Today I’m here to share a Uni Life interview with you. The purpose behind this interview series is to give prospective and current students an insight into life at university, what it takes to get there and how to survive.
It’s hard to know what path to take when you’re in college. I hope that this series will give you a chance to learn from current and recently graduated students about the courses you’re interested in. This week I’m talking with Jade, a Retail Marketing graduate from at Leeds Metropolitan University.
What course did you study at university?
I studied Retail Marketing Management at Leeds Metropolitan University, it was a 3 year course with an option to do a sandwich year between years 2 and 3 but I chose to go straight to final year.
Did you have to study specific subjects at college to get onto the course?
No, I just needed 240 UCAS points to get in.
How did you know this was the right course for you?
Basically I’d always loved retail (worked in a shop from the age of 13) and the behind the scenes/management side of things really interested me. My auntie was also an assistant buyer for John Lewis, I always looked up to her and decided from an early age that this might be the road for me to go down.
What do you enjoy most about your course?
I genuinely enjoyed the learning, some of it was better than others obviously but I loved reading the books around it. Having the library at uni was a godsend for me because I could spend hours in there getting work done and reading without any distractions.
What do you find most challenging about your course?
The Harvard referencing, my god that was the bane of my life for 3 years, I could never see the point in such a long winded way of saying where a piece of information came from but hey ho, it’s the way most universities ask you to reference I think!
Are internships easy to come by in your field?
I know a few people on my course did a year in industry which is similar to a paid internship. I think there are plenty to go around through most of the big retail brands/companies.
Please tell us about an internship/work experience that you’ve gained something positive from.
I worked in our family pub throughout university and it taught me that the books aren’t an exhaustive source of information. Theorists might say one thing but real life is often much different; looking at a retail/hospitality situation from the inside taught me that it’s not as easy as it seems and it’s not as clean cut as reading instructions from a book. Being in industry shows a prospective employer that not only can you do the theory you can also apply it properly to the practical side of things.
Did you have any career plans in mind for when you’d graduated?
After a year of university I knew that I’d be working in the pub full time so when choosing which topics to study I went down the road of small businesses, business plans etc. It’s always useful to have an idea of what you might want to do when you’ve graduated especially if your course requires you to specialise.
Did you take part in any student groups or outside activities?
No, I lived at home so this was quite difficult for me to do as I commuted to and from university which was a 40 minute drive. I did live at uni for 6 months in the first year but decided it wasn’t for me.
What did you do in your spare time?
Worked and chilled at home, like I say nights out were difficult because I lived 40 minutes away and even when I did live there I didn’t feel like I fitted in. I was overweight and lacked confidence massively which didn’t help unfortunately.
What would you’ve liked to have known about university life before you started?
That they don’t always treat you like adults. I always assumed that lecturers would treat me pretty much as an equal but some of them made me feel like I was still at school. Also unless you’re really outgoing I would say that you’ll probably find the whole experience quite difficult at first. Also referencing, nobody told me about Harvard bloody referencing.
What kept you motivated?
The fact that I’d got myself into debt for it and I knew if I dropped out my family would be so disappointed.
What advice would you offer to prospective students?
Don’t do it because of pressure from family/friends. Only go to university if you truly feel like you want to because it’s a hell of a waste of money if your heart and soul isn’t in it.
There are lots of careers that don’t require you to go to university, in fact I’d say that some career paths actually benefit far more from work experience than a degree. There’s the obvious exception in the medical and law fields but do your research and you’ll find that there’s always a different path if you’re not sold on going to university.
Finally, what was your go to meal after a busy day of lectures?
I always wanted comfort food so anything pasta or mashed potato based was a winner for me. If I could have come home to shepherds pie every night I would have done! Although when I did live at uni the reality was much more like a packet of bacon Supernoodles (how very cliche!).
I want to say a big thank you to Jade for taking part in this interview and wish her the best of luck with her future career. As Jade mentions, it’s very important to ensure you’re going to university for the right reasons. Don’t be afraid to take a little time out before deciding upon a course or a potential career direction.