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Nina’s story: Internships, placements and future plans.

Meet Nina, a business and events student from the University of Northampton who has big plans for her future. Although she officially doesn’t graduate until later this month, she is already working as a marketing intern at the University of Northampton International College (UNIC) and has a long-term goal of setting up her own business and establishing herself as a freelance marketer.

As an intern on the Marketing and Admissions team at UNIC, Nina’s role includes updating the social media, making marketing collateral, updating the website and sending newsletters and updates to their global recruitment teams. UNIC is an associate college of the University, offering Foundation, First-Year and Pre-Master’s degrees to international students who don’t meet the entry criteria to enter UON directly. As an international student herself, who joined the university from Romania, Nina not only knows what information is vital to provide international students with but she gets how they might be feeling on an emotional level about being in a completely new country. Her empathy for the UNIC students position, combined with her passion and enthusiasm for marketing make her the perfect candidate for the role.

At the University of Northampton, Nina studied a joint honours degree in Business Entrepreneurship and Events Management. Joint honours allow students to pick two subjects that interest them and study modules in each to make up the credits of their degree. It also then gives students the opportunity to do a placement year, something Nina herself took advantage of.

She said: “My placement year offered me real business experience. This, combined with part-time work commitments has been challenging but a valuable learning curve and helped me to enhance my organisational skills. It was also been very helpful in allowing me to gain a good understanding of everything that comes with a full-time job and the level of commitment required.”

Nina speaks very highly of the academic support she received at UON. One of her favourite things about her course was being introduced to ‘live’ case studies as part of the teaching curriculum, so she could bring her learning to life using real business examples.

When asked for an example, Nina explained: “We were given the opportunity to revise the Waterside restaurant’s business and marketing strategy to see if we could improve its on-campus appeal. As part of the project we completed market research to improve and came up with ways to increase the awareness and appeal of their brand to students. It was well received, they actually took our guidance on board and we won a free meal as a thank you.”

The UK university experience is also about much more than just getting a degree. There is a social side to the experience that helps you to settle in and grow as a person.  The University of Northampton is one of only two universities in the whole of the country that offer free clubs and societies to all students. And if there isn’t a club or society you like then you can create one yourself. That is exactly what Nina did.

She said: “I founded the Romanian Society in October 2015 and was the President for two years. Within its first year of activity the society was awarded “Best New Society 2016”. In its second year it was awarded a further three awards by the Students’ Union including the “Outstanding Contribution” award. I loved being able to start something from scratch and how I was able to support and meet so many different students. It was a lot of hard work, but it was so rewarding. We received excellent feedback and it was very satisfying to enhance the international student experience by providing a ‘safe space’ to socialise and explore the UK.”

Before we sign off this post we leave you with Nina’s advice to other students looking to start a degree at the University of Northampton:

  1. Seek support – don’t be afraid to ask for help because it is available.
  2. Believe in yourself have confidence in yourself – speak your mind.
  3. Don’t rely on other people to improve things you think need changing – take the first step.
  4. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  5. Visualise yourself and your goals – if you are motivated, the University will help you to achieve your goals.

If you prefer to watch Nina’s testimonial please click on the link here.

Students shortlisted for Footwear Student of the Year Award

Two international footwear designers from the University of Northampton are in the running for a prestigious national award. Footwear & Accessories undergraduates Faizal Mohammed and Anna Melegh have made the shortlist for the Cordwainer Footwear Student of the Year title.

The awards were set up in 2014 by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers  to celebrate the best upcoming shoe designers in the UK.

Faizal, has been shortlisted for his futuristic sneakers concept.

The second year undergraduate from Chennai, India, has printed a fingerprint design on the footwear, plus wires on the soles.

He said: “My idea is about the footwear of the future. I’ve imagined a world where people will be able to use their fingerprints to ‘unlock’ their shoes via an app, which will then unlace them automatically. The wires in the soles are for future technologies which could inflate and adjust the inside of the sneakers to make them the perfect, personalised pair.

“I was influenced by the futuristic use of technology and how tracking can suppress society. I watched the Black Mirror TV series which had quite a similar concept of what the future could be.”

Faizal added: “I am so excited about my nomination. I am so grateful to my tutors for helping me to develop my skills. This is small opportunity that could lead to major career opportunities in the future.”

Faizal with is design.

Fellow second year student, Anna, has produced a pair of Budapester-style brogues inspired by her home city of Budapest.

They feature her hand-drawn collage of windows from historic buildings in the Hungarian capital dating from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Anna made the leather herself, which she then spray painted and engraved with her own hand-drawn motifs.

Anna said: “It feels good to have been nominated. It’s such a great opportunity for me and great recognition for my work.”

Anna holding her shortlisted design.

The Cordwainer Footwear Student of the Year awards take place in London on Thursday 6 June.

Nursing as an international student

To celebrate International Nurses Day (12 May) we caught up with current international student, Glister, who is studying the BSc (hons) Mental Health Nursing at UON and is currently in her second year. We asked her why she chose to study nursing in the UK and what it is like experiencing the profession from an international background.

Glister at the University of Northampton Waterside Campus

“l chose to study Mental Health Nursing because it is a part of nursing that I am very passionate about. Mental health is something that is much more widely understood than it has been in the past and people are starting to understand just how important it is. On a personal level, I lost someone very close to me due to a mental health illness and so I wanted to make it my life goal to ensure others do not have to experience this too. I am driven by a need to bring change to others who might be going through the same situation.

When you study a subject such as Nursing in a new country everything seems new. You have unfamiliar polices, and procedures and acts to follow that are different to the policies you might be used to in your home country. Luckily, to deal with this change the University of Northampton supports us both academically and offers counselling services too if we need to use them. This makes me feel reassured that if I am ever feeling concerned or worried I have somewhere I can go to receive the support I need.

I wasn’t too familiar with the NHS when I came to the UK as this is not something we have in Africa. I had heard of it but I have to be honest I wasn’t sure what it would be like. I have been so inspired by it as a healthcare system and have loved being able to take placements under its name. It is not the same in other countries and even though the British can sometimes be quite negative about the NHS, I so far have seen a lot of the good in the system and feel very proud to learn its values and practice under its name.

Nursing as a job does differ a lot compared to my home country. For example, looking at the capacity in my country, we do not let patients choose the care they need, we do what we think is best. In contrast, nurses in the UK seem to be able to provide much more flexibility in treatments and put the patient at the centre of everything, making them more involved in decisions. That is something we should not take for granted.

I love being a nurse because I feel highly respected in the community and in a new country. It gives me a sense of purpose and also a sense of belonging here. I have a duty of care when on placements and working with patients but I love that responsibility and the belief I am making a positive difference to people’s lives.

For me, I will always feel amazing knowing that I am accountable and responsible for someone else’s care. It reassures me I have chosen the right career path and will take that passion with me throughout my working life. Whether I choose to stay and work in the UK or take up nursing back in my home country, the patients will always come first and that will never change.”

The University of Northampton teaches a number of Nursing pathways. To find out more please click here.

“My experience, advice and tips for securing a placement”

By Shivika Gupta, Jamshedpur, India, MBA.

Team Leader, Student Services at South Essex College.

I looked at many jobs during my placement search as finding a one-year fixed term contract as per the MBA handbook can be challenging. A lot of posts want permanent members of staff and so you have to be prepared to look at many options and try different routes. I was actually offered a job at global company, Barclaycard, as they have their head offices in Northampton but I could not accept it as the contract was a permanent one. The turning point for me was when one of my professors suggested to look out for jobs which are vacant on account of maternity cover as they tend to be for a fixed period of 1 year to 6 months and to be honest that suggestion saved me!

I have always valued academia. I worked as a part-time Graduate Tutor at the University of Northampton in the Marketing and Entrepreneurship faculty during the academic part of my Master’s. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the education sector and so finding a job advertised at a College really excited me. The job I found was for a Team Leader for Student Services at South Essex College. I knew I had some transferable skills from my role as Graduate Tutor so I did not hesitate to apply. One thing led to another and I ended up with an interview in front of a panel of 3 senior leadership team members of the College.

The interview lasted for around 1 hour and 30 minutes. It was quite a grilling session. 30 minutes of it was for a written test where I had to plan a made-up event for a given theme. I had to plan out the most favourable time for the event to take place to get maximum student attendance. I think the trick to remember if you have to face something similar is there was no perfect answer, they are looking for your ideas and how you approach the challenge. At one point I started trembling and thinking I need to get it perfect but the rational side of me took over and I just did the best I could. I had well prepared myself by familiarising myself with the mission and vision of the college beforehand and that ensured me that I had at least two sensible questions to ask at the end of the interview.

The interview was a success and I was offered the job! I started the job in September 2018 and 6 months in I am loving the experience so far.

In my role as Team Leader for Student Services, my main duty is to Line manage 10 members of staff including 8 Students’ Union staff members, an Enrichment Associate and a Sports Associate across all 6 Campuses. Daily tasks also include leading on the planning of events/activities, supporting the Enrichment Team to improve engagement with other departments at the College and producing reports and feedback for the Senior Leadership Team.

The thing I enjoy the most is the professional culture, meeting people from diverse backgrounds and the opportunity to understand different behaviours that will be relevant with my dream of becoming a lecturer later in my career.

Just doing a Master’s and then immediately jumping in the real world can be tricky at times and that is why I believe the opportunity to do a work placement as part of your studies is so valuable. This placement has helped me to test the waters before applying for full-time roles. I am able to apply the modules I had taken on the MBA course previously and this has helped them to make more sense. I have been able to put what we have learnt in a real-world scenario and that has really helped my overall understanding.

My proudest achievement on the placement so far has been being trusted to manage 8-10 staff and leading the events happening across the college campuses. I have learnt that punctuality is key and not just networking with people but building good relationships with colleagues. I find that my culture can be quite direct but being too direct working in the UK is not often welcomed so that has been a learning curve. To prepare for any new opportunity and job in the future, I will be able to revisit all the experiences of this placement year which can be used to give examples during any interviews in the near future and hopefully help me to secure full-time jobs.

As part of the MBA we must keep a reflective journal. This comprises of the key skills developed during this role, important targets met and difficult situations where my approach was weak and how I overcame it.

My advice to other MBA students hoping to be successful in getting a placement would be these four things:

  • Start looking and applying for opportunities within 2 months of your arrival to the UK and prepare a little before flying to UK such as refreshing your LinkedIn profile. The more you can do at an earlier stage the better!
  • Make use of the Changemaker Hub to transform your CV and cover letter. (Very important). It really helped me and they gave me confidence.
  • Make sure you do part-time jobs which will be relevant for your placement year as it will help you answer lots of questions during your interview and standout on the application.
  • Do not only see it as a job, see it as a new learning experience and be honest with the yourself to commit to the work however challenging.

We asked Shivika’s Line Manager, Tracy Espinosa, for an update on Shivika’s progress and she sent us this report:

“Shivika is making excellent progress at the College, she has taken on a very demanding role, ran a successful Student Union campaign and coordinated College Course representatives.  Shivika has been involved in a number of College Enrichment Events and took the lead in the planning of events and activities for International Women’s Day which was very successful.  Shivika’s strong work ethic and organisation and planning skills have contributed to her success here at the College. ”   

If you, like Shivika, are studying the MBA and interested in sharing your experience and tips please contact

From Northampton to San Diego – “Becoming a Changemaker”

Hi Everyone,

My name is Ashley Dunkley. I am an international student – all the way from Canada, studying Law at the University of Northampton.

To be honest, prior to my attendance, I wasn’t aware of the Changemaker Hub. However, since my arrival the Changemaker Hub has been vital to my studies and extra-curricular activities.

Before I decided to make the move and skip across the pond to the UK, I was/am working as a Licensed Paralegal for an Ottawa law firm – McNally Gervan Lawyers. Whilst in my position I developed a strong passion for helping others and doing more than the ‘average’ requirements of a Licensed Paralegal. I had every intention on starting a charity venture, but just never got around to it – too many excuses, I guess. That is until Bruce Paterson of the Changemaker Hub attended one of my first classes and explained what the Changemaker can do to help. I remember him sharing a story about a past student who started a charity and instantly thought ‘that could be me’. I believe it was that following week that I met up with Bruce and things took off from there.

I spoke to Bruce about my aspirations to start a charity for victims of negligent acts and more or less said that I didn’t want to waste any time in getting it done (can you tell I am not British)! Before I knew it, my idea came to fruition and my charity became an official organization in Canada. As a result of this, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to attend the AshokaU Conference in San Diego last month – to learn more about social change and community involvement. Let me tell you, that definitely was an eye-opening experience. Within 5 minutes of the conference starting I soon learnt that I was very narrow minded indeed with what my definition of what social impact and social change meant.

Given my willingness to see change happen as quickly as possible, I decided to team up with a national wide charity (Barts Charity) to help The Royal London Hospital – Trauma Unit. I am now the host of a large fundraising evening in London. All proceeds raised go directly to the trauma unit. Again, the support that I have received through the Changemaker Hub and University have been tremendous, and without it the event would not be what it is planned to be.

Needless to say, if you want to make a social impact on a community, it all starts with people who are willing to help you succeed and the Changemaker Hub and the University of Northampton can do just that.

I encourage you to get involved, go and see the Changemaker Hub and come up with your own definition of social change. It can be anything you want it to be. The world is what you make it, as great as you want it to be, you can achieve anything you want to achieve; but, it all starts with you making that first move for change.

As cliché as it is, you can do anything you want to as long as you set your mind to it. Oh, and a piece of advice, don’t take no for an answer, things move a lot quicker that way. Nothing in life comes to you, you must go to it.

Good luck to my fellow future philanthropists. Remember if at first you don’t succeed, get right back up and try it again. For you can only grow from the failures you are lucky enough to experience.


“The positives of studying in an English town”

Cassandra Hee, Malaysia

Cassandra in the Cultural Quarter, Northampton Town Centre.

My name is Cassandra and I am orginally from Malaysia and studying my undergraduate degree at the University of Northampton.

Some people might feel the university life cycle is repetitive, especially studying in a small town, such as Northampton. Towns have their own advantages too though, and that has really helped me to feel at home here in the UK. Of course, when you think of England, the big cities such as London, Manchester, Nottingham etc. might appear in your mind first but my points below illustrate why you might want to make the University of Northampton your first choice for your UK studies. 

Enjoy low living costs

Compared to big cities, accommodation and living costs in towns tend to be cheaper. For instance, you are able to get student accommodation for around £100 a week including all the bills. Additionally, the food is cheaper than the big cities, including eating out. From the money you save here, you can use the pennies you save to cover costs to travel and social activities. There are lots of interesting destinations to explore in the UK or around Europe and it is convenient and cheap if you buy tickets in advance. During Easter, Christmas or summer holidays, I advise always trying to plan some countries to travel with your friends or familyYou might never get this opportunity again!

Receive more personal attention 

The university of Northampton is not the biggest UK University but this is a huge advantage for your learning. They are focused on smaller class sizes and more personal attention. For example, inside my leather technology class, there are only more or less 30 students inside the classroom. The lectures are therefore able to pay more attention on the students and give more one on one support.

Less Distraction

If you hope to make your studies more effective, I would recommend a town like Northampton as the students can be more focused on their studies. Although Northampton has its own night life, shopping malls and tourist attractions, it is easy to get to bigger towns by train, such as Milton Keynes, or Birmingham should you need to. In Northampton town centre, there is a theatre named Royal & Derngate, which students are able to enjoy – it hosts many shows, musicals and comedy performances so if you are into performing arts there is no need to travel too far.

New facilities

The University has a brand new campus, Waterside. The facilities inside the campus are very focused on high-technology. There are lots of cafes and restaurants inside the campus, including a very relaxing area and rooftop bar in the learning hub. The Learning hub is my favourite building as the library is open 24 hours and the environment is very peaceful.

Varied Accommodation options

For accommodation, only first year students can stay inside the halls. Therefore, most second or third year students, choose to stay in private accommodation with friends. Again, as Northampton is a town there is lots of choice near the new campus which is not too expensive. Students can do grocery shopping at Morrison’s, which is just 5 mins away from the campus. If you face some problems on accommodation, you are able to contact the International Student Support team, They can help you with any problem you may face and this is very reassuring as an international student.

My university life in Northampton so far has been interesting and amazing. Remember, it all depends on how you think about the town, the University and the environment you choose. If you want a quieter experience but still lots to do and see with easy access to big cities, Northampton could be for you too!

“6 things I wish I knew before becoming a student in Northampton”

By Mila Hristova, Bulgaria, BA (Hons) International Relations and Politics

Mila visiting London – just one hour on the train from Northampton!

1. Don’t pack too much

I have seen this many a time when it comes to new students who are leaving to study abroad. They are used to the comforts of their home and find it hard to let go of their belongings. But trust me, you DON’T need the huge stuffed bear that stays on your bed or those beautiful stones you found on the beach. There is no need for packing 4 suitcases or have your parents join you to help carry your stuff just so you have 15 pairs of shoes. Be as minimalistic as possible and remember that you will most certainly live in a very small room and it is important you don’t feel swamped with unnecessary items. Plus you can buy anything you forget or need here in Northampton!

2. Choose University accommodation for your First year

It is hard enough to start living on your own but to move to a new country and to change basically everything in your daily life is even more of a personal challenge. You do not need the added stress of searching for a private house with complete strangers. Of course, in the University accommodation you will be living with strangers, however, you know for sure they are also students studying at the University and you will feel safe because of the security and residential life team available 24/7 making sure that your residence is as peaceful and safe as possible. Hopefully you will meet amazing flatmates or maybe you will become friends with some students from your course that you will trust enough and by the end of the first year you will be searching for a private accommodation with those you now know well. 

Mila and friends enjoying a night out at the University of Northampton’s Students’ Union

3. There is always someone who knows what you are going through

You will meet with many new exciting people from different cultures but don’t forget that there is always someone from your country or someone who can relate to your situation as an international student. Whether it’s a first year student fresh out of school or a mature student, either way if you search or join some of the applicant social media groups you will always find someone in your position who you can speak to and who can make you feel better and reassured.

4. Explore your possibilities

This is a bit similar to the previous advice but the biggest mistake you can make is to be shy or too afraid to approach people. Small talk could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, you never know until you try. Many of the students are international here on campus and so not only is it interesting to hear their personal story, but also you could find their experience helpful to you.

5. Money is not the problem (how you manage it is!)

I remember people advising me to not take any jobs during my first year – “it will be hard enough”, they said. I am glad I didn’t listen to them because I not only learnt how to manage my time, but I’ve also gained a unique experience from the very beginning of my studies.  If you are afraid that you won’t be able to afford studying abroad, don’t worry about finding work alongside your degree. In the UK, and specifically speaking about Northampton, there are many part-time job opportunities that are suitable for students. I personally started working just 2 months after coming to Northampton and the most impressive thing is that I was working for the University, which was perfect because after the shifts I was able to go to my lectures or seminars. I became a Student Ambassador, which for me was an amazing experience as it gives you many opportunities to meet new people and to learn more about your surroundings. When you get here I advise going to the Unitemps office to ask for more information. They advertise jobs and can help you with everything from applying to finding roles suitable for you.

6. Learn how to cook

I cannot stress this enough: LEARN HOW TO COOK! I am not saying you need to become a master chef but do spend some time on experimenting with different recipes, maybe even ask your mom or family members for advice before you come. As well saving you a lot of money it will improve your physical well-being. I’ve been there – eating cheap rubbish for weeks but it not only made me feel guilty, it affected how I felt about myself. I would definitely recommended that you start looking at recipes even before you’ve left your home, who knows – this could be a way to have some great moments with your family and be at the envy of all your new flatmates when you arrive!

If you have some advice and tips you would like to share with current applicants and international students then please get in touch. Simply email your idea to

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