Kate, who’s in her final year on the BA (Hons) Accounting & Business course, is bubbly and easy to talk to, although she reveals she wasn’t always so open and chatty. “I started off at this university being a shy, timid girl, but I made myself go for things I wouldn’t have gone for back in high school,” she explains. “Now, I’m more confident in myself. It’s helped me develop my skills, I’ve met lots of people, I’ve got a lot of new friends and I have a better idea of what I want to do in the future.”
This clarity over her career path is, in part, due to her work placement. Kate laughs as she tells us that she was only supposed to spend 11 months at her placement company, but ended up working there for a year and a half: “I must have liked something about it,” she says with a smile.
She spent her time working for Procurri, who are based in her hometown of Cirencester. “I worked in the finance team - I was accounts payable. So I paid people, got the angry phone calls about people wanting money,” she explains. She’s very enthusiastic about the experience she gained from working, commenting: “It gives you more understanding of the real world.”
Kate wouldn’t exactly say she fell in love with accounting, but does explain that she’s always been good with numbers, which is why she decided to see what accountancy could offer her as a career path. However, she was keen not to limit her prospects.
“The fact that I chose Accounting & Business just meant that I wasn’t purely focused on accounting and that I got a bit of business as well, so if I didn’t like accounting at the end of my course I could move on,” she enthuses.
One of the reasons why she chose BU was because the accounting pathways offered here gave her that flexibility. “I mainly liked that in the first year you do the same modules as everybody else who could be on your framework. After the first year, you can change if you want to, if you didn’t like something [about your course] or if you found a different area more interesting,” she says.
Kate also believes that the topics covered by her course in the first two years of her degree gave her an excellent foundation ahead of her work placement: “All the different modules meant I could go in with the knowledge I needed. Obviously I didn’t know everything, but there was someone who helped me and trained me for five weeks. I felt comfortable going into that kind of situation and I got the hang of it quite quickly.”
And now she’s using that valuable experience to help with her final year. “[After your placement] you can bring in real life examples that maybe you didn’t know in the first couple of years. That’s especially useful when it comes to exams in the final year - you have to bring in real life situations, you can’t just know the theory behind it, so in that sense it really did help,” she reveals.
Kate’s been very keen to try new things away from her course and to really challenge herself. When asked what her biggest achievement is, she doesn’t hesitate to say becoming a student ambassador - a job that you have to be interviewed for. However, she quickly points out that each year she has challenged herself to do something different. In her first year, she worked as a student rep; in her second year she became a Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) leader; and after her work placement it was the role of student ambassador that she was attracted to.
She’s also made an effort to meet people outside of her course, something she advises all new students to do. “I’ve met loads of different people and it’s nice to see what they do, where they’re going and to have conversations that maybe you wouldn’t have had if you’d just stuck to people from your own course,” she says with a smile.
Exploring Bournemouth and the surrounding area is another thing Kate urges any new students to do. One of her favourite places to visit is Marwell Zoo and when asked why, she breaks into a beaming grin: “I’m a photographer, so I like taking photos of animals. I try to go to as many zoos as possible but Marwell has snow leopards, which not many zoos in this country have, so having that half an hour down the road means I take a lot of photos,” she laughs.
Looking to the future, Kate is excited about her prospects, although she admits that she wants to have a break after graduating and go travelling for a while. She’s also keen to work overseas, to, as she puts it, “just see what’s out there”.