BSc Economics student Alexandre made the most of his summer by travelling, studying a new country and gaining work experience at the BBC! He tells us about it below.
Wondering what to do with your summer whilst in your second year can be quite stressful, but the more you think about it, the more you get excited about the millions of opportunities that are out there.
As an international student studying in the UK, the first thing I wanted to do was go back home and stay with my family and friends in Southern France where the sun shines more than in the UK. It is vital for some of those summer days to be completely empty and have nothing planned in order to clear your mind. But I did not want to make the same mistake I made in some previous years. So in addition from going to the usual music festivals and long days at the beach, I thought it would be great to wisely use my time and do two important things:
- Gain some professional experience
- Visit countries that are outside the usual western comfort zone.
In early June, I applied to the UKIERI Study India Programme, the next thing I knew I was off with 200 other students from all over the UK to a country, home to 1.2 billion people often considered as the cradle of humanity.
My first stop was the vibrant city of New Delhi where you can literally feel and see high economic growth. Seeing how the west influences this huge society but also the massive cultural contrast with Europe was a fantastic way to discover a country that western media often portrays in an incorrect and often negative manner. I got talks on the Indian economy, politics, culture, society and most importantly philosophy and had the opportunity to visit the monumental Taj Majal.
It was certainly first-hand knowledge that you cannot read in books at home. We then took an 18 hour train off to the city of Mumbai, India’s largest city with its art deco and Portuguese architecture, where we got to visit one of the biggest and certainly most interesting slums in the world, Dharavi. A 5am city bike tour and a one day visit to a rural village were also some of the highlights which form memories for life. And the best part is that the programme was fully paid for except for flights. I would highly encourage applying to this sort of programme as every single participant left with a more open-minded spirit, exceptional knowledge and the experience of a lifetime.
The reality is that one’s summer is not necessarily expensive if you search well. After India, I landed in the UK where I started my work experience at the BBC media action which is the BBC’s international charity. Their aim is to use the power of media and communication to help reduce poverty and support people in understanding their rights.
I worked in the Finance department and had the opportunity to see how their accounts are structured and how they communicate with their offices throughout the world. The most interesting aspect was meeting people from different departments and finding out what they were doing on a daily basis. This included getting an insight on how on the field research works when setting up projects in developing countries, how they are able to gather a £40 million budget or how media can do its share when it comes to a Humanitarian crisis such as Ebola.
Any type of experience is great as it shows what you want to potentially do as a career but it also shows what you do not want to do and it is never too early to build your CV.
The Careers Network (CN) is probably one of the highlights that this university has to offer as they point out some outstanding opportunities. Opportunities are there, should it be on the CN, with friends, family or on social networks, you just have to take them.