Naomi Smith freely admits looking for the right course and best university was a bit of a struggle at first. Being asked to pick a subject to study that could have such a big impact on her life was a pretty daunting task. Eventually, Naomi, who is now in her final year of a Business Management degree at Coventry University, came up with five factors to help her make the right choice.
Here are Naomi’s thoughts on how to pick the best university:
1. The Course
Think about what you want from your course and career afterwards. If you have a solid idea, then you will be able to find the course that best fits that. But if you’re sure of the subject but not sure what area you want to work in then maybe go for something a bit more general that will allow you to specialise later.
I knew I wanted to go into business, but I didn’t know what area I wanted to specialise in. My degree has catered to that by offering a mix of modules varying from economics and statistics to globalisation and entrepreneurship.
2. Focus on Employability
Yes, university is an amazing experience but ultimately your aim is to start a career, hopefully in something you love. Look for a course that puts emphasis on employability, that will give you lots of advice about how to get work experience and how to improve your chances of getting a job.
Right from the start, my lecturers at Coventry University stressed the importance of getting work experience and said I would reap the rewards later. In my second year I got a placement in the automotive industry, and then a summer internship with a global investment bank. As a result, I have managed to secure a place on a competitive graduate scheme – something which I would never have imagined happening at the start of my course.
3. The Students’ Union
Check out the Students’ Union (SU), not just for socialising but for all the extra-curricular activities it can offer you. This can really make a difference to where you go, what you choose to study and how well you will settle into university life.
I used to be quite reserved and worried I wouldn’t fit into the huge social scene that I anticipated at university but I was so wrong. During my first year I threw myself in the deep end and got involved with the SU to develop my skillset and as a way of making new friends. That’s where my journey with the SU began. I’ve held just under ten roles varying from climbing up the course reps hierarchy to sitting on the board of trustees and it has been an amazing experience.
World class teaching will get you far but why not make sure you’ll be learning the subject you love in a setting that is world class too? When you choose your degree, check out the specific facilities for your course – are they modern and up-to-date, have they had lots of investment, are there things at a particular university you just wouldn’t get elsewhere that will enhance your learning experience?
The Business School at Coventry recently had a refurbishment and we’ve now got our own trading floor, which is the largest academic trading floor of it’s kind in Europe. What could top that?
5. Skills for Life
You need to pick a university that not only offers the course you want but that will allow you to work on your own personal development. Your course isn’t just about studying the subject you have chosen, it is about developing a whole new skillset. Even if you don’t end up working in the area you have studied you will have acquired a lot of transferable skills, such as working in groups, presentations, negotiation and public speaking.
Finally, as part of my degree I have a mandatory career development module. From this module alone I’ve learned to understand the benefits of professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn, the importance of networking and other things such as interview preparation techniques and corporate etiquette. All of these things are skills I can take with me beyond university because they are certainly skills for life.