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.

How to earn money while studying

How to earn money

Students have different incentives when they start searching for opportunities that could help them earn some cash: someone wants to add this experience to LinkedIn/CV, someone wants to meet new people, someone wants to buy a new pair of shoes… Here are some tips how you can fund yourself at Lancaster University.

Find a job: Lancaster University
Lancaster University has an Employment and Recruitment Service that offers wide range of jobs. You can apply for a temporary job that is usually designed to cover needs of a particular project – for example, conference assistant, or burger maker at a music festival. The spectrum of such jobs varies – they could be either intelligent or physical, either on campus or off campus, etc. The payment rate usually starts from £7/hour, but bear in mind that you will be required to provide a CV and a Cover letter of yours, so there is competition and selection process for any of those vacancies. Permanent jobs are designed for those who want to become a part of Lancaster University staff, so mainly such jobs are suitable for those who have work permit in the UK. For those who approached the UK with a visa, your working time must not exceed 20 hours per week. I took one of those, and it brought me £70.

Find a job: Lancaster
There are plenty of part-time jobs in the town centre, so just google them. Alternatively, while walking in the downtown keep an eye on any vacancies announced on the doors/windows of the business premises. Many of my friends used to work in the restaurants that specialised in the cuisine of their origin – Thai people worked in Thai cafe, Chinese – in Chinese restaurant, etc. Personally, I did not take any of those jobs.

Take part in research activities
There are many PhD students studying at Lancaster University, and most of them conduct experiments required for their dissertations. They often advertise those experiments either online or through the traditional paper advert on campus. If you participate, you will be rewarded in two possible ways – cash or voucher (usually Amazon voucher). For instance, Psychology department even has its own online research system, so you just need to register and monitor availability of studies. I took part in more than 50 experiments during 2015-2016 academic year, and it helped me earn more than £500. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend that you keep your academic studies number one priority.

Become a Postgraduate Student Ambassador
Read this post for more details. Being a PG ambassador helped me earn around £1,000 a year.

Win business challenges
Read this post for more details. I earned £100 through winning a 3rd place in one of the challenges.

To sum up, I managed to earn around £1,670 throughout my academic year in Lancaster University doing some extracurricular activities. There are many opportunities, so it’s entirely your choice what to do. Good luck!

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!