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

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