How my degree prepared me for the world of work

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by Anastasia, BA (Hons) Architecture and Planning

In July 2019 I graduated from BA (Hons) Architecture and Planning with a First Class degree. Looking back now, I can’t believe that I ever doubted my decision to study in the UK and in particular to study Architecture and Planning at UWE Bristol. I feel super lucky and am glad I chose to follow my inner voice.

Why go to university?

I feel that my degree gave me a kick-off start to my career and also my personal development. It started with a great supportive and diverse bunch of people that I was studying with, and our brilliant lecturers. To be honest, coming from Russia, I did not expect to form such strong bonds with lecturers that made me feel worthy, valued and heard. These four years (it was a four-year programme for me as it is a sandwich course) changed my attitude towards myself. I can tell that I ended up feeling more confident and able to aim high. A lot of that was a result of lecturers being very attentive and open-minded, encouraging students to make their own decisions and take their own paths with a careful guidance from the university environment.

How to make the most of your university experience.

I have been heavily involved with out-of-curriculum activities that university has to offer. Some of the things I have enjoyed most were:

  • Taking part in a range of societies, mainly as a part of the committee (ESN Exchange society and Built Environment Society). I particularly enjoyed being on the other side of the events held, by getting involved and helping to organise them.
  • Being a PAL (peer assistant learning) leader, which means helping first year students with modules that I had already been through. (This is a paid role that really boosted my confidence and ability to speak in front of an audience)
  • Language exchange buddy – my Italian friend and I agreed to have weekly hourly sessions, during which she was teaching me Italian and I was teaching her Russian. (This was really useful when I was preparing for my Erasmus exchange experience that I talk about later on)
  • Green Team events and forestry volunteering – This environmentally-oriented team hosts a wide variety of events, including fortnightly meetings, that involve activities such as going to Stokes Park to clean up the forest. This is with a mix of other students from a range of different courses and years.
  • Being part of the UWE Bristol Jazz band as a singer allowed me to develop in that field as well. I was surrounded by talented musicians with whom I performed weekly in the Students’ Union bar and at a range of other events, such as at the Bristol Hotel and at the ‘We The Curious’ museum.

CV Boosting opportunities

In terms of more educational experiences, again, my course offered plenty.

  • Every Thursday during term-time, a guest speaker from industry came in to give a lecture. This was open to all and conveniently hosted in R block where all architecture and product design students are based.
  • My course had RIBA and RTPI accreditation which means that my peers and I have a free RIBA and RTPI membership. This allows us to go to a multitude of events in Bristol hosted by those bodies and take part in RIBA Mentoring scheme in the final year.

A quick showing off moment – my dissertation has been nominated for the RIBA Presidents’ Medal in 2018. This has been one of the highlights of my professional path and would not have been possible if my course had not been accredited.

Anastasia
  • Erasmus exchange – An  opportunity that I have been delighted to be part of that allowed me to study in the University of Bologna for one year as a part of my course. This made my university experience even more full and rounded, allowing me to learn Italian language, culture and be introduced to Italian way of thinking about architecture and urban planning.
  • Hong Kong study trip with the Built Environment Society – a university-funded summer school which has brought twenty UWE Bristol students to a partner university in Hong Kong, allowing us to explore engineering methods used on the other side of the planet.
Beautiful Bologna!

And imagine, these are only the highlights. In between these have been multiple competitions, site visits, ceremonies, nominations and, most importantly, full days of hard work. Yes, it was tough at times but totally worth it. All thanks to people and an environment that let me shine and feel happy throughout. Yes, it is all about feeling satisfied and accomplished with what you do, at least for me it is so. And UWE Bristol allowed me to have this worth-while experience that started me off well on my professional path as well as in other aspects of my life.

Find out how a degree from UWE Bristol can prepare you for the world of work.

UWE Bristol’s got your back

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by Rapha, BSc(Hons) Urban Planning

How UWE Bristol supports my studies

Support is something we all need from time to time. UWE Bristol has provided me with a range of support both when I was struggling academically and adapting to university life. I found support from all angles, from academic support to personal support, I have used PAL, tutors, student advisors, info and visa hub as well as the career advisors.

Moving away from home

Moving to a new place where everything is new, can be quite overwhelming. That’s why the more support you get the better your experience will be. In whatever area you might need help, there will be a support system available for you because UWE Bristol knows how stressful it can be at times with these big changes.

Here are a few aids I have used in the past, and will continue using when I need it:

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

This is a scheme where students from the year above help the newer students. For example, they will provide you with tips on how to cope with the work load but still have fun. They can try explaining some topics in a simpler way than lectures to give you a better understanding. PAL helped me from the beginning to the end of the year as it gave me a student perspective on the work load. I was then able to divide and conquer, and created myself a successful schedule. They also gave great tips based on the mistakes they had made. This really helps you settle in as you can ask them where things are or the questions you wouldn’t want to ask your lecturers. You can almost say they are like your academic lifeline.

“You could say that the PAL team are like your academic lifeline. “

Rapha

Tutors

I personally think that tutors were and are the best academic support for me. This is because they know your course, can give you advice on how to improve but also assist you on things like your coursework or exam preparation. Plus, they will know who to contact, if you need extra help and more.

IT services

My email account once got hacked right before my three main coursework assignment deadlines. Because of this I had to deactivate and block my account. However, this meant I still couldn’t login and that caused me to panic. I contacted the info hub who then contacted IT and within one visit they got the hacker completely out of my account, helped me resubmit my courseworks and taught me how to prevent this happening again. I couldn’t be more happy once I left the IT offices.

I have used many of the support services and resources throughout my time at UWE Bristol and I plan to continue using them because they are so good and are there for us!

“I am so glad to have chosen UWE Bristol. ”

Rapha

They have helped me so much, through various situations and I felt like my transition from sixth form to university went much smoother because of it. I am so glad to have chosen UWE Bristol.

Find out more about support at UWE Bristol

How to manage your money as a postgraduate student

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by Nicole, MRes Social Science

Money can be scary. Some days, I look at my bank account and wonder where it all went. But it doesn’t need to be a scary prospect. There are things you can do and people you can speak with to make sure that you have the money to support you alongside your postgraduate study and help you to manage it well. So, don’t panic, I am here to point you in the right direction!

Fear can sometimes lead to avoidance, which means you could be missing out on help, funding or great tips and tricks to make your money go further.

Firstly, and quite possibly most importantly, there’s student finance options. Student Finance England (SFE) is probably where you went to get your undergraduate student loans, and it’s where you are going to need to go again for postgraduate. If you’ve used SFE before, your login is the same, but if not, you will need to create an account. Once you’re in, you just need to complete a few forms and then you are done! SFE will check all of your info, and then let you know how much money you are entitled to. But there is one crucial difference from the undergraduate loans: your tuition loan is paid to YOU, not to UWE, so remember to bear that in mind when you are budgeting!

Another option for funding is getting some paid work alongside your studies. There are plenty of options here: everything from retail to working for UWE (like yours truly). The great thing about postgraduate study is that the courses are more flexible – so much of a postgraduate course is self-directed study. This makes it easier to fit a job around your studies. Not only can you earn money for this work, but you can also gain valuable skills, especially if you can find a part-time role in your field of study! Two birds, one stone!

Last but not least there is also a plethora of options provided by UWE, such as the summer fund, which can provide some additional funding over the summer break and the emergency fund, which can provided when something unexpected happens (for example, I used it when I knocked my laptop off of my desk and smashed it!).

Budgeting is your friend!

So, you’ve got your money sourced, now what do you do with it? Budgeting is your friend! It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal or even all that detailed, but it really is useful to have one. Personally, I have mine on an Excel spreadsheet – I find it easier to edit and it does the maths for me, which is good because my maths skills are severely lacking – but you can do it however works best for you. Play around and experiment to see what suits your style best.

One of the biggest expenses in this world is food. It’s necessary, so it can seem like there’s no way to reduce that bill. But fear not! There are some really simple ways to cut down on that expense! First and foremost, branded foods are not always the best out there, so give the supermarket own brand options a shot and you might be surprised at both the taste and the savings. Secondly, keep an eye out for the reduced to clear sections in the major supermarkets. They tend to reduce the foods that are going to be ‘out-of-date’ soon at about 8pm every day, and most of these are absolutely fine to eat a few days after that date AND most of them can be frozen and eaten at a much later date. I’ve managed to grab pizzas, cakes, bread, vegetables, cheese and so much more for pennies using this method. Don’t be afraid to dive on in and grab what you need!

Alright! I think that’s all of my tips for managing your money as a postgraduate student. My last words of advice would be this: don’t be scared about money and funding. Fear can sometimes lead to avoidance, which means you could be missing out on help,  funding, or great tips and tricks to make your money go further. So, take a deep breath, grab some chocolate (or other treat) and dive in! Good luck!

Find out more about financial support.

How I managed the commitment of postgraduate study

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by Dev, MSc Marketing

After successfully completing my undergraduate degree I was keen to begin a career in publishing. But after a summer of job hunting I realised that although my degree was beneficial, I needed more for my chosen career. I also had to take into consideration as a Tier 4 international student the job requirements for me are different to local students.

I chatted my options through with my parents and decided, quite last minute, to apply for a postgraduate degree in marketing at UWE Bristol. Because I applied late in the summer I didn’t have a chance to fully explore what postgraduate student life at UWE might be like. Even though I had lived in the area for a while and had a lovely group of friends, I was still worried about how I might fit in.

I also knew that doing a postgraduate degree was going to be a bigger commitment and it would be more intense than undergraduate. Looking back, this has been true, but my lecturers have been really supportive, which has made the transition from UG to PG much easier. For example, when I started the course we had a two day session with our tutors to understand how the course would work and who to contact. We also did a short exercise which gave us a great grounding in the course.

That said, we all need a bit more support from time to time and at the start of year I had a few issues, so I contacted the wellbeing team at UWE. The people there were so understanding and offered me resources and advice about my mental health, as well as how I could manage it whilst doing my degree. This was a refreshing change from the inconsistent support I received from my previous institution and I felt like I could really rely on UWE to help me when I needed it!

I’ve also found Bristol itself to be really welcoming. I recently attended Bristol Pride and it was a glorious event! As a queer student born and raised in a conservative environment and still trying to find their place in the world, it was an incredible thing to experience. Bristol’s queer scene has personally been one of the best ones I’ve been a part of. I know from experience that there aren’t many places as welcoming and open-minded as Bristol.

As I move closer to graduating, I’m now starting to think about my career prospects and job opportunities again and I definitely feel like I am better prepared now. I’ve also started making enquiries with the international student careers team who I’m planning on meeting with soon to discuss the next steps and work through some of the issues I’ve had before.

Find out more about the support available at UWE

Preparing for my study year in Sweden

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by Hannah, BA(Hons) International Business

I love the vibrant Swedish culture and whenever I visit I feel calm and at peace.

When applying for BA(Hons) International Business I was attracted to the study year abroad in third year. The year abroad is compulsory and UWE have multiple partner institutions over the globe spanning the US, Mexico and Taiwan. I have now been accepted at the University of Sweden to study International Marketing starting in August.

In July 2018 I took two weeks to visit Stockholm, staying with a family in Solna, just outside of Stockholm. I had a great time traveling by subway and walking to parks and villages. I enjoyed walking around the campus, noting its professional design and calm atmosphere. The fact that the Stockholm Business School welcomes 140 exchange students every semester means that there is a good buddy programme and small added extras like a welcome dinner to get us settled in. I really love that the campus reflects Stockholm with its elegant historical buildings and parks but then also has a modern, cosmopolitan spirit. I love the vibrant Swedish culture and whenever I visit I feel calm and at peace, appreciating the beautiful surroundings and sun sets etc. I would love to take part in the Swedish language lessons and really immerse myself into the culture and new opportunities.

Studying abroad will enable me to complete my degree which I am currently on track to secure a first class honours. In the future though I plan to work overseas or travel in my career as I love working with interesting people who are different from me. I’m hoping that by studying abroad I will gain a global awareness as I believe that having the ability to network globally is a great skill to have. I will also gain a new-found independence, knowing that this time I can travel and explore whilst partaking in a normal academic routine- building my self-confidence and self-awareness.

I’m also finding that my interpersonal skills are being developed when planning each detail of my year abroad in terms of travel, accommodation and university policies etc. Spending time researching the country’s currency and culture has helped me prepare for the year out, understanding that change will occur quickly and I need to be prepared to adapt quickly to the cultural and personal change which should put me in good stead for the workplace when project managing large tasks, being able to plan logically and think critically.

Most importantly though I feel like my year abroad will remind me that anything is possible!

Find out more about global study opportunities

What a degree can do for you

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by Sophia, MSc Marketing  

More than a degree

Going to university is a big decision and will shape the next three to four years of your life, so it is important to make sure that it is something you want to do. Continuing your education can be very rewarding not only in your professional development but also in your personal one. Many people who have gone to university will tell you that it was the best few years they have experienced and would recommend it to anyone.

Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper.

The most common reason why that time is so cherished is because, as well as attaining a degree, it was also the first step into adulthood for them. Moving away from home and living with strangers can sound scary but so many people have matured and have made lifelong friendships that way. This really is a time where you get to learn to become independent and build a future for yourself.

Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper, it’s having multiple opportunities to meet new interesting people, to become a part of a society, to learn how to cook, how to manage money and so much more. Whilst you’re working towards your degree, your university can also offer you to do some of that work abroad on an Erasmus programme, which is an amazing opportunity to learn a new language and experience a different culture. There is so much that you can benefit from getting a degree, you just need to take advantage of all the opportunities.

How can a degree help your employment prospects?

After three years of hard work, graduating and receiving that degree can be one of the most rewarding feelings. You feel accomplished and ready to step into the big world. Naturally, the next step is employment, and this is where you’ll realise that staying up late finishing all those assignments and the long hours of revising for exams haven’t gone to waste.

You’ll notice that one of the requirements of many employees is having a degree in a field of study related to the job. By having that you’re already at an advantage. Some would like to see some experience also, and many of you might think that it seems unfair to have experience and a young age if you’ve been in education the entire time, however choosing a sandwich course that entails being on placement for a year can give you that advantage as well as a lot of confidence and valuable experience.

Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish.

Another way to start off a career is by doing a graduate scheme or programme, which is incredibly common amongst companies. These schemes are specifically designed for students that have graduated from university, they are a great way to start a career as it offers training, high earning potential and even global opportunities. In general, it is known that about 90% of graduates either get employed or go into further education, so there is a high likelihood of job security. Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish. It’s a life experience that will shape the future you.

Find out more about getting career ready

My UWE Bristol room tour

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by Dan, BA(Hons) Business (Team Entrepreneurship)

During my first year at university I lived in Quantock Court in the Student Village on Frenchay Campus. Before I moved to UWE however I remember having quite a few questions about what my accommodation would look like so hopefully my blog and vlog will help give you the answers you need if you’re deciding or have already got accommodation confirmed!

Your room

In your room you have a bed, closet space, desk and en-suite (some accommodation options have shared bathrooms). The desk is a good enough size to fit all the essentials and if you are like me you can also fit your printer and two monitor screens as well as the normal space for writing. You also have shelves above your desk for books or personal belongings. Overall it’s a nice little room which is big enough for one person.

Communal space

If you’re living in the Student Village you will be living with 6 other people and sharing the communal area. This area includes a kitchen and living/ socialising area. The kitchen has an oven, kettle, toaster and sink. Each person has a cupboard for their own thing as well as there being enough room for pots and pans. Some accommodation options have sofas in the social area and others have individual chairs, but either way it’s a nice space to socialise in and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

I hope this gives you a good idea of what to expect if you’ve chosen the Student Village as your accommodation or if you are still making your minds up.

Find out more information on accommodation options.

My clearing experience

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by Emily, BA(Hons) History

Clearing sounds very scary, doesn’t it? Of all the thoughts running around in the build up to results day, the thought of clearing may be overwhelming. The thought I might not get to go to the university I had chosen scared me, but it shouldn’t especially if you get prepared beforehand.

In the run up to exams, I began to have a change of mind towards which subject I would be studying at university. I always thought it would be History, but after a set of good coursework results in Media Studies I began to think about studying that instead. I proceeded to ask my teacher for support and she pointed me in the right direction and gave me some courses to look at. By results day I was practically certain that Media was in fact, the subject for me.

What to do on results day

Soon enough results day came but upon looking at my results, I panicked and was filled with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. My mum suggested I speak to my tutor, who then took me in to her office to discuss my options and to talk about what I wanted to do. Teachers and other staff members are a really good resource when it comes to clearing, they’ve been through this a billion times before and can guide you to all the right places. I must have spent at least an hour in there before reaching a decision.

Why UWE?

UWE was always an option as it was where my mum had studied and she always raved about it. UWE had a good reputation and after looking at their course for History online I found the modules really interesting. Their online clearing process was easy to navigate and very helpful, in comparison to the other university I was looking at which was unhelpful and kept redirecting me to different phone lines. This made my decision so much easier, and I began to think that although this was different to the experience I was expecting, the course was sounding even better than the one I originally wanted to study. It then began to set in that I was going to UWE and I felt proud, to do so. Clearing had set my mind at ease.

My top tips for clearing

  1. Firstly you should fully research universities and courses beforehand, this is in case you don’t get the results you want as it’s good to know what options are out there and have a few back-ups.
  2. I would check UCAS track prior to going to collect results, this should prepare you for the outcome and can help you understand whether you need any assistance.
  3. You should check your school or college opening times and I would recommend going sooner rather than later. This way it will be easier to make use of the help at hand and if you are unsure of anything it’s definitely worth asking a teacher or another member of staff.
  4. It might also be worth bringing a parent, friend or someone else along with you for support.
  5. Finally I would also recommend getting lots of sleep before, and trying not to worry, worrying will not change the outcome!

I would stress that you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t get your first choice. Clearing can be a really helpful tool that can offer a number of possibilities. Not getting your first choice might initially seem disappointing, but you shouldn’t let it write off your future, there are still numerous possibilities that can shape your life for the better.

Find out more about clearing

Top tips for completing your UCAS application

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

Applications: combatting the complications

So, we’re assuming you’ve clicked on this blog post because you need a little bit more guidance on how to apply for university, right? Well, that’s very wise as the whole application process can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re amongst lots of students across the world trying to make the same good impression. To start you off, here are 7 tips to ease the blow of UCAS applications. Keep these in the back of your mind so you can write a personal statement worth reading!

1. Research, research research!

A crazy amount of applications are submitted each day, and tutor’s sixth sense can always pick up when someone has made the effort to research the course they’re wanting to study for the next few years. So, go to the websites of your university choices and read the course information to know what they’re looking for— it’ll help you in the long run for specifics!

2. Pick the necessary

Mentioning your cat and how he has two different coloured eyes might be great for interview conversation, but won’t really be much of an incentive for your course leaders to accept you for September, especially when you’re applying for a Maths degree. Choosing relevant and necessary information makes an easier read, and helps you to present a better image of yourself.

3. Promote yourself

Think about it — 1000s of applications a day, hours dragging on, and the pile’s only getting higher. How do you show yourself off even though they haven’t met you yet? Add some personality and tell them why they should choose you! If you’ve run a club at school or sixth form, tell them. If you won an award in your chosen subject, tell them. If you took a gap year and went travelling with charities or did volunteer work, tell them. If you’ve done extra-curricular activities to get more experience in your chosen subject, tell them. This is your chance to get their attention!

4. Check ur spilling miscakes and grammer?

This one is the most tedious but it really goes without saying. You’ll definitely need a second and even third pair of eyes to go through your application and check for mistakes, but your spelling, punctuation and grammar are actually very key. No ‘LOL’s, ‘TBH’s or anything like that this time around, keep it professional. If you need help with these things, never be afraid to ask your peers and teachers — it’s what they’re here for!

5. Get to the point

You know when you ask someone a fairly simple question and they take ages to answer it? Yeah. It can be very easy to write the first things that come to your head and before you know it, you’ve reached your word limit. Try your best to not be that guy. Your question is “Why should we choose you for this course?” Enjoy yourself whilst you answer it!

6. Make sure your referee has your back!

The last thing you need after you’ve poured your heart out about your talents and grades is a referee that begs to differ. Choosing the right person to write your reference is also very key to submitting a successful application. They need to have enough belief in your future in order to write the truth that’ll help convince admission that you’re worth the place!

7. Keep your eye on the clock and deadlines

We’d hate for you to put all that hard work and effort in for your application to not be looked at in time. The same way you set time for homework, coursework and Love Island, take time out of your day to focus on your application.

It can feel like the work will never end, and can sometimes even be a struggle to complete but if you utilise the help around you, you’ll get it done in no time. Now, go and show them why you deserve to study in September!

Find out how to apply to UWE Bristol

How a degree can enhance your career prospects

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by Prisilla, MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering and Pilot Studies

The countdown begins. For some of you that might be when you start A-Levels or when you hear the ominous word ‘university’ or when you press submit on your UCAS application. Whatever it may be, going to university is a tough but rewarding decision to make. As someone who is on her fourth year of study (placement year) and has one final of year of Masters left to do, I have seen quite a bit of university life and the degree – the good and the bad times. So even though I am getting eager to leave university, I thought it might be good to tell you about what a degree can do for you through this blog.

A glimpse into your future career

To begin with, your chosen degree is your first glimpse into your future career. Through the lectures, the practicals and workshops, you will begin to know whether you want to continue in the chosen field/industry or if there is something else you enjoy. Most of the lecturers on campus are ex-industry employees, which means they have experienced the industry. So, you can quiz your lecturers about the good and the bad of the industry and maybe even open a chance to network with your future employer (if they have come from a company you are interested in). As you attend lectures and grow on your theoretical knowledge, your degree is helping you to understand the basics and core information. The practicals and workshops really get you stuck-in to the course, showing how theory works in reality. Depending on the module, the course and the coursework, the hands-on experience can vary with projects.

However, a degree is not just all work and no play. Most of the degrees have a dedicated society affiliated to it, which means you can take part in social activities and projects. It does not matter if you are a 1st year or in your final year; all societies love to have the extra help with their projects which means you get to have fun while learning a new skill. As a Student Ambassador, you can represent UWE at various events, gain extra interpersonal skills and showcase your knowledge – the great thing is you are paid to do it!

Get those career enhancing opportunities

Because you study at UWE, your entrance to the annual Employers’ fair is guaranteed. This fair, which takes place around October, brings you in direct contact with about 180 employers from all different industries. They bring with them opportunities of placements, graduate schemes and free goody-bags. If you are successful in applying and securing a placement, I would consider that as a great achievement. Going out on placement is a rewarding experience as not only do you put into practice what you have learnt in your lectures, but you get to see how a company interacts with political, social and economic changes. But it is fine if you don’t get a placement, as you can still get a job with what you’ve learnt in your degree, as 96% of UWE Bristol graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating.

If you are willing to take hold of everything UWE has to offer, you will not notice the time fly by!

The university listens to its students through student rep forums and makes sure their facilities are up to standard. Over the past years, I have seen the Frenchay campus grow in size due to new buildings for the faculties, which means more spaces to work in, more computers and more classrooms. With the added benefit of being able to download subject specific software and Microsoft Windows onto your personal computers, there really is no worry about not getting your work done on time.

Making connections with industry

Finally, in my personal opinion, it is through your degree that you make some great connections which last a lifetime. You not only meet students from all around the world and from all walks of life but you meet with industry professionals who will give you an insight into the working world and help you make the starting step into the field.

Want to see what a day at my placement looks like? Watch my Instagram takeover below!

Find out how to get those career enhancing opportunities at UWE Bristol.