What is it like to be a Postgraduate Student Ambassador?

LUMS Ambassadors Welcome Event

Many people ask me, what it is like to be a Postgraduate Student Ambassador. I tried to answer this question in the post below.

Every year undergraduate and postgraduate offices hire a bunch of Student Ambassadors, which can literally be considered as a part-time job. The application process runs in November and pretty much resembles applying for a real job in a company. In the first round, you will be asked to submit your CV and a cover letter, so treat it seriously if you want to pass a screening stage. I would suggest that you contact the Career Services in LUMS and ask them for advice with regards to your CV and a cover letter. People who work in the Careers are real professionals with first-hand experience, so they can give you valuable feedback not only about applying for a PG Ambassador role, but also when applying for graduate jobs in different companies.

Once you successfully pass the screening stage, you will be invited for a group interview. This activity takes place on campus and there can be more than one interview set. This depends on the number of applications – for example, in 2015-2016 there were 2 sets, so it was possible to choose between two dates. People who come for this interview are split into small teams of 4-5 people in each. I will let you fully enjoy this experience and will not tell what you will be asked to do – let it be a surprise. However, I can advise you to remain yourself, stay natural and confident, open-minded and be willing to communicate and listen to other people.

After that… congratulations, you’ve become a Postgraduate Student Ambassador! Alright, what does it mean in practice? Firstly, it means opportunities. There are a lot of educational and extracurricular projects running every year – and you can become a part of them. While working on those projects you can develop some of your skills and eventually add them to your CV or LinkedIn profile. For instance, one of my assignments was to write news for LUMS blog on weekly basis. It helped me improve my English and present information in a readable and attractive way.

Secondly, being student ambassador increases your network. This is a chance to meet new like-minded people from all over the world, work side by side and achieve successful results in the end. For example, during postgraduate open day another ambassador and me were assisting prospective students in getting feedback and more information about the programmes of their interest. We managed to persuade 4 prospective students that Lancaster would be there cup of tea – and they submitted their applications.

Lastly, it’s a significant contribution towards your work experience. Student ambassador is a part-time job, which you get paid for. You will have a group of project coordinators who will be responsible for projects allocation. There will also be a manager you’ll have to report to. But make no mistake, studies comes first, and you will definitely not be forced to do the job you don’t want to or can’t do.

The world is your oyster, isn’t it? Do not hesitate and send an application to join a friendly gang of student ambassadors! For more information, procedures and deadlines contact Postgraduate Office. Good luck!

Management Science: modules I’ve enjoyed the most

StudyingDuring my Masters at MSc Management Science and Marketing Analytics programme I’ve been studying 10 modules in total – 4 in Autumn and 6 in Spring. Below is the list of my favourites.

3rd place: Marketing Analytics
This was the core module of my subject. It was taught in both terms, although in Autumn it was called ‘Introduction to Marketing Analytics’. Taught by Nikos Kourentzes, this course was rather practically oriented and although it gave some theoretical knowledge about concepts like 4P, brand power or promotional modelling, it was mainly focused on data analysis. During this course I’ve done conjoint analysis, clustering, multidimensional scaling, promotional modelling, regression analysis, forecasting newly launched product with statistical approaches. I’ve used SPSS and R extensively. It gave me good understanding of how to make data-driven marketing decisions and taught that marketing is not only about creativity and advertising – there is massive data analysis behind the scenes that actually helps companies make right business decisions about promotion and positioning.

2nd place: Forecasting
Centre for Forecasting located in Lancaster University is the No. 1 forecasting centre in Europe. One of the key factors that made me come and study in Lancaster was my passion for forecasting subject. And undoubtedly it was one of the best in the course. Interesting lectures, well-structured workshops, excellent delivery of a new and sophisticated material. This module was organised very thoroughly, not to mention that it was taught by the well-known scientists in the forecasting field – John Boylan and Robert Fildes. Eventually my dissertation project was related to short-term electricity demand forecasting, and this module and people helped me a lot. By the way, you’ll learn R programming language during this module.

1st place: Spreadsheet Modelling
This was a fantastic module run by (in my humble opinion) the best teacher in the department – Adam Hindle. It was a well-structure course that implied no prior Excel knowledge. In the beginning I was a bit biased given my 2-year analytical experience with a company where I’ve been using Excel extensively – what new can I learn at this module? However, although this course started from very basic things such as operation with simple formulas, design of tables, structuring information, etc., it was constantly speeding up – the pace was good, and each new task was more difficult the previous one. At one moment of time I was surprised to find myself writing codes in VBA, performing macro, solving optimisation tasks in a Solver add-in and composing pivot tables.

Places to visit near Lancaster

Lake District

It’s not all only about studying, right? Sometimes it’s really needed to take a break, recharge batteries and just enjoy the time. Fortunately, there are some places near Lancaster University that you can visit in your spare time.

Morecambe
Morecambe is a small town located by the sea. It is just 4 miles away from Lancaster, so you can easily get there either by taking a bus from the bus station in the town centre, or walking by foot, or cycling. In Morecambe, you can see low and high tide, walk by the promenade or eat famous fish and chips. There is a pier that goes a hundred yards in the sea – a beautiful view opens from there! In addition, in summer there is a kite festival held in Morecambe – and event not to be missed!

Galgate
Galgate is a tiny village just a 5-minute walk from campus. It is small, with narrow streets and traditional British detached houses – this is a place where you can feel the atmosphere of a small rural British area. There are two or three pubs in Galgate (quite good though) and a church. Not far from Galgate, there is a famous Lancaster Canal, peaceful and quite, where you can walk and enjoy old bridges, nature and houseboats.

Cycling
Lancaster is a bike-friendly town with plenty of cycle routes. You can either explore the area on your own, or check the cycle routes map. When you arrive in Lancaster, you will be able to buy a bike from the former students or by checking facebook communities where people sell second-hand stuff. Alternatively, you can buy a new bike in the town centre.

Forest of Bowland
Forest of Bowland is located West from campus. It’s a big area with rivers, springs, hills and, apparently, forest. You can enjoy hiking in this area, or have a walk across rural landscape, or cycle. It is really beautiful and once you climb higher, you’ll see a picturesque view with Lancaster, Morecambe and the Lake District visible.

The Lake District
Undoubtedly, the Lake District is the pearl of the British national parks. Its beauty cannot be described in words and it’s definitely a must-see place for everyone who comes to study in Lancaster. Hills, lakes, nature, animals – this place has it all. It is also famous for the ancient 2000 years old Roman forts located in the middle of the Lake District. It’s one of the best places to hike in the UK or to go camping. You can reach the Lakes either by train or by bus from the city centre.

Research projects and dissertation in Management Science department

Dmitrii dissertation

For master students summer is literally the hottest period in a year – this is the time of writing a dissertation. What is it like in Management Science department? Are there any guidelines and tips to perform well? What are the client-based and research-based projects? These are the topics to be discussed in this post.

Projects allocation
Studying in Management Science department requires you to show good academic records, regular and on time attendance, confidence in English, great interpersonal skills and motivation. These features will contribute towards your success in getting summer project of your interest. University outsources around 50 client-based projects with such famous brands as Lego, GfK, Johnson & Johnson, Jaguar Land Rover, etc. All projects are being presented on a particular day in the beginning of May. Based on what they’ve heard, students compose a list of 7 prioritised projects and submit it to a programme director. Cover letter might be attached as well. Then, the programme director allocates projects to students taking into account those features mentioned in the beginning of this section.
Students should understand that client-based projects imply a lot of responsibility. This is a chance to shine and demonstrate analytical skills you’ve learned throughout the year, negotiate with different stakeholders , mitigate risks and maintain information flow between yourself, your manager from the company and your supervisor from Lancaster. Literally, it’s a kind of consultancy experience, so be ready to move to another city in England.
Apart from the client-based projects, there are some research-based projects, most of which are located in Lancaster. This work is more academic and probably would be a cup of tea for prospective PhD students.
If by any reason you don’t want to work on a project in England, you can find one on your own. It can be located anywhere in the world, however you’ll have to discuss it in advance with your supervisor and programme director. So, as you can see it’s all quite flexible.

Tips and hints

  1. Start early. Seriously, start as soon as possible. You might think that you have 3 months ahead, but this is just an illusion as time passes by really fast! The earlier you start, the better for yourself.
  2. Read articles. Read at least 2-3 articles per week, and simple mathematics proves (3 articles * 4 weeks * 3 months = 36) that by the end of the day your reference list will have looked impressive. Well, I’m joking. It’s not about how many references you have, it’s about the quality of your paper. Properly chosen articles contribute towards better understanding of an issue, thoroughness of approaches used and level of detail in your work. Client will be pleased.
  3. Keep a diary. It would be better if your diary was an electronic document, which eventually could become your final dissertation. Keeping record of what you’ve been doing will prevent you from forgetting important pieces of information. This habit will also help you structure your thoughts and re-consider your work.
  4. Be fair. If you face difficulty, don’t be afraid of telling it to either your manager or supervisor. They are here to help, and without knowing the matter they won’t be able to do so.
  5. Rely on yourself. Although both Lancaster University and clients are supportive, this is entirely your project and the result depends only on you! Use your initiative, try to solve issues, stay confident and pro-active. If you don’t know something – google it, read papers. If you find yourself stuck, move some steps back and start over in another direction.

The world is your oyster, as well as your dissertation. Wish you good luck! Just do it.

 

PhD Life: Teaching Undergraduates and the Supporting Learning Programme teaching qualification

JKP-130207-7815

One of the aspects of my PhD that I particularly enjoy is having the opportunity to teach undergraduates. Most PhD students have the chance to teach although it is dependent on your department and supervisors. Some people have to undertake some teaching and/or marking activities as part of their studentship. I have an ESRC studentship so I don’t actually have to teach. However, I have always wanted to gain teaching experience. Prior to teaching you have to attend a 1 day ‘Introduction to Teaching’ workshop run by the University. There is then the opportunity to continue with the training and complete the Supporting Learning Programme (SLP).

As you teach modules within your department, you tend to know the theory. I am fortunate that I teach on Supply Chain and Operations Management modules which compliment my research and vice versa. I find that there are numerous benefits of teaching. Firstly it is very rewarding to educate others- even after an hour you can see the difference! Plus it is really good for improving your own understanding of the theory! I also find that it improves your interpersonal skills and ability to think on your feet. This could be for example when students ask you questions or you may need to adapt the session to improve engagement- it is amazing how some coloured pens and flipchart paper can help to get everyone involved! I have seven years work experience, most recently as a Senior Merchandise Manager at global sourcing company Li & Fung, based in Istanbul so I find this influences my teaching style. I often give examples from my industry experience and I find that the students respond well to this as it makes the theory come to life.

I actually enjoy presenting but it is normal to find it daunting standing in front of a class of students. I think teaching is actually good preparation for presenting at academic conferences both in terms of speaking in front of an audience and answering questions. The students are usually given a case study with questions for the seminar so that we are able to build on the key principles that are introduced during the lectures and develop their analytical skills. I teach first year students through to fourth year. My class sizes vary from around 15 to 30-if there are over 15 students then there are two tutors. Normally one of you takes the lead and you then both help the students if they’re working on an activity. This is an interesting dynamic and you can learn from each other.

I completed the SLP programme in my second year which I think was perfect timing. I had already taught for one year which meant I was up to speed with the course content and could spend more time focussing and analysing the delivery. The SLP programme involves attending workshops, peer observations, reading, student feedback and writing a portfolio of teaching tasks and activities. It really is a learning process and enhances your teaching ability. It is also means that you meet other PhD students from across the University. Once successfully completed you are awarded the status of “Associate fellow” of The Higher Education Academy (HEA). Many institutions find teaching experience advantageous and are making accredited status a requirement when recruiting for lecturing posts.

Overall, I have found teaching a positive experience. It is also a nice change during my working week and this helps me focus more on my research. I would certainly recommend both teaching and the SLP!

Good luck!

Amy

 

 

 

 

A place to work

Dmitry library

Unlike other institutions that might provide students only with an essential equipment, Lancaster University is happy to share plenty of facilities in order to make your studying experience comfortable and productive; in this post we will discuss their pluses and minuses.

Graduate College

Plus Minus
Regarding on-campus accommodation in Graduate College, your room will have a desk, shelves for books and papers, permanent fast internet connection. Sometimes you might need extra light and probably it will be worth buying a desk lamp either from charity shop on campus or from Wilko in downtown.
College has an area specially designed for PG students – the Social Hub. It has two rooms – one quite zone for studying, with desks and a small library, and another bigger room for chilling out and group work, where you can find pool table, darts, ping-pong table and many board games. In addition, it has a small kitchen area with sink, microwave oven and free-of-charge tea. There might be cold inside, especially in winter time. So you can either put on warm cloth or ask for a portable heater from the porters.

Apparently, if you plan to have a big event in the Social Hub like birthday celebration or international dinner you must book it at least one week in advance at college administration.

Apart from the Social Hub, there is a PC zone nearby also accessible only by PG students. It has two rooms as well – one quite zone with around 20 PCs, and a room for group work where you can find big tables and screens for practising presentations. This is a quite convenient replacement to the library since it’s nearby and is almost always free. The working space at each PC is a bit narrow because of cubicles.

Library

Plus Minus
There are plenty of computers, desks and group work spaces, so you can choose from various options where to sit and work. The library is extremely busy during exam periods (December/January, April/May), hence there are not enough free places.
There is a special zone in the library that only postgraduate students can access via their library card. It’s quite roomy and usually it is not busy. It’s much quieter than the common area which is good for concentration. Unfortunately, there are no PCs available in this area, hence you need either to bring your own laptop or move to the common area since all the PCs are located there.

Management School

Plus Minus
There is a big computer lab in LUMS with more than 30 PCs. All of them have Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 installed, so those machines are quite powerful and up-to-date. This room is good for group work that requires work on PC and discussion at the same time. Sometimes this lab is used for lectures and seminars, so check the timetable on its door to see whether it is booked or not.
There is a so-called Bloomberg lab designed for students who study finance and need to work with Bloomberg software. There are about 12 computers, each of which has 4 screens. In my personal opinion, the most powerful computers on campus are located in this lab. This lab was created by Lancaster University in partnership with Bloomberg mainly for students who study finance. Thus, although everyone can access this lab, a priority access is given to finance students.

 

 

 

How to beat the blues at Lancaster during the weekends?

Sarada Stratford-upon-Avon

Lancaster is an amazing place yet it can also be a bit quiet, especially when you want to party or chill out. This does not mean that you completely ignore the social life and only focus on academic life. It just means that you study hard while studying as no other activities at Lancaster can prevent you from doing that. And you take time out during the weekends to socialise more.

My one year at Lancaster has been brilliant, I got to meet more people at the Day trips organised by the different colleges here at Campus. These trips take us to all sorts of places, including Stratford-upon-Avon (the home of Shakespeare) and Llandudno! I also got to travel a lot cheaper with the rail card that I bought from the Uni Travel at the Alexandra Square. Manchester, one of the grand places to party near Lancaster, is quicker to reach with the number of train services that we have from Lancaster.

In addition to the travelling, I also met a lot many people at Wibbly Wobbly(burger joint at campus), Go Burrito and at Café 21.

One of the very frequent places that I hung out with my friends was Café Nero at the City Centre, which has one of the best mocha and hot chocolate in the town!

Most often, it is such places as mentioned above where you get to have meaningful conversations and which helps in beating the blues.

A few of the facilities the students are entitled at Lancaster University during their Masters

One of the best things I really like about the University is, there are many things one can try over their study here-especially when one is doing his or her Masters. There are two places in particular which I think is really important for a student doing a one-year course.

 

My academic writing was never that good because I was never used to writing in this style. The mentors at Academic writing zone (AWZ) guided me with my essays. Now, I can confidently say that I write much better than what I used to write. AWZ also has drop in sessions twice a week, where you can take your written piece of work to get opinions on how you should present your work better. One of the must know places at Lancaster University is the Academic Writing Zone.

 

Yet another place that is worth knowing at LUMS is the Career zone which consists of a dedicated team to help you with your CV, covering letter and interviews. They have drop in sessions to help with the aforementioned activities. Career Zone was one of the places I frequently visited places. They also have a huge database of videos to help in attending interviews.

The other places to keep a note are the PC labs for the Post Graduate students opposite the Graduate college’s Porters and Social hub opposite to the Grad Bar.

These are a few facilities out of the many that the Post Graduate students especially the Masters students are entitled to. See you at the AWZ!