Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Topic: School of Management

Take part in an adventure at university!

  

📥  School of Management, Undergraduate

Hoping to be a part of something spectacular at University? Secretly dream of being a performer? Look no further than the University of Bath’s very own A capella group: 'Aquapella'.

Amongst all the interesting lectures, coursework, nights out, and  more – a hint of music may be just what you are looking for. Aquapella is less of a group and more of a family, which opens doors to the most amazing experiences.

Just this past year the group excelled to new heights by competing in the International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s). Having placed 3rd at quarter-finals and 1st at the UK semi-finals, with one of their members being awarded ‘Best soloist’ for both of these rounds, they now hold the title of “UK National Champions of A capella 2017”. As if this wasn’t enough, the now UK National champs were invited to compete on Broadway in the Big Apple where they went on to win the International Award for Best Choreography. What a year it has been! How do I know? I myself was a member of the group during this unforgettable year.

Aquapella at the ICCA finals in New York

The inside scoop: the life of an Aquapella member…

Becoming a member of Aquapella is nothing short of an experience in itself. You start with a taster session where you can sing along with the group and get a feel for what Aquapella is like. Then there are the auditions and finally call-backs where the group will teach you some of their songs and see how you ‘blend’. Once you’re in, the fun starts!

Aquapella have the most exciting events on their calendar; from flash mobbing a TED talk, singing at School of Management Events, to flash mobbing a wedding (requested by the groom of course). You can most definitely catch Aquapella busking in the beautiful city of Bath on Saturdays and Sundays and if that’s not enough, you can even hire them yourself. But just before you think it’s all work no play, I can assure you that Aquapella’s social calendar is just as full with socials between the various A capella groups sprinkled across the UK.

Aquapella at the ICCA semi-finals in London

One of our first socials of the year was a karaoke night with the 'Bristol Suspension' A capella group, held at the Bristol University Students' Union. A few weeks later we travelled to Cardiff for a blast from the past with a decade themed social where each group dressed up to the nines of different times. In addition, to these socials, Aquapella holds their very own annual Christmas meal and Aquapella reunion night in December. These two nights are an all-time favourite where firstly, you get to indulge in the Christmas festivities such as turkey, mulled wine and Secret Santa, and secondly, new Aquapella members get to meet old members as well as the founder of Aquapella himself, whilst of course singing and dancing the night away.

Work, work, work, work

International Championships of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)

Getting to the top requires hard work but there was laughter all the way. Preparation for the ICCA’s involved vocal training, choreography, and great marketing efforts to fund the group’s travel. From Exeter for the quarter-finals, London for the semi-finals, and New York for the international finals I can safely say that the group bonded incredibly through this journey both on and off of the stage.

Edinburgh Fringe

Each year Aquapella travels to Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they rent out a venue and put on an hour-long show which takes your through a journey filled with laughter, inspiration, as well as ‘sass’ and leaves you in joyful tears. The Aquapella Fringe show is nothing short of really hard work – the group trains for two weeks to bring the sheet music to life and all members hand out flyers each day at the festival in order to bring the public to the show. Fringe is another incredible experience filled with yet more laughter, cooking rotas, board games, and special end of year celebrations.

Parading around the streets of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival

Handing out flyers to a famous face at the Edinburgh Fringe festival

Aquapella, where to now???

Having recorded and released a music video for their single “Somebody Else” just this past year, Aquapella stays on the ball by recently having been in the studio recording a fantastic cover of “Purple Rain” (coming out soon). The group has also entered the Voice Festival UK this year! Keep an eye out for more details about performances, song releases, competitions, ball games, and more on their Facebook Page and their brand-new website. And if you do end up coming to Bath and feel that you’d like to be a part of Aquapella’s unforgettable adventures, then you should definitely put yourself forward for the Freshers' Week auditions. I am really glad that I did, and have learnt so much about music and myself by being a part of this very special musical family.

Some more photos from our time in New York City at the International Champs of Collegiate A capella (ICCA’s)....

 

 

 

HPC Supply-Chain Innovation Placement Blog - 3

  

📥  School of Management, Uncategorized

Bienvenu à Paris

This blog tells all about my 5-month Expat Traineeship in Paris with EDF. From integrating into Parisian life in and outside the workplace, travelling around France with EDF and attempting to learn French, it truly was an experience that I’d recommend to anyone.

(A photo I took in Jardin du Luxembourg, my French colleagues weren’t very impressed)

Immediately after moving in to my apartment in the 6th arrondissement (Saint-Germain-Des-Pres), I felt at ease. The flat provided by EDF was perfect, and the location even better, right in the historical centre of Paris.  My first day at work started the following week, allowing me time to get acquainted with Paris. As I already had three English friends from the University of Bath living just down the road, Parisian life got off to a great start. During my first week in the office I was introduced to my mentor and team, briefed on my responsibilities and was given a free pass to EDF’s excellent canteen. I soon became good friends with the six other interns in my department, who I still keep in contact with today. The majority of people spoke excellent English; however, in a group situation, over a long lunch break for example, it become clear that English wouldn’t be spoken. At first that was daunting, however it was a blessing in disguise, forcing me to speak French from day one. Not long after I arrived, the department manager invited me along on their annual trip, which this year involved a two day visit to Normandy.

 

(We had a day rally in classic Citroen cars around Normandy during our annual department trip away)

What sort of work was I doing?

During my time in Paris I was placed in EDF’s Procurement Division (DAPI) in the Procurement Department for Nuclear Engineering working on the Hinkley Point C and Flamanville 3 projects. Luckily, the majority of the work was in English, but the team made every effort to help improve my French when possible, to compliment my 4 hours private French lessons per week. Our team was responsible for managing the procurement process with the suppliers. My main day-to-day tasks were: liaising with suppliers, report documentation of the procurement process, constructing the commercial appendices for the FIDIC contracts and supplier commercial bid analysis. In my final week I was given the opportunity to present my teams procurement paper (in English!) to the HPC Board of Directors. I was nervous, but my attempt gained unanimous approval.

Flamanville 3 site visit

The highlight of my working life at EDF was a trip to Flamanville 3 (FA3). FA3 is the design used for HPC, but only 1 unit is being built at FA3. It is nearing its commissioning phase so the majority of the site looks and is complete. It’s now just a case of putting it all together (maybe I oversimplified that a little). After an overnight stop in Cherbourg, I had an unrestricted 3-hour tour with a very knowledgeable engineering colleague (albeit in French). The highlights for me were seeing the automated control room running tests around the nuclear power station and standing at the very top of the nuclear dome, observing billions of Euros of equipment and millions of man-hours of work. It truly is an astonishing sight, the scale and complexity is overwhelming.

 

(My mentor and I standing at the vantage point for the FA3 reactor)

My 5-months working for EDF in Paris couldn’t have more interesting or challenging. I made some lasting connections, started to learn a new language, explored an incredible city/country and developed my professional and technical competencies. My final blog will be about transitioning back to university life as a final year student, au revoir!

 

HPC Supply Chain Innovation Placement Blog- Post 2

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📥  School of Management

Welcome back! My second blog will give you an insight in to the three areas of work I focused on during in my time with EDF Energy in Bristol at the Delivery Command Centre (DCC) for the HPC project. Being present during visits from the EDF Energy CEO, the French ambassador and other VIPs, the newly built DCC is a hive of activity; but this blog won’t just be confined to the office: with my team keen for me to get out and about, I have a few interesting events/visits to tell you about.

International Supply Chain Management

I had the unique opportunity to work personally with the International Supply Chain Lead on the HPC Project. With the French energy giant EDF assuming a 66.5% share and China's CGN having a 33.5% stake, HPC is the definition of international collaboration. I was able to see how the complex global supply networks were formed, managed and developed on a daily basis. The complexity is quite overwhelming at first, but fascinating when you start to delve deeper. The aim of the game was to bring international suppliers in to the HPC procurement process to: increase competition amongst suppliers, decipher previous EPR learning and offer fresh perspectives. I was able to put into practice the soft skills I had developed at Bath that were relatable to the international components of my degree.

When a last minute opportunity arose to attend a Team Building event in Paris between EDF UK, EDF France and EDF China, I couldnt believe my luck. After quickly scrambling an overnight bag together, I found myself in Paris listening to how the HPC international supply chain can learn extensively from the two ongoing EPR projects close to completion in France (Flamanville 3) and in China (Taishan). I got the chance to visit FA3 recently (see picture below) and in my next blog will divulge the details.

Taishan, in China, taking shape

Me (left) with my mentor at Flamanville 3

Similarly, I accompanied the HPC International Supply Chain Lead to the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017, organised by the UK Government Department for International Trade. The two day event took place at a London hotel hosting international delegates, industry experts, politicians and CEOs to promote the revival of the UK nuclear industry. It was particularly interesting to appreciate the perspectives of the Japanese and German delegates/companies, given their recent abrupt scale back in nuclear production. Seeing the other side of the debate is always worthwhile, whether in agreement or not.

Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox delivering a key note speech at the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017

Contract Management

During my time in Bristol (and London) I worked in the field of Contract Management across three varied contract formats.  I helped roll out newly developed contract management software in the Project Management Office team, giving me an oversight of how the HPC project was managed from a resource perspective. I also worked on a high value Balance of Nuclear Plant contract, helping with the day to day management of the contract. Towards the end of my placement, my team leader sent me to London to spend time with the Institutional Contract team to observe how the institutional contracts between NNB and EDF Energy, EDF, CGN and UK Government are arranged, governed and managed on a daily basis. Developing a deeper understanding of how the international stakeholders relationships are structured, gave substance to the strategy, organisation and culture modules undertaken during my first two years at the University of Bath.

A few stats about HPC

Financial Management

Aware of my interest in the Financial Management of the HPC Project, my manager arranged for me to spend time working with the financial controls team in London. Working with the financial tools and models used to manage a project of this magnitude was an eye opening experience. I was immediately struck by the sheer financial complexity of the numbers behind HPC, testament to the years of dedicated hard work from all relevant stakeholders. This area of work was probably the most relatable to the modules I have completed at Bath (and during academic exchange in Mexico) such as: Project Finance, Corporate Finance and International Accounting for Managers.

French

Before heading  out to Paris for 4 months on an expat traineeship, EDF Energy provided me with private French tuition for 4-6 hours a week (within office hours) to help with work place integration and life outside work in Paris. French isn’t required to undertake the work in Paris, but is certainly useful. This is an example of the way EDF Energy is keen to invest in all employees. For me personally, being given the opportunity to learn a second language in my placement year was a real bonus.

Next time I`ll be talking about my 4 month expat assignment working for EDF in their Procurement Division for Nuclear Engineering in Paris, including work trips around France. À bientôt

 

HPC Supply-Chain Innovation Placement Blog

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📥  School of Management

First things first

Currently writing from Paris, in the midst of a`canicule` (French for heatwave), this blog aims to give students a flavour of what working in the fields of supply chain management/complex project management entails. Similarly, I’ll be providing a unique insight into my EDF Energy Hinkley Point C (HPC) International Placement year to raise awareness and promote the different job opportunities available with EDF Energy, in light of the new partnership with the University of Bath.

The bulk of my blog posts will be focused around my role for EDF Energy on the HPC project,  high profile events I’ve attended, the international aspect of my placement and how the modules I’ve taken during my first two years at the University of Bath (and during my academic exchange in Mexico) have helped me along the way. With blog publications every couple of weeks, why not read for a glimpse into a placement year that has truly ticked all the boxes.

A little about me

I`m a 3rd year BSc (Hons) in International Management student at the University of Bath with a desire to pursue a career in the low carbon energy industry after graduating. Initially, I applied for placements in the renewable energy sector in Europe (solar and wind predominantly), without considering nuclear. However, when the chance to work on the world’s largest low carbon energy investment arose, it was an opportunity I simply couldn’t refuse (all will be revealed in good time).

I had already secured an academic exchange at ITESM in Mexico for semester one, therefore I deliberately tailored my modules to the work I would be doing for EDF Energy upon my return: supply chain management, project finance, logistics and Spanish (maybe not so useful considering I am now based in Paris).

What is HPC?

Now you`re probably thinking `Okay, but what is Hinkley Point C`? Well, you can find out here. Or, strain your eyes below on the artist’s impression of the multi-billion nuclear construction project of two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) on the coast of Somerset. HPC will soon be the largest construction site in Europe. More photos can be found on the @hinkleypointc Instagram account.

Artist`s impression of Hinkley Point C when completed

 

Me enjoying my weekends in Mexico

Participating in an induction day at ITESM, Puebla (Mexico)

Introducing the ‘EDF Energy HPC International Placement’

An exciting new research partnership between EDF Energy and the University of Bath, School of Management has now been established – The HPC Supply Chain Innovation Lab. EDF Energy naturally want to offer placements to University of Bath, School of Management students. I am the inaugural BSc in International Management (BIM) student, so here’s a brief overview of how my International Placement was set up.

The competitive recruitment process consisted of a cover letter/CV, followed by a 1 hour interview with the Commercial Director of the HPC Project Ken Owen and a senior member of his staff. After successfully being chosen for the role, I subsequently went to meet Ken again in July 2016 to organise the details of my placement before heading to Mexico.

Ken made it very clear that the sheer size and complexity of the project meant a placement student would be able to choose from a variety of business/management disciplines to work in: supply chain management, procurement, contract management, finance, human resources, law and the list continues.

You won`t find many Commercial Directors willing to engage with a placement student on such a personal level, showing the high level of attention he has for all young people wanting to join the field of supply chain/contract/project management. We decided to split my 8 months by locations and areas of work to suit my specific interests:

Bristol/London (3 months)- Contract Management, International Supply Chain Management & Finance
Paris (4 months)- Procurement
Bristol/London (1 months)- International Supply Chain Management and Finance

Until next time

I hope my first blog provided a clear introduction into the HPC project, the link between University of Bath and EDF Energy and the EDF Energy HPC International Placement. My next blog will give you an insight in to my day to day work during my three months in Bristol/London. Specifically, working personally with the Head of International Supply Chain on the HPC Project, helping to roll out contract management software for multi-million pound contracts and analysing a multi-billion pound project using complex financial models. Stay tuned.

 

MBA Global Residency in St. Petersburg, Russia

📥  Global Residencies, MBA, Postgraduate, School of Management, Uncategorized

Dee JiaTakahito Honda

by Dee Jia & Takahito Honda (2016-17 MBA students)

We have spent seven wonderful days (June 10 – 17, 2017) in St. Petersburg for the Global Residency program from the Bath MBA. The International Management Institute of St. Petersburg (IMISP) was a great host and presented us with a multi-dimensional experience of Russian business and culture.  Below are a few things that highlighted the trip.

IMISP

Lectures and Presentations  

IMISP is one of the leaders in Russian business education, offering high quality of continuing education for more than 1,000 managers from Russia and Soviet Union. Sitting in their state of the art lecture room, we’ve taken advantage of this great opportunity and learned a great deal about Russia and its culture.

The Professors from IMISP gave wonderful lectures and cases, from which we have experienced a different business world in Russia. The classes on “Doing business with Russian business people”, “Business-Model-Canvas” and “Five Russian Tsars – Five models of Russia’s future” definitely helped us understand the way of doing business in Russia. In particular, “Doing business with Russian business people” has shown us the unique character of Russian culture, and the typical organizational structure and decision-making process. In return, we gave presentations such as “Seven Business Models” to IMISP.

presentation   presentation

Company Visits

We had the opportunity to visit three companies in St. Petersburg during the trip.

· ESTEL: a beauty cosmetic manufacturer;

· Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH): the biggest beer manufacturer in Russia;

· YIT Company:  a property developer.

The company visiting experience is invaluable. ESTEL and Baltic are both Russian-based businesses. These companies are operating in the Russian domestic market, as well as the post-Soviet Union markets such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Belarus. Due to the massive geographical scale, the companies usually face supply chain management issues. However, they have adopted global operating systems such as the TPS (Toyota Production System) to improve their operational processes.

On the other hand, from the visit to YIT, we learned that there are many Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) who are looking to invest in Russia, especially in St Petersburg. St Petersburg is the biggest trading gateway in Russia and post-Soviet Union market, and several global companies such as Siemens, Coca-Cola and Toyota have already launched production lines in St Petersburg. The challenge for manufacturers in St Petersburg is its infrastructure. For example, the lack of water and an unstable electricity supply.  However, the local government is making effort to solve the issues.

company visits Russia   company visits russia

Leisure Time and Russian Culture

In addition to the lectures and company visits, we enjoyed very much exploring the city! St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and an important Russian port on the Baltic sea. It is Russia’s “Window to Europe”. The city combines Russian, Asian and European cultures in the most extraordinary way. It has many magnificent architectures, museums and parks. To name a few, we visited the famous Hermitage museum, which contains the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso; we took a wonderful boat trip on the canals; and we certainly did not miss the famous Peterhof Palace, the Russian Versailles. Peterhof is an imperial palace in the suburb built by Peter the Great in 1700s.

While wandering around Peterhof, we couldn’t stop admiring the magnificent palaces and gardens. If you have one day in St Petersburg, we’d suggest you to definitely visit Peterhof Palace!

Sights of St Petersburg

Foods in Russia

We also have enjoyed the diversified and hearty Russian foods in St. Petersburg. The foods are a mixture of Asian, European, Middle Eastern and Russian. For example, Polo (Pilaf) and Mantu (Dumplings) were originated from Central Asia whereas Beef stroganoff and Ikra (Caviar) were from west and sea side. The traditional Russian foods include Borsch (beet and cabbage red soup), Blini (Russian pancakes), Russian salads, and Russian dumplings. This variety of choice absolutely satisfied our hunger for an exchange of British foods…

Russian food 1 Russian food 2 Russian food 3

 

MBA Global Residency at the entrepreneurial French Riviera: an inspiring setting for innovation

📥  Global Residencies, MBA, Postgraduate, School of Management

Students sitting on a wall by a beach

Once upon a time, nine entrepreneurs from Bath MBA decided to go to Skema Business School's campus located at Sophia Antipolis to get a further understanding of innovation and its endeavors.  Even though Sophia Antipolis sounds like a town in Ancient Greece, it is the European Silicon Valley situated between the sea and the mountains at the French Riviera.

 

collage of beach shots

Looking at the scenery it is easy to understand why Pablo Picasso decided to stay and to see where his inspiration and enthusiasm came from. As Pablo Picasso was the pioneer of the Cubist movement, the Côte d’Azur has at least 200 start-ups in Information and Communication Technologies and Perfumeries spread between five incubators and four accelerators. Our journey in the South of France started on a Sunday. We went to explore Monaco,

Our journey in the South of France started on a Sunday. We went to explore Monaco, Nice and Menton, a hidden magical place located on the Italian-French border.It was the perfect mixture, culture, natural beauty, and leisure.

 

Pablo Picasso house collage

On Monday morning we departed to Skema University, where we met our wonderful professors and hosts: Dominique, Michel, Etienne, and Elisabeth.  During the week, we were delivered the program of innovation and Entrepreneurship: Doing Business in Europe. The content of the course not only was practical but also complemented our studies with an effectual approach to entrepreneurship. Between classes, we developed two different business ideas that aimed to disrupt the fashion and travel industries.

 

Skema University

After Class, we had the chance to explore the little villages around from Cannes to Monte Carlo. Later, between 7 pm and 9 pm, we enjoyed the sunset at the beach only two blocks away from the hotel. La French Cuisine was the protagonist of the trip. Every day we had the opportunity to eat at least one meal by the seaside, and a promenade afterward was mandatory. If we had to choose the best dinner of the week that one would be Chez Lulu, a Michelin recommended restaurant, were we celebrated Joanna’s Birthday.

 

Celebration meal

During the week, among du Vin, de la Champagne, des Macarons, du Fromage, Volleyball at the beach, morning runs and group projects, we had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Amadeus, the biggest corporation, and employer located in the region.

 

Amadeus picture

We also had the occasion to observe the perfume production at Fragonard, perfumery.  There we explore the whole process, and of course, we had the emphasis on the sales customer journey, which was a total success. Regarding entrepreneurship, we had three talks with entrepreneurs located in a start-up incubator in Le Grasse, the capital of perfume in France.

We could not be more grateful for an experience where we learned by exploring; the Global Residency is without a doubt a very mindful part of the program. It was a lovely event composed of fun, family, friends, culture, gorgeous food and most importantly knowledge.

Animez-vous pour découvrir la France, Bon Voyage !

 

Lisa flowers picture

“The trip was perfect! We saw beautiful sights along the stunning Côte d'Azur, got to enjoy the beach, sea, and sunshine every day, had very interesting company visits and insights into the innovation and entrepreneurship scene in the south of France. I would highly recommend this trip to all future students!”

Lisa Solovieva, MBA student

 

Joanna Borecka photo

"I had such a great time! SKEMA School was so well prepared for our visit, the teaching program was excellent, it has genuinely enriched my understanding of entrepreneurship. It was also a brilliant opportunity to spend more time with my fellow MBA students - they were fantastic companions!"

Joanna Borecka, MBA student

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

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📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management, Second year

After two horrendous weeks of exams, it was time for the long-awaited and deserved Inter-semester break. Different university societies plan different trips during this week-long break before Semester 2 starts. The most well know trip is probably the Ski Trip to Val Thornes, which I have heard is quite awesome and you can read Hannah's blog post about it here.

As the Chair of the German Society it was my responsibility to plan the trip to Germany’s capital Berlin. The planning had already started in October, so I was really glad when exams finished and my little German society group was able to finally board a bus to Gatwick Airport. After a little detour on the motorway as our bus driver missed the exit to Gatwick and a lot of panic from my side, we arrived at the airport at 11 am and landed in Berlin in the afternoon.

Our hostel was literally in the middle of Berlin – the former East Berlin - just right next to the famous Alexanderplatz with its TV Tower. At the check-in it felt like we had never left Bath as it was a Belushis pub and hostel, which we also have in Bath and most of the staff only spoke English and hardly knew any German. However, once we left the little hostel bubble behind us it hit me hard that we are in Berlin, one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe. You will find a typical East German building called Plattenbau in one street and just around the corner you will find a modern skyscraper.

It was crazy to see how the division of Germany and especially Berlin still has an impact on the city itself. The city itself remembers its famous division wall- the Berliner Mauer – with two brick rows on the street to mark where the wall stood. For me it was unbelievable to imagine that this city was divided into a Communist and a Democratic part for such a long time and that this ended just a few years before I was born.

As this was more or less a study trip to experience German culture and get a sense of living in a German city, we planned a lot of activities. It included a lot of German food – Currywurst, Schweinsbraten and Bread – and of course good German beer and Radler, a mixture between beer and lemonade. Considering I ate meat twice a day you would think that German cuisine only consist of meat dishes, but the vegetarian in our group always found something to eat as well. Even the non-drinkers were able to survive without drinking beer.

Embracing German food and beer

Embracing German food and beer

For me, the most interesting part of our trip was to visit the German Reichstag, the house of the German parliament. In this house you can actually feel the drastic political changes Germany underwent in the 20th and 21st century before it became this European superpower. The outside of the building was built in the monarchy, whereas inside you will find a modern glass cubicle designed by Norman Foster to house the united German government. However, the parliament only started its work in the new building ten years after the reunification. In the inside you will also find Russian graffiti left by the Russian soldiers at the end of the Second World War and you will still see some marks left by bombs.

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

Russian Graffiti in the Reichstag

The most impressive part about the building is probably the glass dome. The idea behind it is that members of the parliament should look up to see members of the public walking around to be remembered why they are in parliament in the first place. The public on the other side can look down on the elected members to have an eye on them so that something like the Nazi regime cannot happen again.

All in all, I can only recommend going away in the inter-semester break with a society. You will see a new city, you will meet new people and you are predicted to have some fun and might even make some friends.

 

Applying for a year abroad

  

📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

There are certain expectations that you should set for yourself if you're planning to go to university.

  1. Someone will always steal your milk and not own up to it
  2. You will often be faced with the choice of going to your 9:15am lecture or sleeping in
  3. You are going to spend most of your Christmas holidays studying for January exams.

Personally, the third one is holding true at the moment but this year I am also in the midst of applying for placements for my year abroad. As part of my International Management & Modern Languages (French) degree, or FIMML for short, I spend my third year in France. I have 12 months abroad and this can be spent in any of the following combinations:

  1. 12 months placement
  2. 12 months in a French business school
  3. 6 months placement / 6 months business school.

For anyone who is considering applying to France, it is worth noting that the French government has just brought in a law which restricts placements to 6 months maximum within any organisation. In order to spend 12 months in a French placement, it is now necessary to apply for two separate 6 month placements in different departments of the same company or different companies altogether. My cohort is the first to experience this new law and therefore it will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

Preparation

From the offset, our year abroad officer, Ninon, has been brilliant in preparing us for our applications. I will not get bogged down in the details of the preparation but if you attend all her presentations which will be scheduled into your timetable, you will be ready to start applying. In terms of learning to write French CVs and cover letters, this will be dealt with in your french seminars but it is coordinated between Ninon and the seminar tutors. For this reason, I would say it is crucial that you do not skip any of your French seminars in 2nd year.

Ninon's presentations have included:

  • A presentation on all the different business schools
  • Advice on applying for placements
  • Organised meetings with 4th year students who have just returned from their year abroad, and much more.

All of this information has helped me to make an informed decision on how I want to spend my year abroad and I'm going to attempt to apply for two 6 months placements. I've actually just submitted my first application and am now moving onto my second so let's discuss that and see how straightforward it was.

If you want to go to a business school, it acts like an exchange. Uni of Bath takes some of their students and in return they take some of ours. There are a number of prestigious French business schools which you can apply to including multiple ones in Paris, Strasbourg and Nancy. You'll be inserted into one of the business courses and complete your modules in French. These marks are then converted and added to your degree at Bath. I had the pleasure of visiting Nancy last June and it is a beautiful city in the east of France. I was also in Strasbourg train station however, I'm not sure if that counts.

Nancy Ville, France

Nancy Ville, France

Applying

Around November, companies will start making placements available to apply for. These will be sent to your year abroad officer and they will then post them on Moodle. Moodle is an online service which every university student has access to with their online login details. It also contains all your course and module resources. Once on Moodle, you can download the job advertisement, see the application deadline, see who you need to send your applications to etc.

My first application was to a company called Thales. They're a huge global company, specialising in defense, aerospace and security and all those sorts of things. Thales, like many other companies will have a good relationship with University of Bath because of our fantastic reputation. As a result, some of the placements advertised will be exclusively for University of Bath students which reduces the competition to your cohort.

Some applications will ask you for a CV and cover letter in French or English. I chose to send both in french because the next step will be a Skype interview in french. My logic is that if I have already submitted two documents in good French, my interviewers will already have faith that I can write well in french on the chance that I stumble with my french in the interview. It is worth bearing in mind that most companies will appreciate that you are not yet fluent and the point of the year abroad will be to become fluent in french so there is some leeway (apparently). Still, you want to impress them right?

Another useful tip is to try and get into contact with any Bath students who have either had a placement with the company or are currently on placement with the company. I am really lucky because I actually have a friend who is on her year abroad with Thales at the moment. Well, I use the word friend. To her I'm probably just the annoying Irish kid who is constantly begging for help with his CV at 2am (3am in Paris). If you're reading this, I'm sorry but also thank you. Yeah. Moving swiftly on.

So I typed up my cover letter which was one page long; I tweaked my CV to make it specific to the role I was applying to and I emailed it to Thales. It was right before the Christmas holidays so I don't expect a reply for a little while. However, I'm going to send another one tomorrow and hope that I get an interview for at least one of them. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to spending time with my dog. It is Christmas day after all. Happy Holidays!

My Dog 

 

Second year counts

  

📥  International student, Mirella, School of Management

In first year everything is fun and giggles. You find everything exciting, as it is your first year at university. Of course, not everything is so fun (see my other post “Rollercoaster” for more information on this). However, second year is a completely different experience.

You have already made friends, you know your way around town and university and you already know you like to do with your free time. This should of course not discourage you to try out new things in second year or make no new friendships. In fact I have made some new and strengthened some loose friendships. The main difference is though that “Second year counts”.

Second year counts

What does this actually mean? First year is there to make it easier for us students to get into the vibe of university. You get to know your course, you learn how to write essays and you learn about plagiarism and more importantly how to avoid it. This is why your grades in first year do not count towards your final grade. It is one of the wonderful things university has to offer. It allows students to live a little bit. However, students should not forget that grades are still important if you want to secure a placement. Most employers are looking for a minimum of a 2:1, which means you have to get over 60%. If you attend regularly lectures and revise before the exams, chances are high of attaining a 2:1, even with experiencing Freshers' life to the full.

Second year counts 32% towards your final grade. What an odd number to be honest. As this grade might decide about your future, if you think about your employability after university, it is important what grades you achieve in second year. This puts a little bit of pressure on.

However, not only do you have to worry about your grades but you also have to secure a placement for your third year. Personally, this stresses me a little. While I am writing this, I am on my Christmas break at home. Unfortunately, it is not a real break like the summer holidays. I regard it more as three weeks at home, which I have to devote to studying. Obviously, I don’t revise all the time.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone!

After all, I still have holidays and I want to celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve.  As a student you also have to relax after the deadline horror of courseworks before the end of the semester. However, I do spend at least an hour or two every day revising. Obviously, I will increase this devoted time in revision week because as you already know “Second year counts” and five exams are quite a lot to write within two weeks.

How to spend the holidays in second year

How to spend the holidays in second year

The rest of the time of my Christmas holiday I spent worrying about my placement. I am not too anxious about not securing a placement. The placement team is trying to be really helpful and there are a lot of opportunities to apply for placements but I would rather have one sooner than later. Furthermore, you still have to apply for these placements and it takes quite a lot of time to write a good cover letter. It does not help though if your grandmother is constantly asking you if you have finally found work or if your family just talks about you finding a placement during the Christmas dinner. So if anybody is reading this and wants to offer me a placement, just leave a comment. I would be really grateful, it just has to be 12-months long, be in the field of marketing and hopefully the paycheck at the end of the month can cover my rent!

Optimistic outlook

I hope I haven’t frightened anybody about university. I still think it was the best decision of my life to study at the University of Bath. However, second year and especially semester one of second year is not easy at all. Hopefully, second semester will be better. To be honest, I already know second semester will be better. I will have secured a placement and I will know where I will live. Most importantly though: I will only write two exams in May. This takes a lot of pressure from me as I prefer coursework over exams. Wish me luck!

 

Deadlines: 99 Problems and they're all due by Friday

  ,

📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

The first thing I should say here is that I haven't actually got 99 problems and I don't actually have any deadlines set for Friday. I do have one for Tuesday but "I have one assignment and it's due on Tuesday" is more of a small talk conversation starter than a thought provoking blog title. No matter, it is what it is.

I have however just come out of an incredibly intense four weeks in which I was pushed to the limit in terms of trying to balance university studies with everything else. This has led me to ask if trying to balance too much is worth it, what the drawbacks are and what is the best way to cope in situations where you feel like you're drowning in work.

I started off this semester by resigning from my part time job at a local restaurant in Bath with the plan of focussing 100% on my studies and relaxing this year. I've worked part time with my studies since I was 15 and I'd decided it was time for a year to just study. This all went down the drain less than a week later when I received an unexpected email from a very well known technology company, inviting me to attend an interview for a position in their store - I really couldn't say no.

By the end of October, I'd managed to secure a job within the company and went on to begin working in one of their stores which for the first few weeks was incredibly demanding because I had so much to learn and do - I was spending on average 45 hours per week there for the month of November before I resumed normal contracted hours at the beginning of December.

On top of the 45 hours at work, I had to make sure I attended all of my lectures which involved some very creative time management. I had multiple coursework deadlines due throughout November along with a number of mid term assessments. So how did I try to manage this and what were the drawbacks?

Staying on Top of Coursework & Assessments

The key to staying well on top of coursework is to start it as early as possible. Most courses will give you your coursework assignments in the first couple of weeks and as soon as you know the questions, you can begin to get some books and start reading about it at the start of semester before you get too busy.

I'm really not a nerdy person - I usually facilitate watching Netflix all day by setting myself personal deadlines for a week or two before the actual deadline and force myself to have my essays finished by then. Just before my crazy four weeks, I realise that I needed to get on top of things early so I went home to Northern Ireland for 4 days. In the 4 days, I completed two essays by dedicating two full days to each and not allowing myself to return to Bath without two essays ready for submission. I find this tactic of doing loads of research and blasting the essay out in a couple of days is often a good one. It stops you dragging out one essay for a few weeks. It also lets you quickly check a whole task off your long list of things to do and this will majorly reduce your stress levels - make sure you do adequate research before starting though!

With two essays already ready to go before I'd even started working, that left me to organise my calendar and schedule in specific times to prepare for my 4 assessments and write my remaining essay. I found that having an incredibly precise daily calendar allowed me to keep on track by knowing exactly what I was doing and when. I'd usually prepare this a day in advance and it looked something like this for a few weeks:

My busy schedule

My busy schedule

Drawbacks

As you can see from the calendar picture above, I didn't really have much of a social life over those few weeks but at the same time, I was making a lot of new friends in the training for my new job so there was a social side to that in some respects. I also missed out on things like going to the gym which I usually do quite regularly to relax which was a definite drawback.

I found that the most important thing was making sure that I got adequate sleep because if you get out of a regular sleeping pattern, it becomes incredibly difficult to catch up. That meant strict bed times and wake up times. I tried to set aside an hour at the end of every day before going to sleep where I could just chill and watch some TV or see some friends but it didn't always happen.

There were multiple times where I felt like there was no end in sight and the lack of free time often made it feel like days were just running into one another.

Is it worth it?

I think that for anyone who tries to get involved in extracurricular activities at university, there is always going to be a point where you're going to be biting off more than you can chew and sometimes you are going to have a couple of really intense weeks where you maybe don't get to do all the things you'd usually do.

Whilst I wouldn't recommend taking on so much that you constantly find yourself too busy to cope, I would say that there are times where you just need to roll up your sleeves, have a few late nights and get your head down for a few weeks. It's important that you stay on top of work and have a clear plan about how you're going to keep on top of everything and have a time in the future that you're working towards where you know you can finally relax.

"There is no substitute for hard work" (Thomas Edison)