“Major” and “Minor” Decisions

Okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a bit of a nerd. I’m also horribly indecisive. And a chronic worrier. That combination of traits meant that for me, personally, it was very difficult to decide what I wanted to study post A-level.  I enjoyed all of my subjects and simply wasn’t sure which one to choose.  I couldn’t imagine abandoning any of them. Equally, the thought of a future career seemed to loom large – how could I make sure that I gained all the necessary “employability” skills? What if I picked the wrong course and spent three years regretting it?

£9,250 a year sure feels like a lot of money if you don’t get it right.

Eventually, I decided to take some time out and worked for a while at a school, where my former boss noted my enthusiasm during the school’s academy re-branding, as well as my aptitude for updating the school’s social media and blog – and suggested I study Marketing. Nonetheless, even this decision still felt pretty terrifying. I hadn’t studied business at Sixth Form. What if I found it too challenging? What if it was too dry? Or exponentially worse… what if there was too much maths? It felt like such a gamble…

Luckily, Lancaster offers the perfect solution for those as risk-averse as me.

In your first year, in most degree programmes, you’re not restricted to studying just one subject, you can pick three! Yes, you heard right… three! But hang on, before you start panicking about having to re-write your entire personal statement – the process is really simple. Although you apply for your “major” subject during the UCAS process, once you arrive at Lancaster, you are then able to choose modules from two additional subjects – known as your “minors”.  This allows you to keep your options open. As well as studying your major subject, you can opt to try something new, to pick something that complements it… or merely to continue with a subject that you enjoyed at A Level. If you find that you prefer your minor subject, you then have the option to swap courses at the end of the year.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about struggling with my Marketing course: I’m really enjoying it. However, I’ve found the topics that I’ve studied in my minor subjects – Sociology and Media and Cultural Studies – to have been incredibly relevant; really enhancing my understanding of Marketing.

For example, in MCS, we’ve recently been exploring the theme of power in the media; looking at the dominance of corporations such as Google and Facebook and Viacom, thinking about the influence that they have over the content that we see. For example, did you know Google is used for 95.3% of search on mobile in the UK, whilst Google and Facebook between them owned 9 of the top 10 most used Apps in the UK in 2015? Although not blindingly obvious at first, this has big implications for the world of marketing. When these organisations have such a wide potential-consumer reach and high revenue, it can perhaps make it more difficult for companies to demand change regarding issues such as brand safety and inappropriate content. Will Google really notice if M&S withdraw their adverts from YouTube?

Studying the representation of minority groups in a previous block also made me think about how well companies are representing and meeting the specific needs of those such as the disabled, those from a BME background or elderly people in their offerings.

In Sociology meanwhile, we’ve been looking at how human behaviour has changed and evolved over time. Observations such as an increased focus on individual responsibility for health in society, or a change towards a faster, more individualistic pace of lifestyle are definitely relevant to marketing – just look at how well McDonald’s has adapted to these developments. Marketers constantly need to consider how consumer needs and lifestyles may change in the future.

But it’s not just from an academic perspective that I feel studying minor subjects has enriched my university experience – it’s also allowed me to develop a brilliantly diverse range of friends. It means I can go from geeking-out about Nike’s latest communications campaign with one group of mates, to debating the effects of neo-liberalism with another. It means I’m in classes with people studying English and Economics and Computing and French and Politics. Luckily, it also means I’ve been able to make friends with some wonderfully kind people who study Maths as well as Marketing…

Ultimately, the minor system allows you to explore your options. You can pick a subject because you think it will enhance your employability skills, because you were strong at it at A Level or because you’ve always fancied trying it and never had the chance. Whatever you pick though, you can guarantee it will make your first year at Lancaster just that little bit more enjoyable. You can always change your mind next year…

Why BSc Management, Politics & International Relations?

Management, Politics & International Relations (MPIR) is one of the most interesting and relevant courses on offer at Lancaster University. As a student at Lancaster, you are constantly doing new things and meeting new people. One question you will be asked no end is ‘What course do you do?’. When I answer ‘Management, Politics & International Relations’, the response is often a mixture of intrigue and bemusement. For many, the way in which these very different disciplines link into each other is far from obvious. But in reality, their intersection answers some of the most pertinent questions of our age.

How?

It is no longer enough to view business and management as insular institutions, separated from and distinct from the wider world. They exist and operate within a context of a rapidly changing and interconnected world, where the established order of things is being transformed and destabilised by political phenomena: an ascendant China, rising Western populism, a Fourth Industrial Revolution fuelled by advances in artificial intelligence and online connectivity, and commerce across borders. Each of these changes present both challenges and opportunities – not just for politics, but for business, and managers will be at the forefront of facing them. Increasingly, employers desire individuals possessing not just the technical knowledge of how to manage, but also an ability to apply and adapt that knowledge to our changing world. Business takes place across borders; but an understanding of what occurs within and between those borders is essential to the practice of effectively doing business.

Okay, but where does MPIR fit in to all that?

That’s where this course comes in! I am in my first year of the programme, and my study is currently split three-ways between management, politics and international relations, and philosophy. In the management modules OWT.100 and OWT.101, you gain an understanding of the historical development of managerial practices and managerialism as a discipline, and the key issues and debates affecting management today. In Politics 100, you are introduced to the theory and practice of political philosophy, domestic politics, and international relations. In Philosophy 100, you grapple with the ethical and wider philosophical questions which underpin the theories of management and politics, and gain skills to read and write in a logical and analytical manner.

One of the most satisfying things about the course has been seeing how these three disciplines intersect with and complement one another. By analysing the moral philosophy of John Stuart Mill in philosophy, you can better understand issues surrounding business ethics and motivation in management. Learning about human resource management and ideas of organisational culture in management is contextualised by study of the liberal underpinnings of our democracy in politics. Logic and critical analysis in philosophy aids you in assessing the strength of arguments in sources for politics essays. Each aspect of the course benefits the other, and you often find yourself applying theories learned in one aspect in coursework for others.

Is grappling with so many subjects and issues at once challenging?

Of course! But university isn’t about taking an easy ride – it’s about challenging yourself, confronting difficult issues, and constantly bettering yourself. MPIR certainly enables this. Although you encounter many new and complex ideas, the teaching at Lancaster equips you well to deal with them. Complementing lectures, each week you have seminars for management, politics, and philosophy. These are taken in small groups with dedicated tutors who you have week in and week out. In these seminars, you get an opportunity to discuss and debate what you have learned; critically analyse the reading you are set; prepare and plan for coursework; and discuss any difficulties or points of interest you have with a knowledgeable tutor. In addition to this, we have regular meetings with Bogdan, our course director, who discusses the course and our progress in-depth with us in a friendly environment. You are also assigned an academic advisor who will stay with you for the duration of your time at Lancaster University and discuss any aspect of your study and university life with you on a one-on-one basis.

What about Year 2 of the course and beyond?

There are two things in particular that I’m really looking forward to about the later stages of this degree. Firstly, there is the greater degree of choice and flexibility in Year 2. Alongside compulsory modules in Business Ethics and Social Research Methods, there are a huge range of modules in management and politics and international relations to choose from. I’m especially intrigued by some of the modules in entrepreneurship and marketing on offer as these would present whole new endeavours for me. Year 4 also offers a great deal of choice in this respect. But first…

Year 3 is a year in industry. We’ll start preparing for this soon with the Management 150 module, where we’ll learn how to write a good CV, undertake mock interviews with large organisations, and look at a range of employability skills. I’m undecided on where to do my work placement at present: it could be a small business, a large multinational, an NGO, or even the government. Wherever I go, I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge from Years 1 and 2 in a practical management context – and of course making a bit of money, too!

 

4 key tips when starting University

Starting university is certainly a very exciting time for a whole load of different reasons. Moving away from home, meeting new people, and studying something you enjoy are just some of the reasons why so many simply cannot wait to pack their bags, and commence what people often regard as the best years of their life. There is no doubting that university is a brilliant experience, but this is not to say it doesn’t come with its challenges. Here are 4 things to keep in mind right from the off at Lancaster University.

  1. Go to Fresher’s Fair

Often missed by many due to other Fresher’s Week traditions, the Fresher’s Fair is an absolute must during your first week at university. The event provides a great opportunity for you to find out about the abundance of things that Lancaster University offers. In particular, it will give you the chance to meet over 200 different clubs and societies. From Baking to Belly Dancing, you really are spoilt for choice and are bound to find something for you. Even if you have no interest of joining any societies, just go along for the freebies, and you may even pick up a pasty or two.

  1. Take a good look round

Lancaster University’s campus may not be the biggest, but you wouldn’t say it’s small either, and getting to know your way round will probably take you a bit of time. However, Fresher’s Week will give you a good opportunity to take a walk around the campus and learn where everything is located a bit better. I recommend you put aside some time in your first week to do this since campus is usually relatively quiet in this period, and before you know it, you will find yourself having to navigate to your first lecture in a busy environment. Make sure you pay a visit to where your academic subject is located and know where you can get your groceries. Also, look out for campus tours running during Fresher’s Week. These will save you from using a map to navigate around the university.

  1. Stay on top of your work

I understand there is a strong temptation when starting university to ease yourself in and start off slow. After all, you’ve just arrived, and you want to have a bit of fun, right? I would recommend easing yourself in as you will be in a new environment and things will be different. But make sure you don’t fall into the trap of not doing any work for the first month. I don’t want to speak like I am your parents here, but it is important you go to your lectures, and do the work which is required of you. Lancaster University is not a top ten institution for nothing, students are expected to work hard. Of course, a lot of university is about enjoying yourself and having a good time but remember to not forget the main reason you have come to university!

  1. Don’t leave coursework until the last minute

And here we are, the piece of advice we’ve all heard so many times before. Whoever tells us though, and despite how many times they do, students have an inherent tendency to not start their coursework until the night before and submit the all-important piece of work thirty seconds before the deadline. There are a couple of reasons why I’d opt against this. Firstly, there is a strong chance that your first piece of coursework will involve you having to do some kind of referencing. Now, unless I am the only exception, it takes students some time to get their head around the different components of referencing, and what format the University expects. This in itself is a reason to start your coursework early, as the last thing you want is having to figure out how to reference at 4am, as the deadline quickly approaches. The second reason is that depending on your degree, you are likely to have a few different pieces to submit at around the same time. Leaving them all to the last few days could just be too much to handle.

My First Exam in the UK

As I entered the registration hall in the first week, my heart pounded heavily. I did not know what to do, where to go. Was it too late to go back? Of course, it was. I was not only in a different country but also in a different continent. At that point in time, I was just following everyone because they seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going. We ultimately reached the final destination of the day, the Management School: The place that LUMS postgraduates absolutely worship. The Hub, the Lecture Theatres, the meeting rooms – I had never seen a place like that. I was sitting with a few of my classmates and they all were talking about Lancaster and the University as if they had known it for ages. As it turned out…they did. They had all done their undergraduates at Lancaster University and I had no idea what was happening around me anymore. I felt overwhelmed and anxious and I kept quiet, taking it all in.

As days passed by, we got busier with lectures and assignments but at the same time, we grew closer to each other. The journey had begun, and we spent the days learning and the nights exploring the University. Soon, the first module was over and so was the second and before we realised, it was exam time. With just a week left for the exam, the late-night excursions had taken a halt and the late-night coffees had replaced them to ensure that we were burning the midnight oil. There was chaos and confusion everywhere. This was a big thing. It was the first module and we all wanted to leave a mark. Being from different educational backgrounds, we all were facing challenges. Most of us had never studied business modules before and jumping right into Marketing and thinking like a Marketing Manager was difficult. The exam was case based. We were provided with a case and had to scrutinise it well before the exam. In the exam, we were asked questions based on the case and had to answer them in an essay style. This was very new, especially for someone like me. My last essay-based exam was in primary school and being from CBSE board (Central Board for Secondary Education, India), I was cut out for point to point answers. Luckily my lecturer was a sweetheart. She gave us precise directions of what she needed and also made us practice with a mini case in the class. On top of that, we were also provided with past paper questions. All these resources ensured that we were fully equipped to face the exam.

On the final day of the examination, I prayed to all the Gods and reminded myself that I would be fine because of all the group studying sessions I had with my classmates and the resources that were provided by my professor. I went for the exam and “answered the questions”, precisely as mentioned by my lecturer and as it turned out, I managed to get a distinction!

 

 

Guest blogger Alexandra Ursu: The world is in Millennials’ hands

I am a 20-year-old Millennial who wants to change the world. Despite all the critics and the bad press we receive, our voices matter – and I can prove it. Individuals, who are part of a movement, striving for change for a more sustainable world, surround me. What is making me so positive about our impact on the future of Planet Earth? Towards the end of last year, along with a team of nine other students, I attended the World Business Council for Sustainable Development meeting in Mexico City, a revealing experience that has demonstrated that forward-thinkers recognize our importance in driving change.

Why are people so reticent when it comes to our generation? Some may say it is because of our narcissistic behavior, placing us in the centre of our own universe, without considering the impact of our actions on others. According to a recent research conducted by Red Brick, 80% of hiring managers claim that their Millennial employees display narcissistic tendencies. Other people may say our lives are driven by technology, spending most of our time with our eyes stuck to devices with aspirations revolving around the number of likes we get or followers we have. I must be honest and admit that, for the majority of us, being popular on social media boosts our confidence. But is anybody thinking about the motives behind this seemingly superficial behaviour? Millennials are constantly facing criticism without being allowed to show our true colours. Therefore, online validation is the last resort we have – our last hope to be noticed and appreciated. You may consider it a scream for attention!

I strongly believe that, while making such bold statements, older generations forget one essential detail: their own children or grandchildren represent Millennials. Therefore, part of our behaviour has been directly influenced and shaped by them and the family environment we grew up in. Some parents are trying to get to grips with Millennial behaviour to show support to their children. It is no secret that even older generations now use all sorts of social platforms as a daily routine – so how fair is it to accuse the Millennials of something that the majority of individuals do? Did you know that, according to CNN Exit Polls, 55% of Millennials voted for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election? Most would be quick to blame the Millenials…

The conflict between generations has escalated quickly in the past few years. But the gap between generations has its roots well anchored in the past. “Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect their elders and love talking instead of exercise”. It may sound like a perfect description of a Millennial in the eyes of a sceptic, but it is in fact Socrates’ view dating back to the 4th Century AD.

 ‘Millennials are often portrayed as apathetic, disinterested, tuned out and selfish. None of those adjectives describe the Millennials I’ve been privileged to meet and work with’ – quite a powerful quote from Chelsea Clinton, but would you agree? I want to prove her right using the power of example.

Last year, I was invited to apply to take part in a fieldtrip module that gave the students the opportunity to work as session hosts at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) meeting in Mexico City. WBCSD is a not-for-profit CEO-led organisation, uniting over 200 world-leading businesses to try to accelerate us all to a more sustainable world. This year’s meeting was concentrated on showcasing good examples of business practices to help us get closer to realizing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting brought together some of the most important companies in the world, offering them the perfect environment to collaborate and share ideas in order to find the most efficient solutions to the key issues they incur in their effort of delivering more sustainable business practices.

What drove me to apply for this unique opportunity? The desire of bringing actual change to the world we all live in, the need to make my voice heard, a passion for demonstrating that, despite the negative image that has artificially been created of the Millennials, my generation is still willing to play an active role in driving change for the future of humanity. With hopes and dreams, I submitted my application and, one month later, I was informed that I was one of the 10 students from Lancaster selected for the role. The competition was tough, with over 400 students invited to apply. Each one of the selected students is the living proof that the Millennials are not just a group of people thinking about money and luxury, but want to learn how they can drive change into the world.

I worked with passionate individuals and most importantly, as a team; we have demonstrated that there is still something good to say about our generation. How can we be called selfish when we are dedicating our time into helping those in need? For example, I have always been interested in sustainability and as Chief Information Officer for UNICEF Lancaster University; I had the chance to see the passion in the eyes of 2,000 University students who were giving up their free time to organize different fund-raising events for children in need. There is no other motivation for those volunteers apart from the desire to give something back to Society, playing a role in offering a chance to feed or educate those who are not as fortunate as them. Our latest event, Fast24, is a manifesto against hunger, and 20 volunteers will be living without food for 24 hours in order to raise awareness of the situation of millions of people in low developed areas of the world, empathizing with them and encouraging others to donate so that the money will be used to feed children in those areas. And I am not the only member of our Student Ambassadors Team concerned about the wellbeing of others. Other colleagues have sacrificed their summer in order to volunteer to teach English to African children. Therefore, the first thing that my WBCSD experience has reinforced is that the Millennials do have souls and that we are capable of making a difference. This has been proved by the interest the attendants had in hearing what we, the students, were thinking about some of the most pressing environmental problems to date, offering us the opportunity to play an active role in the debates and workshops delivered.

The other thing that I have learned is that our opinion does really matter for those who are willing to listen. During the days spent at the WBCSD Council Meeting in Mexico City, our team was involved in the majority of sessions and workshops delivered by dignitaries and World Business Leaders. I cannot find words to describe how revealing and inspirational the overall WBCSD Council Meeting experience was for us. There is no better environment for a Millennial to realize their importance on the face of Earth, as delegates recognized our power in changing the course of Mother Earth for the better. Their openness to our ideas, their willingness to hear our opinion on the issues discussed, the incredible support for our work and the overwhelming encouragement they expressed for us in order to spread our wings and to change the world for the better are my dose of inspiration for a lifetime.

Therefore, the WBCSD experience showed 10 Millennials feeling Society’s pressure and blame on their shoulders that this generation is still powerful for all the right reasons. Under the guidance and support of older generations, with a new vibe and innovatory visions, the Millennials can change something. We grew up in a world dominated by pollution and waste, which means that we are aware of the problems our planet is facing in terms of sustainability. With dedication and hard work, we are willing to find solutions, we are willing to fight for a cleaner world, we are willing to inspire, and we are willing to fight for good.

 

My graduate plan

‘‘So, what are your plans for after you graduate?’’I am sure that for many students, like myself, who have entered their final year at university, this question has become a regular occurrence in conversations. It seems that final year lights a spark and leads career plans, graduate schemes and interviews to become a part of your daily personal thoughts.

At the start of the academic year, my plan reflected that of many of my course mates. I planned to update my CV, apply for graduate schemes and enter into the graduate market…Studying a Masters degree was not an option I had even considered.

However, speaking to some of my friends in the graduate market and friends who are currently studying a Masters degree, they expressed that they recognised the enjoyment and positive attitude I have towards education and encouraged me to consider furthering my studies.

At first, the thought of studying a Masters degree was a little scary for myself. I worried that it would be too challenging and I was apprehensive about remaining in education whilst my friends and coursemates progressed into graduate jobs. However, I admit, I became intrigued about the option and started to have a look at what courses were available.

By exploring Masters courses and the modules that different courses offered, my interest in progressing my learning grew. I discovered that many universities were offering an International Business course and this was an appealing option because I am interested in learning about culture and have enjoyed the international perspectives I have been given so far on my course. Not only that, but with ambitions to work within an international firm, studying International Business would be in line with my career plans and provide me with greater depth and understanding about operating in international markets.

So… having been drawn in by the courses available, I decided to apply for some courses.

It’s 4 months on and having accepted a conditional offer, I can finally say I know what my plans are for after I complete my final year at Lancaster University! Having reached this point I thought it would be a chance to share some advice and tips for if you are considering applying for a Masters degree.

  1. Apply on the university website: When I was researching courses and looking at university websites I found that, unlike applying for an undergraduate degree, you apply for a Masters course directly on the website of the university you want to apply to.
  2. Personal Statement: The personal statement is your chance to let the university know more about your interests in the course and your motivations for studying a Masters degree. One tip I can share is to make the personal statement specific to the university you are applying to. I did this by mentioning a module I was looking forward to or a facility at the university that I would like to make use of.
  3. Seek Advice: From my experience I highly recommend that you seek feedback from friends or a careers advisor once you have written your personal statement and CV. When completing my applications I went to a drop-in clinic and attended a one-to-one appointment with the careers advisors at Lancaster University Management School. These sessions were really helpful as the careers advisors shared their advice about how to make your personal statement stand out.

Is Being Catered Worth It? Or Am I Just Lazy?

I hope your week has been as exciting as mine! Although it feels as if we, freshers, have been thrown into a whirlwind of work, at the end of the day, it’s comforting to know that you can head back to your flat, relax and share a laugh with your flatmates. Or, for those who consistently apply their studies to every aspect of their life, argue about whether some corporations’ treatment of workers is justifiable, or if catered accommodation is a sunk cost… (Maybe? Maybe not? I wish I knew).

Speaking of catered accommodation, it’s awesome! No one can cook as well as my mother (shout out to the best mother!!), however being catered gives you the liberty to forget about planning meals, shopping for groceries, and if you’re like me, avoid sulking over the fact that the only food you can cook (properly) are eggs and pasta. Nevertheless, if you’re a true “Masterchef” or simply feeling adventurous, living in non-catered accommodation will improve your culinary skills while consolidating your time-management and organisational skills and prepare you to be a versatile, adept human being (which is why we’re at university- am I right?).

Which brings me to my next point about being a student, which is having the ability to choose. I know that sounds rather simple and obvious, but university makes you conscious of this power to decide for yourself and take control of most, if not all, aspects of your life. It may seem like a daunting task, but with the support of your friends and the University it isn’t difficult at all. And of course, this capability or power can only be of good use if you take every opportunity available that will help you grow and enrich your life immensely. And Lancaster University offers you plenty of such opportunities. From fostering your passions within your academic field to helping you venture into new areas and develop skills from there. Remember, university is the ideal place for growth, so don’t hesitate to keep learning; because one day, after all your enriching experiences, you’ll realize how far you’ve come and feel like you’re flying high above the clouds -equipped with the wings of knowledge and experiences that will carry you throughout the rest of your life.

And during this journey, you’ll never be alone. I am very grateful for the people I’ve met here-especially my wonderful friends (I might change my mind after I spend a year living with them, but hopefully not. Just kidding, friends). But don’t worry. Even if you don’t find the right friends in the first few weeks, there will come a time when you come across someone who is just as into music, film or chocolate cake as you are (feel free to send me a message and we can talk about the sublimity of chocolate!!) and then feel more connected to the wonderful community in the University. If you ask for my opinion, I would say that I couldn’t ask for more.

When the going gets tough…

Most people seem to think that if you are pursuing a PhD you must be super intelligent. Which they also assume means you must have ample confidence in yourself. It is no use telling them that you suffer from as many insecurities about your talents and capabilities as the next person, because in their opinion if you have set yourself such a huge mountain to climb, you must know you have it in you.

The truth is that I find myself low on self-confidence a lot of the time. And I have come to realise that this feeling is fairly common among PhD students. Apparently we tend to suffer from what is called the ‘impostor syndrome’: The feeling that you are inadequate or incapable despite evidence to the contrary.

My confidence level also has a way of yo-yoing so that at one point I am on top of a mountain, soaring high and marvelling how I have at long last found my true calling, and another time I am down in the dumps, wondering what got into me to take on such a herculean project. I start questioning everything from the validity of my research topic to my thoroughness in doing the literature review to my experience in the academic jungle to the possibility of ever seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It can be a pretty quick downward tumble from there, luckily for me stopping short of actually calling it quits, but I have heard stories of people who take the exit route.

Over time, I have learnt a few ways to deal with these blows to my confidence:

  • Remember why you started a PhD. Chances are that if you are on this very tough journey, you have thought long and hard about it. You may have also made certain difficult choices in life or career because you wanted this so badly. Had you not put all of yourself into making this happen, you wouldn’t have earned a place at such a prestigious university. If you could get yourself this far, it is only up to you to take yourself further.
  • Think of the last time you felt a rush of confidence. It may have been a small accomplishment or a big one, but if you had reason to feel great about how you were doing then, the reasons are most likely still valid and solid. This low phase will pass soon enough if you focus on doing what you have been doing.
  • Think about how far you have come. You probably remember how daunting everything seemed when you first started, and how you never really expected to make it at almost every step. Not only did you make it, you did remarkably well too, be it acclimatising yourself to the new environment or developing a good relationship with your supervisors or taking all those difficult training modules or digging through tons of literature.
  • Stop comparing yourself with others. You might be tempted to compare yourself with others who started at the same time as you. Very often it will seem like they have a far better hold on what they’re doing while you haven’t the faintest clue. They may have started collecting data or completed writing a conference paper while you’re still putting together a proposal for your upgrade panel. Remember that this is your PhD and your journey… and you are its sole architect. How you approach it and how much time you take to build it depends entirely on what you’re fashioning.
  • Talk to family and friends. Talk to people who believe in you. Knowing that they believe in you more than you do can be motivating (though a bit annoying too because your feelings of inadequacy and incompetency are invalidated). It would also help to have someone with whom you can share your research and progress. Many a time I have found solutions to problems simply by talking to a friend who merely listened to me go on about it.
  • Take mini breaks. When you are really feeling like it, take a few days off all thoughts of research and writing and deadlines and do whatever it is you feel like doing or do nothing if that’s what you feel like. Think of it as some sort of reward for working so hard. I don’t know about you but at the end of that period, I bounce back with more energy and feeling a lot more positive. Quite strangely, I also tend to come up with better ideas almost out of the blue. You know what they say about the subconscious mind being at work…
  • Visualise a wonderful future. The PhD may be your stepping stone to a fulfilling career or it may be an end in itself. Try visualising what it would be like to be at the end of that road, having fulfilled your dream or goal. Imagine how you would feel, how the people in your life would feel, and how much you would like to be there. These bumps along the way are speed breakers but they can’t stop you from getting where you want to be.

Well, these are a few techniques that seem to help me bounce back. What about you? What do you do when the going gets tough?

4 Reasons Why You Should Definitely Get a Part-Time Job

Attending university in the UK is expensive, there’s no getting around it. With tuition fees currently at £9250 a year (and that’s for UK students – international students can often find themselves paying more) and costs of living on the rise, it is no wonder that more students find themselves taking on part-time work alongside their studies. In fact, in a survey conducted by Endsleigh (2015), it was estimated that eight out of ten – around 77% of students – are currently working part-time to help fund their studies.

I am one of these students. I currently work most evenings for the university Alumni Office, which amounts to between 10 and 12 hours a week, and I am a strong advocate for being employed during your degree. Here’s why:

  1. It’s another opportunity to make new friends – University is all about meeting new people and having a part-time job is another way to make friends. Most people I work with are also students but they all have very different backgrounds and I would probably have never met them had it not been for this job.
  2. Financial independence – This one goes without saying. Knowing that you have money coming into your bank account at the end of the month is a great feeling, especially when you know that you worked hard to earn it.
  3. Gaining transferable skills for your CV – Even though the part-time job you get is unlikely to be directly related to your dream career, the skills you gain on the job will be very useful when you start applying for internships/jobs after graduating. Fundraising probably won’t be my long-term career path, but the skills I have gained from this job, such as negotiation and the ability to meet targets, are highly valued in whichever career I chose to pursue.
  4. Having less time actually forces you to get more done – This is a bit of a weird one but hear me out: because I know that 12 hours of my week will be spent at work and another 11 hours spent in lectures and seminars I have to manage my time very effectively, especially if I want to get in a good 7-8 hours sleep a night and spend some time with my friends. Ironically, the less I have to do, the less I get done.

Lancaster University is great for helping you find a part-time job, with regular updates about job opportunities on the iLancaster app and a great Careers Service that will help you with your application, either by having a look at your CV or doing mock interviews or sorting out any problems you might have with P45 forms (which are the opposite of fun).

Note: It is worth mentioning that international students may have some restrictions on the number of hours they are allowed to work, as per the terms of their visa. Make sure you double check this before applying to jobs. Also some degree courses (Medicine, Postgraduate etc.) are particularly intense, so it is also a good idea to consult your course adviser about whether you could feasibly commit to a part-time job during your studies.