Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself? (briefly about what you are studying etc)
My name is Robert Mitson and I’m a final year Business Economics BSc student at Westminster Business School. I’m originally from the Essex countryside, and have just completed a placement year with Westminster Business School’s Marketing team.
Why did you decide to study at Westminster Business School?
I chose Westminster initially based on the course outline for Business Economics BSc; I wanted to study a degree that covered economic theory in the context of modern business, in the hope of developing skills that would make me an employable and well-rounded economist. I also hoped the course would help me develop a business of my own.
Why did you choose to study Business Economics BSc?
I chose Business Economics BSc as the course offered the opportunity to understand how modern business can be explained by, and utilise, the principles of economic theory. Furthermore, the course has an excellent reputation amongst the business community, and prepares students for a broad variety of career paths.
What are the main challenges of this course?
The main challenge of this course for me is the Statistics and Econometrics modules – these definitely require me to do the most reading and practice, as I’m not a natural statistician.
Can you please tell us about your placement year from planning to applying and to your experience?
My placement year came about somewhat organically; I had been doing some work for my course leader, Karen Kufuor, helping her to market the TRIBE project which Westminster Business School has created in collaboration with the Commercial Education Trust (CET). In completing this work, I had the opportunity to work with the Westminster Business School Marketing team, who made me aware of the placement year they offered. I applied, and following an interview I was accepted. So although I hadn’t planned on completing a placement year, I found myself accepted onto one! I’m thankful that this happened and I feel very blessed to have worked as a part of such a varied, dynamic and welcoming team – forging friendships and connections that I know will outlast my time at Westminster, and developing skills that will help me secure employment following my graduation.
Everyone is talking about employability skills what do you think is the best way to increase your employability skills during your academic studies?
Personally I have tried to grasp every opportunity that Westminster Business School has offered in terms of extra-curricular experience. At the beginning of my first year I joined Westminster Business Consultants (WBC) where I worked in Business Development, progressing to Senior Consultant, and was fortunate enough to join a network of junior entrepreneurs, including the JADE network which unites European Junior Entrepreneurs, with whom I attended the ‘Spring Meeting’ at the European Parliament in Brussels. In addition to this, I was also able to complete some freelance marketing work for my course leader, as I previously mentioned. Furthermore, I also worked as a Student Brand Manager for Chipotle Mexican Grill, the restaurant chain, who allowed me to organise complimentary socials for all Westminster sports teams and societies. Finally, completing a placement year at Westminster has been the single largest contribution to my professional development and potential employability. Another great way to enhance your employability, and demonstrate proactivity, is by becoming a course representative. This gives individuals the opportunity to represent their peers in course reviews, helping to improve the student experience at Westminster Business School.
Westminster has also helped shape my ideas on employability is through the idea of entrepreneurship. With a number of events hosted on campus, including the Chairman’s Debate on Entrepreneurship, I came to the realisation that a personal enterprise can be a solution to the need for employment following graduation. In recent months, I have been working on a unique concept that I developed, and in light of this I have founded my own business. Therefore, for me, increasing your employability whilst studying at Westminster relies on the willingness and proactivity of students; it is completely an individual experience and securing the opportunities that are made available during your time at Westminster can make all the difference, you just need to seek them out.
As a fellow student what would you recommend other students in the Westminster Business School?
My biggest recommendation would be to take a look around you; the people you’re sat next to in classes, the lecturers who teach you, those who you cross on the Learning Platform, or that you socialise with, are not only your friends but are also your network, and it follows that in business anyone is only as strong as their network. Joining organisations, societies or clubs within the University means that you only expand this, and networking events offer you the chance to meet with the business community and extend this even further. Westminster Business Consultants was a great introduction to this experience for me.
We all know that student life is hard work! How do you manage to balance your studies with all the extra-curricular activities?
Planning and time management are two skills that I’ve definitely had to learn since starting at Westminster Business School. I wouldn’t call myself an inherently organised person, but learning to juggle University, work and a social life have helped me acquire and develop skills in time management. I generally work best under pressure, however cramming is ineffective and generally doesn’t yield my best results, so I had to learn to find a happy medium between these two: something which I believe I’ve found now. Also just learning to prioritise, and review these priorities regularly.
What keeps you occupied outside of work and studies?
Outside of work and my studies I love to travel; I spent majority of my down time either travelling, or daydreaming about and planning travels. Recently I spent a month backpacking in South America, where I was fortunate enough to visit Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, including Salar de Uyuni, Machu Picchu and Iguassu Falls. I think that travel is the best way to broaden one’s perspective and gain a deeper knowledge of the world and oneself.
What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
The best advice I’ve received since being at Westminster came from my course leader during at the beginning of my first year: you get from University what you put in. This got me thinking what I wanted to get out of University, which in turn informed what I should put in. This set the trajectory of my time at Westminster, as I’ve grasped every extra opportunity the University has offered me, even if this has led to feeling overwhelmed at times.
What does the future hold for you after graduation? What are your plans?
Following graduation I hope to continue travelling. Beyond that I hope to continue developing my own business; I am currently in the process of patenting a new product – which is a unique backpack designed for solo travellers – working with a two friends to develop the idea, as well as going through the initial stages of founding and branding my own company. My plan is to launch this product, along with a whole product range of outdoor clothing and backpacking solutions, by the middle of 2016. Our hope is to secure investment within the next twelve months enabling us to work full-time on this new project by the end of 2016. Westminster has helped me grow my understanding of entrepreneurship and one lesson I have learned is that successful entrepreneurs need to be flexible as well as realistic, even if this means contemplating failure.
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