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.

The hunt for an internship

Internships are professional learning experiences that can help build career networks and contacts. Internships are usually aimed at undergraduate or graduate students, the position involves the intern working in an organization for a fixed period, usually three to six months, sometimes without pay, to gain work experience.

Typically, an undergraduate student taking a three-year degree will partake in a summer internship after their second year. When looking for an internship, it is important to make use of all available resources. There are many websites specifically dedicated to providing undergraduate students information about available internships.  These websites can be easily found with a Google search, the websites also have filtering tools where you can narrow down the internship opportunities available with your personal interest.

Be strategic when applying for these internships, as they are usually three months long so it’s important you enjoy working at the company and will learn from the activities involved with your role there. Search for companies or job roles that will assist you in your career path. Also, make use of the careers department at the university to help find an internship and help with every stage of the application process.

Paid internships are ideal, although you don’t have your degree yet, your time, skills and knowledge gained so far at university is valuable.  There are plenty of paid internships available, for a lot of these roles you will be involved with real work rather than just administrative tasks or running errands. If you can afford it, unpaid internships or volunteering can still be extremely beneficial experiences. You can get serious work experience, build a portfolio and establish a network of professional contacts which can help you after you graduate.

In a 2013 BBC article called ‘’Internships: The competitive world of work experience” by Lindsay Baker it was said that at the time competition had never been so fierce for internships. The article also included a quote by Pullin of milkround.com, a website specialising in opportunities for young people. He estimated that for the most popular sectors such as: IT, marketing, and business – there are at least 100 applicants per internship.

It goes without saying that these internship applications should be taken as serious as applying for a real job, like you will be doing once you graduate. It is therefore pivotal to do your research on the company, they want to know why you have chosen them and why they should choose you. It can be tempting to use the same generic answers for each application but taking the time out to learn more about the company and submitting a bespoke application specific to them will help you stand out.

“After carefully considering your responses, unfortunately on this occasion we will not be progressing your application.”

Some of us are familiar with the dreaded automated message above, finding out all out time and effort have been to no avail. The average student goes through several different applications before they are successful. These applications are extremely lengthy and can be quite tedious. It can also be discouraging when you have passed through many of the application stages but fail to pass the final stage, it’s a case of so close, yet so far. The optimistic way to look at these unsuccessful applications is that they are good experience that you can learn from for the next application, so don’t give up.

Some companies do not give feedback for on an unsuccessful application, especially in the initial stages, in this case do not hesitate to contact them and request feedback, doesn’t hurt to try. Most companies however provide feedback for applicants who become unsuccessful after the online ability tests/assessment tests stage, for example a Numerical Reasoning Test Feedback Report, which may tell you your score on the test and some actions to improve in the future.  They can also send you a Candidate Feedback Report which will include your strengths and weaknesses in each test. It can be useful to the read this feedback and if you agree with their criticism, work on a plan to improve your performance on these tests.

Also, note that companies have numerous opportunities for undergraduate students so if you weren’t successful in a programme, maybe there’s another one that you’re better suited for. Good luck on the applications!

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.

 

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.

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.

How to settle in Lancaster University – join clubs and societies

What makes you different than your peers? Do you want to gain additional experience in addition to your academics? Do you want to have fun?Sarada Dragon Boat

If you have answers to all the above three questions read further else, read the article anyway! University is an amazing place to be where you can do new things without having to worry about how ‘uncool’ you might look or how costly it would be to take try a new activity. There are countless clubs and activities that you can be a part of. Click the link http://bit.ly/29idccq that can navigate you to your specific requirement of ‘Life at Lancaster’.

 

Joining clubs and societies is also a way of meeting new people with diverse interests. I have had many special moments after joining the clubs and societies but there is one such event that was the best. I had the opportunity to take part in the Dragon Boat Race and represent at the University at Liverpool. We won the third place. This was an amazing experience as I had never rowed before and most of my team mates did not have prior experience as well! You could meet your next best friend at one of these socials. What are you waiting for? Go and have that fun!

Baby steps after reaching Lancaster- What, where and how to shop on student budgets?

Welcome to Lancaster, a city that guarantees new experiences to your one or many years of academic life! I am Sarada, an MSc Management student of the 2015-2016 batch. Life at Lancaster for me was an amazing experience. To start with, it is not difficult to travel in this small town with a population of around 50,000 and the people are really friendly here. The city centre is the best shopping place to buy things.

City2

Landing at your accommodation, you realize that you need to shop to settle in. Though the options of shopping at amazon and online shopping for groceries exist, it is a ritual undertaken by students to do their first shopping at the town. Travelling to the city by bus is one of the most convenient and cheap method of transportation. It takes about 2.50 to travel to the town and back to the University. The few places that are frequented by students to economically shop are:

  1. Wilko- bedding pack, detergents, stationary, cutlery, utensils, bathing products
  2. Poundland- everything is for a pound, but do not expect to see a wide variety of products
  3. Sainsbury- monthly groceries
  4. Mountain Warehouse- one stop destination to stock up on Winter wear
  5. Iceland- exclusive store to buy frozen products

Happy Shopping and do not forget to explore the other shops in the town!