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 your 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 set 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

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.

Stephanie’s international placement was a life-changing experience

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Physiotherapy student, Stephanie Joy Evans, talks about her once-in-a-lifetime experience of her clinical placements in Rovaniemi, Finland.

The land of Santa Claus

UWE Bristol’s Study Abroad made the unimaginable my living reality!

Moving to Finland, the land of Santa Claus, to complete two physiotherapy placements was beyond my wildest childhood dreams.

Waking to wild reindeer outside my window and sleeping with the glow of the northern lights peeking through my curtains, was certainly a unique opportunity.

Horse riding through Lapland’s famous woodlands, camping in its wilderness and swimming in its vast lakes; I’ve never felt so close to nature. All this, alongside my degree. I assure you, I can now spell phenomenal!

New opportunities and challenges

Sometimes it’s easy to think that your normal is the only way of life, but this experience exposed me to completely new opportunities and challenges that I never thought I would face.

It’s reinforced the idea to me that diversity needs to be embraced, not just with people, but also in workplace practices.

We can learn so much more if large groups of people collaborate together, sharing ideas and professional opinions, with enthusiasm and respect.

Using this approach, we can make positive changes to healthcare, driving an ambition forward with the goal being to provide the highest quality of care possible to those who need it.

Teamwork drives change, but a team celebrating diversity, strives towards positive change for all – I know which team I would rather be a part of.

Embrace the unknown

This opportunity has urged me to embrace the unknown, welcome change and challenge and to remain optimistic in all situations. In healthcare, these skills are assets to overcome the daily complications that so commonly arise.

My confidence in my ambition to strive forward, to achieve my career aims – to create the greatest possible impact upon those in need – has strengthened.

This experience has given me the courage to believe in myself and my ability to make my goals a reality.

The development of my non-verbal communication skills has progressed to beyond what I originally thought possible. Leading exercise classes independently and motivating individuals through their rehabilitation, without any common language, has advanced my use of facial expressions and body language in physiotherapy practice.

A priceless learning opportunity

This learning opportunity has been priceless and upon returning to my next clinical placement, I plan on progressing my ability of reading and responding to a patient’s body language. I will achieve this by associating a patient’s spoken words with their use of body language, which I can then apply if an absence of language becomes present in my future career.

This opportunity took me far outside of my comfort zone. As an individual with limited international travelling experience, the idea of moving abroad for any length of time was a daunting thought. However, this trip has taught me the wonders of diversity and encouraged me to embrace differing cultural traditions and ways of life.

My appreciation towards planet Earth has grown enormously. My aim upon returning to the UK is to reduce the negative impact that I make upon the planet and to encourage others to do the same, in aid of the whole ecosystem.

Advice to other students: Just go for it!

What are you waiting for?!

Just apply and think about the practicalities and logistics later – filling in that application form will be the best decision that you ever make!

Don’t think you’re not good enough, because you are! Just go for it!

I applied thinking – I would never be chosen – and here I am now, in my third year of university, having travelled for the past three months – funded and everything!

I wish I had known

Unfurnished means no curtains! Turns out the midnight sun literally means the sun never sets, meaning that I lay in broad daylight waiting for the possibility that it might just set – even for a minute! It didn’t, so I lay and watched the birds outside of my window wondering if they ever slept and how they maintained their energy levels!

Once in a lifetime opportunity

My lasting impression from this once in a lifetime opportunity, has been to actively encourage both myself and those around me to take a leap of faith into the unknown.

As long as the experience is approached with optimism, an open mind and a hard-working nature, your personal and professional development will progress far beyond what you could ever imagine.

A truly phenomenal experience that will stay in my heart forever.

How the experience has changed me

This experience made me realise that life is made to be lived and enjoyed, so I’m going to face challenges head on, with a drive to reach my career ambitions.

There are so many people in this world, all with different stories to tell, and I want to work in the most multicultural environment as possible to expose myself to new learning opportunities. I feel like the hospital is the best place to start!

Find out more

Find out about the benefits of going on placement from Francesca

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Francesca tells us about her fantastic placement with Sony.

Hi, I’m Francesca and I’m studying BA (Hons) Marketing Communication Management at UWE Bristol. It’s a fantastic course and one of the great aspects is that it includes a placement year. I secured a placement with Sony from July 2016 – July 2017, where I worked as a Trade Marketing and Channel Communications Executive. Going on placement is invaluable and I wanted to share my experience with you.

From day one, this was very much a real job with real responsibilities. My role involved creating communications such as newsletters, webinars, an SMS service and emails. I also got involved in monitoring sales, producing reports and supporting customers. I was impressed how much I was able to get involved in as a placement student. It was a little daunting at times, but I loved the opportunity to gain real experience.

The best part of my placement was working for a multinational corporation for the first time.

“Names don’t come much bigger than Sony so I was excited to be a part of this global brand. “

And I had some fantastic opportunities during my placement. I worked with colleagues across Europe, attended meetings in Paris and Malaga as well as trade shows in London and Bristol. These experiences brought my placement to life and gave me a better understanding of the business.

My advice to anyone going on placement is to take all opportunities that come your way. Remember to put yourself out there and network. Be proactive and ask questions. Take responsibility for your own learning, and you’ll get the most from it. And it’s normal to feel nervous, I certainly did. But everyone knows you’re on placement and they’re often happy to help – you just need to ask.

Going on placement has increased my confidence so much as I’ve gained new skills and experience. I’ve become more organised, which has been useful in my final year. And I now also understand the business world far better – I’ve had first-hand experience. I’m confident working with people at all levels too having learnt how to articulate myself well. In fact I’ve become a different person since the placement and I’m sure it will help me secure a great graduate position. I can’t recommend going on placement enough – you won’t regret it.’

Learn how students support each other through the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme.

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Elizabeth tells us about being a PAL leader. What it is and how it’s helped her make friends and grow in confidence. PAL stands for Peer Assisted Learning and is a scheme where students support each other throughout their studies.

Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I have been a PAL leader throughout my second year here at UWE Bristol. I used the PAL scheme during my first year and found it a really good way of helping me settle in and get to know people. It was good to talk to people who had been through it already and learn from their experiences. My brother had also been a PAL leader before me and so it was something that I really wanted to get involved in.

As an academic PAL leader I run a range of study support sessions. These are timetabled and group based and can be attended by students from all years. I run workshops to help students with academic skills and guide them to get any other support they may need.  Other PAL leaders run sessions to help with emotional resilience and careers and employability.  We make the sessions fun with interactive activities and games, so they’re a great way to get to know people.

We get to design the workshops based on our own experiences, along with help and support from staff and the senior PAL leaders who are in their third year. We find that workshops are particularly busy just before exams  where we talk a lot about coursework and how best to prepare.

Being a PAL leader has really increased my confidence. You are responsible for making sure you get to the sessions on time, sticking to deadlines and deciding what to talk about. I’ve also developed my presentation and organisation skills and used work based tools such as power point, which will look great on my CV.

I’ve made lots of friends through being a PAL leader. It’s a great way to widen your circle and get to know new people.  You get to talk to staff around the University which is a great confidence boost and it’s great fun as well.  I really want to become a senior PAL leader next year and would recommend getting involved in this scheme either as a leader or for the great support and advice it offers you.

Find out more about Peer Assisted Learning