Tell us a bit about yourself, and what course you are studying?
My name is Chloe and I recently graduated in 2021 with an undergraduate degree in BSc Accounting & Finance. I am a Malaysian who was previously studying in Singapore before coming to university. Coming to the UK at 19 years old, my university experience was a whole list of ‘firsts’ for me – living separately from my parents, interacting with groups of people outside of my usual social circle, traveling with friends and managing my own finance. It was precisely for this reason of stepping out of my comfort zone that I had wanted to study overseas, instead of back in my home country. So even though being an international student can be a little more intimidating and challenging than being a home student, it has made my experience all the more enriching and colourful, and I am glad that I made the decision I did.
What attracted you to WBS? Why did you choose to study here?There are quite a few reasons why I chose to study at WBS. Firstly, of course, because WBS courses are ranked very highly in both world rankings as well as UK rankings. When making my choice for university, I spent quite a bit of time on ranking sites such as QS rankings and the Guardian rankings, comparing the courses between different universities. I noticed that for Accounting and Finance, WBS consistently ranked amongst the top. So I was reassured that the degree I would obtain from WBS would be recognised internationally and held in high regards.
Secondly, I was also very impressed by the staff at WBS when I met them at an engagement event held by the CareersPlus team. From their presentation at the event, I could see that large amounts of support would be constantly provided to WBS students, ranging from CV checking to mock interviews and 1-on-1 personalised career advice sessions. There would also be lots of opportunities to network with employers and explore different industries. From the range of support available and from the staff’s passionate presentation, I could tell that WBS staff really cared for their students and wanted to see them succeed.
Thirdly, the University of Warwick had something that I was looking for – a campus. I didn’t want to study in a university that had its buildings integrated with other commercial buildings in the city. I wanted an actual university campus which had classes, shops, food and accommodation all centralised in one area. The reason I wanted a campus was because I felt that universities with campuses usually had a more ‘community feel’ to it, and it would be easier to meet other university students this way. Warwick has just that, and as an added bonus, its campus is really beautiful with lots of green areas and natural bodies of water.
What was the best thing about your degree?
One of the best things about my degree was the diverse group of people I met – be it through group work, classes or other avenues. Although some people might say it isn’t easy to work with a group of diverse people as it comes with its own challenges, I can honestly say that it was a very fulfilling experience. It was very interesting to be exposed to different learning styles, different approaches to work and different perspectives. I learnt a lot from working with my peers and was able to reflect on my own learning and working style. Though I had my share of struggles with teamwork, ultimately, it was very enriching as it teaches you how to manage team dynamics and navigate through challenges together as a group.
I also appreciated how I got to interact with people from other walks of life; it wasn’t just interacting with students purely. There were professors who were writing their own books, lecturers who were in the midst of getting their journal articles published, WBS operational staff, seminar tutors pursuing a PhD and guest speakers who were working in industry. Being able to interact with and speak to such a huge range of people not only developed my communication skills, but also enabled me to glean many insights from the type of work that these individuals were engaged in. It showed me that this field of ‘education’ extended far beyond just the tutors and students in a traditional classroom setting.
How did you find having a personal tutor, have they helped you throughout your studies?
I was reassured that throughout my three years at university, there would be one member of staff looking out for me. Even though going to university is the first step to gaining independence and being responsible for yourself, it is understandably daunting to only have yourself to rely on. So having a personal tutor whom I could go to if I had any issues was reassuring as it meant I still had some sort of ‘safety net’. I spoke to my personal tutor regularly over the three years, contacting her about once a term to update her on what I had been doing over the past few weeks and to let her know how studies were going. The regular meetings helped serve as a good checkpoint for myself, as it encouraged me to reflect on my progress thus far – to see whether I was doing enough or if I needed to catch up on anything.
I also went to my personal tutor for advice and consultation when I needed to. For example, when choosing modules to take for my second year, I consulted my personal tutor about what would be the best approach to adopt when choosing modules. Though I know she couldn’t give me insight into each of the specific modules, I wanted some guidance on what she thought I should prioritise when choosing modules, e.g. interest, assessment format, timing of modules etc. When I had issues with accommodation in my third year, I also consulted my personal tutor on how I should deal with the situation and what were the best steps to take. As an international student, I especially appreciated having a personal tutor there to guide and advise me, as most of my support network aren’t within the country which made it just a little bit harder to go to them for help.
What has inspired you most throughout your studies?
One of the things that has inspired me the most throughout my studies was the passion that WBS lecturers and staff have for the work they are doing. I am in awe at the depth of passion that some lecturers have for their subject area. When teaching certain topics in class, I could tell that they genuinely loved their subject area and had a great interest in what they were teaching. They would try their best to impart their love of the subject to us through whatever means possible, which I thought that was very admirable (even when I didn’t hold the same level of interest as they did). They inspired me because I hoped that in the future, in whatever career or industry I ended up in, I could be as equally motivated and invested as they were. Their strong conviction, commitment and drive in their own subject is something that I will strive for myself.
Even WBS staff who didn’t teach, but who ensured the smooth running of WBS, were equally as passionate in their role. The student experience team were always proactively approaching students for feedback and constantly seeking ways to improve the experience that every student had on their course. Even with the mountain of workload they must have had, the team was always very eager and willing to hear from students. They always had a smile on their faces and were very approachable. From my interaction with them, I could tell that they truly enjoyed and loved their job. The same goes for other teams such as the IT team or the marketing team. In sum, I was really inspired by the working attitude that pervaded the staff at WBS.
What sort of support have you received from the careers team? How has that helped you?
The CareersPlus team has given me an immense amount of support over my three years at WBS. In my first year, I made use of the printed resources they had which gave a general overview of the different industries/careers that most business school graduates went into. I wanted to explore the different career paths that were available to me, and also wanted to narrow down my own interest. These booklets were placed in the Undergraduate Learning Space, an open space for all WBS undergraduates, but they are also available as e-resources online. I found these resources to be very helpful, especially because I had very little idea of what I wanted to do after graduating from university. The materials are organised in a very user-friendly manner, and they are extremely comprehensive, explaining almost everything from scratch.
I also attended various events organised by the CareersPlus team. One example of which are the employer presentations where companies would send representatives to Warwick to give a short presentation followed by a networking session, or a Q&A session. I also attended other events by the CareersPlus team such as seminars on how to network, or how to build your CV, and mock interviews and mock assessment centres. These seminars and employer engagement events helped prepare me for job applications and also boosted my employability.
The CareersPlus team also subscribes to various platforms or portals which allow us to practise psychometric assessments that normally form the first stage of a job application process. I also frequently made use of V-mock, a platform that automatically assesses your CV and recommends possible improvements.
Have you taken part in any projects, internships, or work experience so far while being a student at WBS?
While at WBS, I undertook a spring week in my 1st year and had an internship in the summer of my 2nd year. My spring week was a short 2 day 1 night programme with the company Deloitte. It introduced me to the tax consulting service line within Deloitte and gave me the opportunity to find out speak to employees within tax consultancy. This eventually fast-tracked me to an internship opportunity with Deloitte. My internship was, however, in a different service line – audit. The internship with Deloitte, unfortunately, did not go ahead as planned due to COVID, but I managed to secure another audit internship with a local Singaporean accounting firm which (I would guess) gave me an experience similar to what I would have had with Deloitte.
As audit modules were only available to me in my third year, going into my audit internship, I didn’t have much prior knowledge specific to audit from my modules which I could apply. Of course, my modules had provided me with basic accounting knowledge such as how to interpret financial information, which probably did make a difference during my internship.
For me, rather than my modules helping me in my internship, it was more of the other way round – my internship helped me in my modules. Upon completing my audit internship, I entered into my third year and took up an audit module. I found that much of what I had learnt throughout my three-month internship was very much related to what I was learning in the module. The module had overlaps with my practical work experience, but it also provided a deeper layer of insight into the work that I had done: why certain procedures were designed the way they were, the importance of an audit, the wider problems within the industry… Taking up an internship helped me realise just how relevant WBS modules were and how reflective they were of real life.
Are you a member of any SU clubs or societies? What benefits did you get from that?
I was a member of the Malaysian Students Association (MSA) in Warwick. I joined this cultural society as I was looking to find a group of friends who had a similar culture and background to myself. I found much comfort and belonging in MSA as it was a home away from home. MSA also provided a platform that allowed me to concentrate on something other than academics. Every year, MSA will put on an annual theatre production, and I signed up to be part of this production. Through MSA, I forged friendships and connections that will last beyond university, and it was also through MSA that I found the housemates that I stayed off-campus with in my second and third year. Taking part in a theatre production also injected some variety in my life, as it gave me a break from the constant studying and saved me from what would have otherwise been a purely academic life.
What do you aim to do once you graduate?
At the moment, I am aiming to complete an accounting professional qualification, the ACA apprentice scheme offered by ICAEW. The scheme requires me to work while studying for some exam papers which cover subjects such as Law, Accounting, Assurance and Business Strategy. The reason why I wanted to obtain a professional qualification is because this would allow me to continue acquiring knowledge, whilst also applying this knowledge on the job. This integration of theoretical knowledge and practical experience really appealed to me. Moreover, obtaining a qualification would open up further opportunities and doors for me down the road.
Do you feel that your degree is preparing you for your next steps?
Yes, I think that the knowledge acquired through the various modules that I took in WBS have certainly equipped me with technical knowledge and skills that would otherwise have been very hard to obtain. But beyond that, I think my most valuable takeaway from modules was when the module prompted me to explore and investigate further into issues that currently surround the subject area or the industry. I found that some of the better modules took a step back and provided a wider view of the recent discussions and debates relevant to the subject or industry. We were also encouraged to develop our own opinions and perspectives on these issues, so that in the future, when we stepped out into the working world, we could contribute our own set of opinions. Modules that integrated current topics into the curriculum ensured that the knowledge and insights we were gaining through our degree would still be relevant once we stepped out into the working world.
I think my degree was also instrumental in helping me decide which career/industry I wanted to go into upon graduating. Most WBS students have the option to choose elective modules from different subject areas such as Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, Behavioural Sciences etc. How much I enjoyed taking modules from each subject area gave me an indication of which industry or type of role I would prefer to be in upon graduation. To put it simply, my degree provided me with a safe space to explore different subject areas and allowed me to pinpoint more accurately where my interest lay.
What top tip would you give to prospective undergraduate students who are deciding if WBS is the right place for them?
I think when deciding which university is right for you, you need to ask yourself a simple question: what is it that you are hoping to get out of your degree? If you are just looking to obtain a piece of paper that would get you a job amongst the crème de la crème, then it would be a simple matter of selecting the very top ranked university. However, if you are also equally interested in the experience of university rather than just the result of university, I think WBS provides an excellent balance of the two. WBS offers you the opportunity to develop yourself both as an individual and as a professional. You are encouraged to explore areas simply out of interest and for leisure purposes - there are avenues through which you can discover who you are as a person and many avenues for you to explore new things. But at the same time, you are also afforded opportunities which develop your employability. It was this promise of graduating with experience alongside with a highly recognised degree cert that convinced me that WBS was the right place for me.
What top tip would you give to a student who is about to start at WBS?
The one tip I have for students about to embark on their journey at WBS is to make the most of every single opportunity. It might be tempting to shy away from opportunities because they are something new which you’ve never experienced before, but in my opinion, this is precisely what you have come to university for. You should seize the opportunity, even if you are hesitant and unsure about it in the current moment. I would also urge you to actively create opportunities for yourself – sometimes it’s not sufficient to just take a passive approach and wait for opportunities to present themselves to you. I truly believe that opportunities can be created by ourselves, as long as we have the drive and desire to look for them. Even the smallest of things, such as being the first one to get the ball rolling during group discussions, can be an opportunity that serves as a springboard for other opportunities. So go to university with an open mind, ready to embrace any opportunity that comes your way.