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.

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.

10 New Words I Learnt at LUMS

As an international student, learning about new words stimulates my linguistic inclination. By learning I also mean experiencing words that I already know in a different way. New words mixed with experiences are synergic; I find them fascinating and sometimes amusing. In this blog post I will write about my top 10 new words that I learnt at LUMS, starting with those that any international student could come across and followed by those that a LUMS or a graduate student in particular would be very likely experience. I choose these words because my experience of them has been either exciting, practical or pleasantly homely. A small story for each word tells why I found it particularly fascinating.

  • Flatmate: Flatmate is the commonly used word for housemate in the UK. My flatmates are the students who I have met since my first day at Lancaster Uni. We shared not only the flat, but also food, nights out, pictures, laughs, hobbies and life contemplations. We looked out for each other. My flatmates made me feel like I belong.
  • The weather: This is one of the most common topics you’ll hear a British person talk about. It is often unexpected and sometimes rainy, cold, lovely, sunny or snowy. And sometimes it’s all of them in one day! As someone who likes hiking, my outdoors motto is that “there is no bad weather but there are only bad clothes.” That’s why my big puffer coat is an essential item of clothing and part of my outfit on most days. Even though it’s cold in the north west of England, people have their warmth in their hearts.
  • The steam train: During the summer term, I travelled by regular train to go to Carlisle where I was doing some training. The steam train runs during the spring and summer between Lancaster and Carlisle, and the other passengers and I would see it majestically arriving in the morning at the train station. A peak inside allowed me to see the impressive décor and was enough to take me a century back in time.
  • Marmite: Commonly known by its brand name, this product is also found under the yeast extract category. I heard people say that you either love it or hate it, and I happened to quite like it. I often venture with food combinations and I accidentally found out that it goes well with certain types of jam.
  • Quorn: I discovered Quorn in the UK while looking for vegetarian meat alternatives. It offers a wide variety of products and is a good source of proteins. I found it to be a practical food and it goes well in a curry.
  • Reflexivity: As a LUMS student, being reflexive not only got me high marks, but also made me aware of the way my learning affected my professional and personal development and my view of the world. I try to apply this process to both important events and daily incidents that became a part of my routine.
  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking is an expression that I frequently hear in my lessons at LUMS. It’s an essential yet challenging skill and we practice it when reading, writing and reflecting. I even use it outside of academic coursework, for example when choosing to watch a film.
  • Dispersed leadership: Even though it’s not the most common type of leadership that is found in academic and personal development books, it’s one that sparked my curiosity. This is because it made me realise the different aspects, people and places in which leadership exists, and so it helps me put myself in other people’s shoes and try to understand them, a skill that I find quite important when interacting with people at university and work.
  • Graduate social hub: The graduate social hub is another place that makes me feel at home. It is situated near the graduate students’ dorms. It contains a quiet room for studying and a social room that has games, books, a ping pong and a foosball table. It also has a kitchenette with an endless supply of tea and coffee. I would metaphorise it as the graduates’ living room.
  • Grad bar: The Grad bar is our meeting place in the evening. Pubs are an important part of community life in the UK, and Grad bar is our communal one. It’s a place where I made new friends and enjoyed live student bands and drinks.

Whether they relate to a place, food or thought, my experience of these words continues to be absorbing. Learning new words and experiences still happens to me now as much as it did when I first moved to Lancaster, and as I got more and more involved with the campus life, the studying, the shopping and meeting new people.

Going Frugal- It’s not just about managing finances, it is about managing yourself…

Frugality- the quality of being economical with money.

For all those who are living on their own for the first time, this too shall pass and when it does, you will emerge as a different person. I came to Lancaster University with the dream of becoming a Manager and landing a good job. Little did I know that the first step of the process would be to be a manager of myself. From studying to cooking to managing a budget, you are on your own. The degree teaches you far more than just the modules. This was the first time I was in-charge of myself. I’ve lived on my own during my undergraduate but there things are different, pocket-money was just a phone call away and moreover, there weren’t any currency conversions to be kept in mind. I came to the UK with 500 Pounds, thinking that it’ll last at least 4 months, after all, they were 40,000 Indian Rupees and how much could I spend?

After the first month and an expense of almost half the money that I possessed it became very clear to me that I’d have two options, either I can cut down on my expenses (which was usually spent on buying food and, being a Punjabi, that’s something you cannot compromise on) or I could earn more money by doing part-time job. I wasn’t thinking too much and I chose to go with the first option as with classes from 9-5, I wanted some time to explore as well, so getting a  job was postponed till the next semester. It was time to strategise my frugality plan and more or less it was simple for me.  I had to focus on where I spent the money most (except food, of course) and cut down those expenses to a minimum. However, I wasn’t as simple as I  thought. The pattern wasn’t consistent. With a month of struggle and just 90 pounds left, the third month began and that’s when I came across the Master Plan as I like to call it. I still follow it and it is an amazing way where you don’t even realise you are saving money. All you need to do is save 10 pence on day one and keep adding 10 pence to it the next day. It follows the laws of Arithmetic Progression (flaunting Mathematics-my dad will be so proud of me!!! ). By the end of the first month, I had already saved 15.5 pounds. It isn’t a large sum of money but considering I had 90 when I started and I managed to save 15 pounds, I went straight to Greggs and ate a cookie. After all, I deserved it! Treat yourself and be frugal!

Guest Post: MSc Management Student Keira talks about her experiences of the course

While sitting in the backyard and enjoying Christmas time, I started to receive sweet greeting messages from my MSc Management cohort. When those beautiful words floated onto my screen, I had no words to describe how lucky I felt to be in this cohort.

Graduating with a first honours degree in BSc Marketing from Lancaster University marked the end of my Bachelor journey. Wanting to extend my knowledge of the business world, to enhance my professional network with incredible people and to keep receiving individually tailored career services, I stayed at Lancaster University and joined the MSc Management programme in September 2017.

Life on the MSc Management is never boring because the programme is fundamentally different from any ordinary Masters programmes in any UK Universities. It’s 9am-5pm intensive, weekly block teaching style makes it an MBA-like programme for candidates who have yet to gain extensive work experience in the industry. The programme is designed to foster future leaders with essential knowledge of a wide range of critical business areas.

Because of the one-module-per-week learning style, the entire learning process is so fun and dynamic. We could be analysing and creating marketing campaigns in week one, while composing and understanding accounting and financial reports a couple of weeks later. Or we could be designing and calculating the optimal inventory level and manufacturing capacity one week and change to be mastering the restructuring of organisational structure and human resource systems this week. Every day is full of new challenges and experiences – presentations, group work, business games, networking lunches and career fairs to name a few.

The quality of the cohort is incredible thanks to the rigorous selection process. Not only do we have a balanced mix of different races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders and academic backgrounds with no dominating nationalities, but as we spend about 40 hours together every week, we quickly became close friends and families. Christmas Dinner at the lovely Lancaster House Hotel, the International Foodie Picnic with breath-taking views at the Ashton Memorial, and Team-bonding day at the Lake District… we share a passion for the programme as a cohort. A passion that brings joy, friendship and love.

This course is the highlight of my 2017. It brings me friends who are mature, mindful and caring, it equips me with the knowledge that enables me to stand out from other Masters students, and more importantly, it strengthens my employability and helps me to secure a great graduate job at an international giant. Having been in this programme for more than three months, I have no single moment of regret.

Things To Do in Lancaster

Have you ever felt tired of all routines, assignments, never ending classes or group work? You feel like you need fresh air, yet you’re too lazy to go outside the city or do not want to spend too much money going out? Then… why don’t you explore our own city, Lancaster! Some of you might not realise that there are so many beautiful places that you can visit only 15 minutes from campus in 1 day!

Before you visit places around Lancaster, it might be good for you to know few facts about Lancaster. Some of you might probably know that Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England surrounding the River Lune. Lancaster, is a historic city in England with numerous buildings in Georgian architecture. You might realise when you’re going to the city center that there are many old buildings that you’ll never get tired of seeing!

Now, I will try to give you some ideas on what to do in Lancaster over the weekend. All you need to do is just to take a bus from campus and you’re good to go! 🙂

Lune Millennium Bridge

The first place that I would recommend is Lune Millennium Bridge. It is located near the Bus Station right behind Sainsbury’s. It spans the River Lune, Lancaster. The history of this bridge is that it was built to commemorate the millennium of 2000. It forms a “Y” shape and it is suitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Be ready for a surprise from this bridge as sometimes it will shake a bit when you’re walking on it 😀

Lancaster Castle

After you spend some time on Lune Millennium Bridge, you can take a walk to a hill right next to the bridge. 5-minutes-walk will bring you to one of the icons of our city, Lancaster Castle. You can see the stunning views of Lancaster from above. This castle may have been founded around the 11th century and it used to be a prison! Owned by The Duchy of Lancaster (Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster), the castle has witnessed significant historical and political impact in the thousand years of its existence. Until 2001 it was still functioning as prison, but now it is open for public and tourist activity. If you want to learn more about its history, you can join the guided tour that is available inside the castle. You can also enjoy a cup of tea in the café inside the castle.

Lancaster Canal

Another attraction that you can visit in Lancaster is the peaceful Lancaster Canal. You can walk 10 minutes from Lancaster Castle to this place. You can also grab your lunch in at the White Cross Restaurant by the river. You can enjoy a nice lunch with river and bridge view as well as seeing some cute ducks along the river 🙂

Ashton Memorial Park

This place might be my favorite place in Lancaster! It is reaaaalllllyyyyyyyy beautiful especially on a sunny day. You can take a walk here but it’s quite a distance from the canal or you can just take a bus whereas you still need to climb a bit to reach this place. Many people called Ashton Memorial Park “England’s grandest folly” and the “Taj Mahal of the North” because this iconic building was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife.

You will first be welcomed by Williamson Park, a pretty park with some small ponds and various kind of plants. After that, you will get this view.

When you are walking up to the building, you can see the city of Lancaster from above. It is breathtaking! This spot is also the highest point in Lancaster where you can see the whole city. There is a pretty dome that is also open to the public. Please note that the interior will be on renovation from November 21 2016 to April 2017 so you might not be able to go inside. But do not worry because the outdoor view of Ashton Memorial is already amazing!

So yeah, there are many things that we can do in Lancaster right? An important thing that you should note before going around the city is: CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST! It won’t be as fun if the rain is pouring hard. In my case, I tend to go out when the sun is up with a clear and bright sky.

Now… Are you ready to go? 🙂

P.S photos are from writer’s personal collection

The First Week of Lent Term and Prepare for Chinese New Year

Hi everyone, my name is Xuanyin, Hu and I am studying MSc Money, Banking and Finance at LUMS now. I am from China.

People always say: “all things are difficult before they are easy.” There was no surprise that, from the perspective of learning, the first week was also challenging, even though I have already studied for almost half a year at Lancaster University. Even so, I was so excited the whole week because the spring festival is coming (celebrating the lunar new year).

The main challenge was the choice of optional module. Actually, the programme’s module schedule is quite well–organised since the first semester, there were only compulsory courses and after that, I may get a clue for what I would like to study in the second term. The optional modules from my programme are divided into two kinds. One belongs to Accounting and Finance department which is more related to finance, another belongs to Economics department. So the problem comes out, should I choose one that I am good at or that I am interested in. I have more basic knowledge of finance because I studied investment in the previous study, however, the economics course attracts me a lot even though I have never studied economics before. So I went to economics’ lecture in the first week, however to be honest I quickly found that it was not for me, so instead I chose the Finance course for my optional course. It was quite hard to give up a thing that you are interested in, but I cannot sacrifice all my time to study an entirely new subject which others already learned from their last three-year study.

Tips for choosing a postgraduate optional course:
Choosing an optional module in postgraduate is quite different from undergraduate. In a postgraduate study, the knowledge is based on what you learned from the previous study. To choose a course which you are good at is more important.

Although it is already 2017 now, for a lot of Asian countries’ students, the new year should be the lunar new year. Of course, for me, it is a super exciting week to prepare for the new year.  It is my first spring festival in the UK and I used to celebrate with my family. So, from the start, I was quite worried about it and did not know how to celebrate it. Fortunately, my flatmates decided to celebrate it with me. We ordered loads of stuff online and also came to downtown to buy all materials and ingredients. After that, we made the dumplings together which was quite fun to teach my flatmates to make it. What’s more, I went the CSSA (Chinese Students & Scholar’s Association ) Chinese Festival. There were many traditional activities, for instance, making paper-cuts for window decorations, writing couplets,  guessing the lantern riddles etc. I wrote couplets for our flat and also wrote the “福” characters which mean happiness for each flatmates. Even though I am in the UK, I still feel a strong atmosphere of Chinese New Year, when you come to downtown, you could see  “Chinese red” theme in different shops and supermarkets. Besides, the graduate college porter is full of “Chinese red”, like the red lanterns.

Don’t worry about that you will be alone to study abroad, you will always meet the nice and kind people!  Happy new year everyone!

Guest Post: Roseanne Willison-Parry- Life as an intern at Valeocon

Roseanne is a MSc Management graduate, who secured an internship with a global company off the back of interviewing them for part of her course. Here, she talks about her experiences. 

Not only did my MSc in Management prepare me for the world of business and give me confidence in many different areas, it also opened the door to my first experience of working in the consulting world. Roseanne Willison-Parry

For my dissertation, I decided to interview CEOs and leading figures in a variety of industries. One such interview was with the CEO of a global consulting firm, Valeocon. After asking all my questions and exploring the use of secrecy and transparency in the company’s strategy, the interview got turned on its head; it was my turn to answer questions! I discussed my ideal working environment – small business, responsibility from the outset, opportunity for travel, creativity encouraged – and Valeocon appeared to be the perfect fit and thankfully vice versa!

Initially, there was a discussion about working with the London office and I began to get excited. A week later I had my job offer; three months at the company HQ… in Hamburg. It definitely ticked my travel box!

Two weeks after my dissertation hand in I moved to Germany and it was absolutely the right decision. Within two weeks I was sitting in on a client meeting and given the opportunity to contribute to the discussion, document interviews and collaborate with a team of consultants. It was a fantastic first insight into consulting.

As well as client work, I was entrusted with organising a three-day conference in Lyon for Valeocon’s global consultants. I was able to see the inner workings of the business and learn what constituted a successful conference. I also gained a first-hand overview of trainings, case studies, brainstorming exercises and the current and future business development of the company. Being asked to teach Ballet/Yoga as an agility exercise at 7am every morning was an unexpected addition! It was an invaluable experience and the accommodation and food was an added bonus!

Throughout the conference and in the weeks following I had a variety of separate tasks to perform – proof reading, marketing refresh, presentation development, research – it has been an all-round education. The level of responsibility and collaboration has been great and I really feel part of the team. It has helped me realise I want to be involved in consulting, next steps have been discussed, and this is the start of a fantastic relationship between Valeocon and myself.

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.