Life after University and my advice to current students

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Blog written by Isabelle Peters, UWE Bristol Marketing & Communications Alumni and Marketing Executive at Moxie and Mettle.

Isabelle Peters, former UWE Bristol Marketing and Communications student has written a guest blog with her advice for current students looking to get into a Marketing role after University.

There comes a time when all good things must come to an end, and that includes school and then University. 

Most people leave school and go straight to University without actually being exposed to all their options and end up regretting their course and being stuck with a degree in something useless and not knowing what to do. 

That nearly happened to me.

I was just about to head to Manchester to study History when I stopped and asked myself: what do I need this degree for? I took two years out to figure it out and landed on a Marketing & Communications course at UWE instead (best decision ever by the way).

I studied (and partied) hard for three years to get my degree, and then the realisation kicked in that I had to find a job, and that it should be in the field I’ve spent a lot of time and money on during University. It should be easy right? You study for your degree, and now it’s your time to shine and get your dream job and salary and begin your life…

Well, sadly no.

Getting a job is very difficult, and I wasn’t enlightened about how hard it would be, nor did I listen. I must have applied for over 60 jobs before I even started to get interviews, and my experience still wasn’t enough. This is an essential piece of information that I HAVE to express to current students: if you don’t have actual real-world experience in your desired industry, good luck trying to find a job because it will be hard.

If you are serious about a career in Marketing, PR, Comms, Journalism or anything related, I would 100% suggest doing a placement year or at least a few weeks unpaid work experience here and there during holidays. I’ve found the best way to approach this type of work experience is to build a solid LinkedIn page, do some research and connect with the MD/CEO of the company expressing your interest in working unpaid/work experience.

If you need assistance with finding a workplace/work experience, Moxie & Mettle offer a unique Graduate Plus scheme for entry-level graduates and current students. They aim signpost candidates to their clients who are looking for students or graduates to fulfil a work placement and hopefully help more people get opportunities. 

My second piece of advice is to familiarise yourself with extra marketing blogs and materials on the internet – all posted at the bottom. A big part of marketing is understanding the current market, keeping on top of changes and understanding constant developments. Not only will this increase your knowledge, but it will accustom you to the language of marketing and develop your copywriting skills. 

This brings me on to my third piece of advice. Copywriting is at the heart of what you do. (When I first started at Moxie & Mettle, I didn’t even really know what this meant, and I actually had to Google it discretely). It is the activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material. It comes in all shapes and sizes from a blog to a post on social media! Usually, we’re taught to write academically for essays and reports, while in the real world, we should be writing in a style that’s accessible for our target audience. Meaning it should probably be more colloquial, simpler and ENGAGING.

Marketing is moving away from theory-heavy academia and newspapers to digital platforms, which means our consumer is changing the way they take in information.

Blogging is a big part of content marketing; it promotes and raises brand awareness. I know blogging can’t necessarily be taught, but practise helps, and the process of understanding different audiences can be tricky. I struggled a lot when I first started writing blogs for Moxie & Mettle, I was unsure how to lay it out, and the tone was all wrong. My advice is to read a lot of these style blogs and practise writing whenever you can.

Finally, my last piece of advice is to try and build your confidence up as much as you can. University can’t teach you to be a people person but testing yourself by joining clubs and societies can! 

I’m a firm believer in the ‘people hire people’ concept, which pretty much suggests if you leave a great impression you will be remembered. A significant part of my job is attending any slightly relevant events to act as a brand ambassador for my company; this helps us generate leads and meet new clients.

I have currently been working for Moxie & Mettle for almost a year, and honestly, I have learnt so much about marketing and myself; what I’m good at and what I can improve on; but weirdly enough what marketing really is.

Course Connect case study: Nationwide Building Society

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Thanks to Gemma Clatworthy and Eleimon Gonis, Senior Risk Managers, for providing a case study from Nationwide Building Society who are partnered with our Credit Risk Analysis and Management module here at UWE Bristol.

What is Course Connect?

Course Connect Partnerships help bridge the gap between academia and industry and contribute to the practice focus of our programmes. Businesses can partner with us to co-create knowledge and help educate our students by supporting a module on a taught programme for two years.

You can contribute through live cases studies, guest lectures, co-designing the curriculum mentoring or sponsoring students and student competitions, and providing internships or placements.

Please give a short bio and history of your business:

‘Nationwide is the UK’s largest building society with a balance sheet of c.£240bn and c.16m members.’

‘As a mutual, Nationwide is managed for the benefit of its current and future members, who are its retail savings, owner occupied mortgage and current account customers.’

How is your business getting involved with Course Connect?

‘Members of the Risk Community at Nationwide are shaping the Credit Risk Analysis and Management course content and giving guest lectures on different aspects of risk management, such as advances in credit risk modelling, the use of credit risk in decision making and horizon scanning.’

‘Also, Nationwide risk professionals highlight topical issues in the credit risk industry, such as the advent of AI / ML or the need to account for climate change in risk-based decision making, which can in turn inform student assessment to ensure that graduates are aware of and tackle the issues that practitioners deal with on an everyday basis.’

What interested you about being a Course Connect partner?

‘The ambition of the Risk Community at Nationwide Building Society is to become a world class risk function, which safeguards the Society’s strategic cornerstone of “built to last”, while always putting its members’ interest first. In that respect, the Risk community is keen on forming close ties with UWE Bristol, so it can share best practice and expertise and become the recipient of novel and fresh ideas with respect to the future of risk management.’

‘For this reason, we were genuinely excited about the opportunity to connect with UWE Bristol, share knowledge and learn from each other.’

What is your feedback so far?

‘The module leader has been very active and supportive of the programme. Although at the early stages of our collaboration, there have been some interesting discussions on the future of risk management, and we find that there is an open channel of communication that has the potential to add value to both sides’ operations and strategic thinking.’

‘Course Connect has benefits to both the business and the university and we’re proud to be involved.’

If you would like to find out more about Course Connect or would like to become a partner, please email bbec@uwe.ac.uk.

Supporting women in male-dominated industries: Stella Warren

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1) What is your role at UWE Bristol and what projects have you been working on?

I am a Research Fellow in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre with a background in applied social research. For over 20 years I have been involved in a wide range of research projects with colleagues in both marketing and HRM in the Bristol Business School. My expertise includes gender and inequality in organisations; the gender pay gap; women working in male-dominated industries, leadership and inclusion, social marketing and the understanding of psychological pathways for behaviour change in health. I am one of the founder members of alta, a mentoring scheme for professional women in aviation and aerospace. I also teach research methods and supervise student research projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

2) Why is supporting women in male-dominated industries important to you?

Europe has an increasingly ageing workforce and an ongoing reduction in the working age population. Alongside this is a skills shortage in some economically critical industries, especially engineering which could be addressed through the recruitment and retention of more women. For example, in the UK, women comprise just over 12% of engineers, compared with other EU countries, such as Latvia (30%) and Sweden (26%). Over the last few years my research has focused on the male-dominated aviation and aerospace industry in the UK where women make up just under 10% of engineers and 4% of pilots. One issue women face in this industry, and male-dominated industries in general, is a lack of support and progression, which can result in women leaving the industry, or not joining in the first place after four years at university, contributing to the phenomenon described as the ‘leaky pipeline’.

3) What is your top tip for women who want a career in a male-dominated industry?

Get yourself a mentor! Some organisations offer mentorship for graduates, or to ‘fast track’ particular employees, but if you find you’re not eligible for a formal mentoring scheme, find someone who is willing to mentor you informally, someone who is familiar with your industry, or maybe someone who has had experience of particular life stages, such as returning to work after career breaks …and if you’re in the aviation or aerospace industry, join alta – it’s free!

4) What is your top tip for businesses looking to recruit more women?

Take a look at your senior level employees, including board level. Are they representative of your workforce? It’s difficult to be what you can’t see. Supporting your female employees, through a mentoring scheme for example, can help them to feel valued, assist them in getting into leadership positions, and could go a long way toward encouraging women to return to the industry, increasing the retention rates of women in the industry. Also, be prepared to offer flexible or reduced hours working for all employees.

Watch our Future Impact Webinar recording on ‘Supporting women in male-dominated industries’ here.

UWE Bristol Marketing undergraduates urge fellow students to register to vote

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Original source: Bristol City Council

Students in Bristol are being reminded to register to vote by a campaign inspired by fellow undergraduates.

A voter registration campaign designed by Bristol City Council has been launched with the help of digital marketing undergraduates studying at UWE Bristol in the Bristol Business School. The campaign reminds new and returning students to register to vote at their new address.

Yvonne Dawes, Head of Statutory Registration at Bristol City Council said “Lots of students don’t know that they can register to vote in both their home town and also the place where they study. Registration is very quick and easy yet some students, when they decide where to use their vote, realise too late that they are not registered in that location.”

Around 200 third year students took part in an exercise to design a register to vote campaign, adding their creativity and ideas into the planning of the campaign.

Yvonne continued: “It’s been so valuable to work with students on this campaign, and receive the insight and recommendations from young people studying marketing. There are over 50,000 students in Bristol which is 11% of Bristol’s population. We want students to know their vote will make a difference and feel engaged with local democracy.”

Tom Bowden Green, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at UWE said “This is the third year we’ve worked with Bristol City Council on ‘live’ projects. For me, it’s really valuable for my students to experience working on realistic campaigns as it’s great work experience. I was particularly pleased to work on a voter registration campaign as I think it’s so important for young people to be engaging in politics.”

It is important that young people and students in Bristol, especially students who have moved house, register to vote by midnight on 26 November if they want to vote in the upcoming General Election.

Following the General Election in December, major local elections will take place in Bristol in May where the Mayor, 70 local councillors, as well as the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner will be elected. Anyone wanting to take part in these elections will need to make sure they’re on the electoral register.

To register visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Course Connect Case Study: Lloyds Banking Group

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Thanks to Caron Ricciardi, Senior Business Development Manager, for providing a case study from Lloyds Banking Group who are partnered with our Banking and Finance module here at UWE Bristol.

What is Course Connect?

Course Connect Partnerships help bridge the gap between academia and industry and contribute to the practice focus of our programmes. Businesses can partner with us to co-create knowledge and help educate our students by supporting a module on a taught programme for two years.

You can contribute through live cases studies, guest lectures, co-designing the curriculum mentoring or sponsoring students and student competitions, and providing internships or placements.

Please give a short bio and history of your business:

‘When Lloyds Banking Group was formed in 2009, it brought together many well-known, financial-sector brands, including Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. Our combined history stretches back more than 300 years, and encompasses a diverse range of businesses.’

How is your business getting involved with Course Connect?

‘We provide support for the banking and finance programme, complimenting the programme modules through a variety of activities, for example:

  • Interactive presentations on Robotics and Money Laundering
  • Giving new starter students an introduction to the soft skills needed in business
  • Helping 2nd and 3rd year students with mock interviews, CV feedback and assessment centres to fully prepare them for careers after graduating.’

What interested you about being a Course Connect partner?

‘We want young people to get a great start to their working life, sharing our experiences, knowledge and skills is a great way to help make that happen. This approach aligns to our Group purpose of Helping Britain Prosper.’

What is your feedback so far?

‘Personally I feel we have built a robust relationship with the lecturers and course directors / leads. This is complimented through Lloyds’ seat on the UWE Board, where in collaboration with other local businesses we help to shape the discussions for course content and direction.  As an employer, we look to add value by ensuring the courses provide a ‘true to life’ perspective for students.’

‘When talking about our relationship with UWE internally to my Lloyds colleagues, I class us as an “integral partner for the programme”.’

If you would like to find out more about Course Connect or would like to become a partner, please email bbec@uwe.ac.uk.

Bristol Business School in the top ten

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Bristol Business School has been voted as one of the top 10 business schools in the UK by over 9,000 students thanks to Student Crowd.

‘With the popularity of Business related degrees in the UK on the rise and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s more important than ever that Universities offer top class courses, facilities and career prospects’

It’s for this reason that they compiled a list of the best Business Schools in the UK as voted for by students themselves. They received a massive 9,300 unique reviews that went into forming this comprehensive list.

They say “Bristol Business School is one of the UK’s leading university business schools. Developing students in the art of leadership, collaboration and enterprise, students will be ready to start a successful career in business after graduation. With help building connections with industry professionals, Bristol Business School has a 95% employment rate.”

Votes were calculated using a number of categories from Campus and facilities to clubs and societies. Read more here.

The Everest Challenge

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Staff at UWE Bristol took part in the Everest Challenge in aid of promoting physical and mental wellbeing at work.

Over summer 2019 several staff across the University took part in the Everest Challenge in aid of promoting physical and mental wellbeing at work.

Organised by Fliss Cargill, Professional Development Team Manager at UWE Bristol, the challenge was to climb the equivalent of reaching the top of Everest using only the stairs in the Bristol Business School. The number of steps required to do this was 58,070, equal to 2,420 flights.

All staff members who were involved had 8 weeks to complete the challenge and they recorded the flights they had taken each day, giving way to a bit of friendly competition between colleagues.

Fliss explains, “The purpose of the challenge was not only because I had always wanted to see how many times I’d need to walk up to my office to reach Everest (403.3 times!) but just to make us all think about how we could add some exercise into our work routine by taking the stairs rather than the lift and how much this might add to our mental health as well as physical”.

After a summer of aching calves and red faces, our staff managed to complete the challenge in an impressive 6 weeks – 2 weeks ahead of schedule. This challenge proved that we can all add a little bit more movement into our work day which is especially important for those who have a sedentary job role sat by a computer. We are lucky to have the facilities in the Bristol Business School building to do this easily, with a staircase from floors 2 to 6 situated in the middle of the building with access from the downstairs Atrium café.

UWE Bristol believe in empowering staff and students to make healthy choices and have an initiative called Feel Good at UWE Bristol. Have a look at their programme and gather some ideas for inspiration to improve your wellbeing.

Top 5 tips to engage with your employees

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Interview with Dr Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development

Gareth Edwards Headshot

Dr Gareth Edwards is an expert in dispersed leadership from a community perspective and leadership development.

Gareth recently chaired the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement’ Conference at the Bristol Business School. The event was focused on harnessing people’s skills and resources to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times.

Here, Gareth gives us his top 5 tips for engaging with your employees:

1. Make sure that you have a two-way conversation with organisational colleagues. It’s not enough to just open a dialogue or enter into a consultation. Employees need to feel like they’ve been part of a meaningful conversation and that their ideas have been discussed and explored. The decisions need to be strategic but with input from employees at all levels.

2. Consider the links to your organisations history. Include in the engagement dialogue a commentary about the purpose of the organisation and how this ties into current strategy and planning. Some firms have an innate family feel, others less so, but there is always a way to connect back to the roots of a company and explore engagement through heritage.

3. Think about the links between leadership and engagement. Good practice would warrant elements of distributed leadership whereby you recognise and reward examples of teams leading themselves within the organisation. It’s important to let this happen organically and promote excellence positively.

4. There is definitely something to consider around the subject of culture. There is no ‘right’ culture but it’s vital to recognise the importance that some people attach to this. Think about your organisation’s culture, how people reflect on this and link best practice to core values and behaviours.

5. Most importantly, have fun! Employees work hard and that should be recognised and encouraged, alongside social activities and a family friendly ethos. Things such as Away Days should have strategic and planning focuses, but some time should equally be spent on social activities. Things can be too formulaic, so try to find the right balance.

If you’d like to read more about leadership and engagement read the CITB’s snapshot report on ‘Building engagement: Encouraging leadership in construction’.

Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference

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On Tuesday 25 June Bristol Business School hosted the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference’ in collaboration with Engage for Success, CITB and ILM. This was the first Engage for Success conference hosted outside of London, and it was fantastic to hold it here at UWE Bristol welcoming over 170 external delegates to the Business School.

Keynote speaker presentations

Workshop presentations

On Tuesday 25 June Bristol Business School hosted the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement Conference’ in collaboration with Engage for Success, CITB and ILM. This was the first Engage for Success conference hosted outside of London, and it was fantastic to hold it here at UWE Bristol welcoming over 170 external delegates to the Business School. The main theme of the event was around harnessing the skills of people and resources to reach new levels of engagement to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times, and with limited budgets, as often experienced by SMEs.

The event was chaired by Dr. Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development at UWE Bristol, whilst Noordin Shehabuddeen, Director of Bristol Business Engagement Centre at UWE Bristol, welcomed the delegates, who came from a variety of professions from within the South West including the construction industry, accounting and finance, and local government. The conference was treated to some excellent keynote speakers focusing on the necessity for employee engagement now more than ever, to case studies from baby food manufacturer Ella’s Kitchen to Wilmott Dixon, a local construction company, who were recently ranked the 4th Best Company to work for by the Sunday Times.

There then followed a series of interactive workshops led by invited guests who are also ambassadors for Engage for Success, and a rather intriguing energiser event led by the Creator of Joy at Inspire me, who was able to create a credible rock choral version of ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ in just 20 mins – definitely an occasion which you had to be part of to actually believe. The event concluded with a keynote address from Andrew Sandiford, Managing Partner of local accountancy firm Bishop Fleming, followed by a panel discussion to answer questions submitted by the delegates throughout the day. It was evident that employee engagement is everyone’s responsibility, and many of the questions centered on how to do this if given little or no budget, as well as strategies as to how to gain support from the cynics and buy-in from senior management. Support was certainly gained by everyone present, and we were delighted to have hosted such a fantastic event.

UWE Bristol climbs to 28th in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2020

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has climbed to its highest ever position into the top 30 in the Guardian university league table, with its fourth consecutive rise up the table. Moving up 9 places from last year, the University is now ranked 28th out of 121 UK institutions in the newspaper’s latest annual guide for students. Business and Management courses at UWE have also gone up an impressive 29 places since last year.

A continued strong performance in the National Student Survey (NSS), achieving its highest ever result of 89%, and an increase in spend per student have helped the University rise to 28th in the 2020 guide, and 4th in the south west.

UWE Bristol has been ranked 2nd in the country for the satisfaction with course score, 6th in the country for its value-added score, which compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications to show how effectively they have been taught, and 10th for satisfaction with teaching.

The Guardian league table focuses on the quality of teaching, student satisfaction and employability. Compiled by independent company Intelligent Metrix, the guide ranks universities according to: spending per student; the student/staff ratio; graduate career prospects; what grades applicants need to get a place; the value-added score; and how satisfied final-year students are with their course, based on results from the annual NSS. The rankings also contain a continuation score based on the percentage of first-year students continuing to a second year. The overall Guardian league table is accompanied by subject rankings, showing how universities perform across 54 areas of study.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said:

“I’m so proud to be continuing our steady rise through the Guardian University Guide rankings this year, and it’s even more meaningful given that it’s partly due to our students giving us our highest ever student satisfaction result in the National Student Survey. This rise is a real reflection of the scale of our ambitions for the future, including further investment in services and facilities across all our campuses.

“This is an absolutely fantastic achievement for our University and is a real testament to all of our incredibly hard-working and committed staff, who always ensure that the student experience is at the heart of everything we do.”

Find out more about UWE Bristol’s rankings and reputation and view other UWE news stories.