the rest-Media. My teachers made the subject so interesting , and it was also really interesting to learn about the dynamics surrounding something that we interact with on a daily basis. With this in mind, I felt like I would be interested in considering a Media-related degree. There was one area of Media that had always fascinated me- Journalism.

I therefore began to start searching for Universities that offered Journalism. I travelled all around the UK (with the assistance of my parents) to find a University that would be perfect for me, not only in terms of courses, but in terms of the general student life as well.  I looked at Nottingham Trent University, Huddersfield University, University of Salford and Newcastle University. Every time I looked at a University I had my little notebook with me, writing down what I liked about each one and what I didn’t like. Unfortunately, I could not escape the feeling that every time I looked at somewhere, that there was something missing.

This was the point where I had my first serious think about whether I was looking at the right places, or looking at the right course. After a few weeks consideration, I decided that I wasn’t as hung up on Journalism as I had originally thought. It was at this moment where I had an epiphany. I had been getting good grades in Business at college, and I was enjoying the subject just as much as I was enjoying Media. It felt that it was a logical step for me to want to do a Business-related degree.

So once again I embarked on another wide search for Universities offering Business-related degrees, and this journey seemed to be so much easier. I was now much more confident that this is what I wanted to do. I looked at fewer Universities when I was considering Business, looking at both Loughborough University and the University of Edinburgh. Yet no matter how enthusiastic I tried to be, there was still the notion of something being missing.

Then it all changed. One of my friends from home had just graduated from Lancaster University, where he was studying Accounting and Finance. He could not have been more enthusiastic about his time there. We had a long chat about his experiences, both in the academic sense and the sense of his general student life. I felt that I should look into the University and see if his experiences would be well founded.

On my first open day to Lancaster University, I immediately knew that he was telling the truth. As soon as I set foot on the campus, I was in awe. It had everything that you could need, within walking distance of the accommodation- 1 tick.

I then went to hear about some of the courses that were offered, and was in total shock. Not only did the University offer a massive variety of courses, relating to nearly every business sector that there is, they were all based in a dedicated Management School. Even more impressive, was the fact that the Management School was regularly ranked within the top 10 Universities for most Business-related courses in the UK, and within the top 1% globally. Tick number 2.

But obviously it was all well and good thinking that the course was brilliant, but what would happen if I did not like the area where I was going to be staying?  I need not worry. Not only was Lancaster brilliant for having every shop I would ever need, but it was also not a massive leap from a tiny rural village, to a big city- the perfect combination of both. Tick number 3.

There was one last thing that would potentially influence my decision- societies. I knew that I would be doing a lot of studying, but I also knew that I would want to fill my spare time doing things that I would enjoy. My jaw simply dropped when I saw the massive range of societies that the University offered, from Taekwondo to Tea Appreciation. From Anime to Rugby Union. Tick number 4.

Even my parents could see that I was much happier with this University than I had been with all the others I had looked at. It was from this point forward that I knew, this was where I wanted to spend the next 3/4 years of my life.

Having been here for a year already, I can safely say that it was one of the best decisions that I ever made choosing to study here. I have made so many new friends, and I am studying a subject that I love, at a University that impresses me day after day.

Why I Chose Lancaster

Applying for University can be daunting – it presents what for many is the first major ‘fork in the road’ moment in life. Two years ago, I had concluded my nationwide University tour -the infamous hunt for the perfect degree programme and perfect University that my friends and I had become so familiar with – and settled on my decision.

I remember vividly two University open days – Leeds and Lancaster. Both excellent institutes. Both very high up the league tables for Marketing (first and second). Both fiercely competing for applicants, and I was torn. Leeds was everything the inner teenager in me wanted – the bright lights of the big city, far away from home, a reputable night out. Lancaster appealed to me rationally – a safer city, closer to home and most importantly, first in the country for my course.

I fought with myself for months, visited both applicant days and, eventually, firmed Lancaster after speaking to a student ambassador on the open day who assured me Lancaster met both needs – the very best teaching quality and the great student night out that my heart desired.

Not only this, but in my months of torment in deciding on which University to firm, I eventually weighed up the pros and cons of each University, and Lancaster came out on top by a country mile.

Firstly, the Lancaster University Management School rankings are incredibly high – consistently ranked within the top 10 Business Schools in the UK and within the top 1% globally. This gives makes me a student of one of the best Business Schools in the world, which is completely invaluable when it comes to applying for jobs, internships and placements.

Which leads nicely onto my next point – Lancaster has some seriously impressive links with companies who offer industrial placements for University students. As a placement year is something I have always wanted to complete as part of my degree, the way Lancaster approaches this was a hugely influential factor in my decision to come here. I found at other Universities, the general attitude towards industrial placements was ‘you can do one if you want, but you’re on your own in organising it’. Lancaster could not be more different. The Management School has a dedicated careers service specifically for placement students, runs drop-in sessions and lectures, mock assessment centres, interviews, psychometric tests and CV and cover letter workshops to ensure that every student is fully and completely prepared for both the application process and the actual work place. This is something I really value and having such a strong support network throughout the entire process made the idea of a placement year seem a lot less daunting.

The final major benefit of Lancaster which really swayed my decision was the campus. I come from a relatively small area and have never experienced living in a city (in fact, the only time I ever used a bus was when visiting family friends in Edinburgh – talk about country bumpkin!). As a result, I wasn’t convinced about how much I would really enjoy city life – I felt like I would embrace it for the first term but the novelty of not being within walking distance of everything (literally, everything) as I was at home would quickly wear off. Lancaster was the perfect in-between – just out of the city, I would have access to the city life with the comfort of a campus bubble to retreat to.

Here’s me visiting my accommodation just after A level results day when I knew I’d made it, not knowing how my University experience would unfold or where the next four years would take me.

becca-farish-outside-accommodation

Having been here for a year now, I am confident I made the right decision with Lancaster.