Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and the course you are studying.
My name is Alara Ozcam and I am from Turkey. I studied Hospitality and Business Management in Switzerland for my undergraduate degree, during which I also completed several internship programmes. I had the opportunity to gain international experience in areas such as hospitality, sales, events, and public relations at both Ritz-Carlton in Portugal, and Radisson RED in Brussels. After graduation, I wanted to broaden my horizons so I became an Associate SAP Consultant after being selected following a three month training programme. As part of this role I travelled to many countries and lived in India for a few months while working for a Marketing and Public Relations company and volunteering as a teacher in an NGO. After I realised my passion for marketing, I decided to apply for an MSc programme to enrich my knowledge.
What first attracted you to WBS>
WBS is a school of great prestige with an amazing reputation in terms of education quality. However, what first attracted me to WBS was the positive word of mouth. Quite a few of my colleagues from all around the world pursued their postgraduate education at the University of Warwick. When I was looking for potential places to study my MSc many people were advocates of the Business School, emphasizing the opportunities the School provides to international students in terms of professional connections, social activities and careers advice.
What would you say are the key things that set WBS apart?
First of all, the careers offering is genuinely excellent. The University has a central careers centre for all University of Warwick students, and at WBS there is a careers team exclusively for WBS students. The dedicated CareersPlus team provide professional advice about a variety of things like CV preparation, internships, and job opportunities, whilst also organising workshops to work on employability skills.
Moreover, WBS provides a very supportive environment for anything a student might need, personal or professional, with each student being allocated a personal tutor who is available to them throughout the year. There are also a huge variety of clubs and societies across campus, allowing you to grow your network and try new things. In addition to this, professionals from industry-leading companies visit the campus and interact with students to share their own experience which is really insightful.
What is the best thing about your course so far?
I really enjoy studying in a multicultural environment where I have made personal and professional connections from all around the world. This has allowed me to broaden my professional network and has given me a chance to learn about how things are done in other parts of the world. Additionally, WBS organises many careers events where highly reputable companies visit the campus to give information and support to students. Some social groups like the Marketing Insight Series (MiS) organise weekly events with representatives from companies that any marketer would dream of working for. It is awesome to get a chance to not only engage with representatives from these companies but also to have them the opportunity to ask them personalised questions dependant on your future career ambitions.
What is your favourite module? What do you cover on this module?
My favourite module so far has been the ‘Critical Issues in Marketing’ module covered during my initial term. The module is based on understanding more about the critical decisions in marketing that are essential for all marketers and learning more about the techniques, systems and mindset of marketing professionals.
Some of the other topics I have enjoyed learning more about were consumer behaviour and human choice, innovation in marketing, and creating the customer experience. The lectures were structured slightly differently whereby we spent time on learning about the theory of marketing whilst also participating in interactive seminar sessions. The time we spent in interactive seminars were the highlight of my experience as each week we dug into different marketing issues by examining real-life scenarios of a wide range of companies and discussed our findings. The free space to talk about any idea, with no limits and no ‘right’ answer, truly established a critical environment and an exchange of valuable ideas.
What sort of support have you received so far from the CareersPlus team?
WBS has a very active careers team and as a student at WBS you have access to an abundance of resources thanks to them. The CareersPlus team are there to help you prepare essential documents like your CV but they also help with developing your interview skills. It is more of a mentorship relationship than anything else. I actively use career coaching to organise my academic schedule, get advice on applications and my dissertation programme. There are also many skills workshops available with assessment centres, designed to be a perfect match of an actual recruitment experience. The practicality and the realistic approach taken during these events is a great preparation for the real thing.
Are you a member of any sports clubs or societies? How has being a member of a society or club benefited you?
WBS has infinite opportunities to try out all the things you've been postponing for years! When I first arrived on campus, I was so amazed by the selection of all the societies that I tried almost everything from Jiu-jitsu to consultancy! There are over 250 societies on campus so if you've always wanted to try something out on your bucket list the chances are you'll find it here. I gained lots of valuable friends and got to experience many new things. Currently, I am a part of the salsa society, ENACTUS, the consulting society and MiS.
What else do you enjoy doing outside of your degree?
I really enjoy my daily walks on campus, especially around Lakeside which has lots of amazing wildlife. Other than savouring the nature around campus, I spend lots of time in the school pub Dirty Duck - which has a classic Irish pub feel to it. I also enjoy the Terrace bar and the PG quiz nights. The cinema on campus and the popular food market held at the Piazza are amongst the other things I enjoy.
What do you aim to do once you graduate?
One of the best things about my course is that it combines marketing and strategy which is pretty unique and opens up two major subdivisions for when I graduate. But in reality, my course offers so much more than that. The opportunities available to students at WBS are so diverse, there are many sectors we have the possibility to enter and many types of firms, industries and cultures we can aim to work for. Personally, my interests lie within marketing. My initial aim is to gain more practical experience within a firm whose vision and purpose are coherent to my own, and then I'd like to establish my marketing firm one day!
What are your tips for getting the most out of an MSc for those starting in September?
Moving somewhere new can always be tough but just remember everyone is experiencing the same thing. For me, the transition period was a lot smoother than I thought it would be as I engaged in many different activities happening around campus, and trust me there are many! Certainly, you are coming here to get a master's degree and that should be your main priority, but don't see your university experience as just that. Warwick can be a wonderful place to discover new things about yourself, find new hobbies, try new things and interact with people from all around the world. Make sure to have fun and make your experience count. I would also recommend finding a like-minded group of friends to form a study group with. When working on projects and preparing for exams we all need the solidarity to exchange ideas, which is what postgraduate level education is all about.
What top tips would you give to prospective MSc students who are deciding if WBS is the right place for them?
Before I applied to WBS I had already done my research about things like the structure of my programme, accommodation and societies available at Warwick. However, it wasn't until I was speaking to actual students about their university experience that I became more assured that WBS was the place for me. Choosing your postgraduate degree programme is an important decision, and hearing about the genuine and practical experience of someone who is in your shoes really helps. So I would say first of all do your research and know your facts. WBS is very active in contacting potential students through email and offering to set up interviews, chats or calls with current students so make sure you take full advantage of every opportunity!