Year abroad: Manchester

On September 2016, I moved to Manchester to study a Master of Science in International Human Resource Management & Comparative Industrial Relations at Alliance Manchester Business School. The reason why I chose Manchester over other universities was the content and the reputation of the programme: it is not only among the best in the UK but it is also one of the handful of programmes in the country that covers Industrial Relations alongside Human Resource Management.

The University of Manchester lives up to its worldwide reputation. It provides students with hundreds of opportunities to develop their skills and enhance their employability. From dozens of clubs and societies to an endless range of volunteering and leadership opportunities, there is something for everyone. Throughout my year abroad, I participated in a Student Debate representing Manchester Business School, volunteered as a tree planter, retail assistant and fund raiser for local charities, engaged as a guest speaker in career talks with high school students, joined the International Society and the Women in Business Club and led student trips to Cambridge and Snowdonia, Conwy and Llandudno.

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To be honest, for most part of the academic year I struggled to find the balance between academic and non-academic activities. Coursework is heavy at Masters level, but it is important to realise that there are only so many skills you can develop through academic research, which is why engaging in other activities and stepping out of my comfort zone became so important to me. With good organisational and time keeping skills, I managed to succeed in both spheres of my life. However, I would like to highlight how challenging this experience was for me on a personal level. It was not the fact that I was going to be away from my family and friends for a year, but rather the idea that I was one step closer to becoming completely independent. For the first time, I had to open a bank account in a foreign country, register with a GP, manage my living expenses, apply for a National Insurance Number, set up a phone contract, and so on. It is one thing to do all this in your own country. It is a whole new world to do it in a foreign one. But I can proudly say that, after doing all of that, I became much more confident on my ability to live on my own.

I am very grateful for The University of Manchester and all of the resources it invests on the development and employability of its students. While I was on the second semester, I managed to get an offer to join Morrisons 2-year People Graduate Scheme. I can openly say, hand in heart, that all of the experiences I had throughout this year abroad had a crucial impact on my employability and enhanced my confidence as a Human Resources professional.

If there is anything I have learned in 22 years of academic studies is that “the real world” is not like other people say it is. No, you won’t find a perfect job. No, you won’t apply everything you’ve learned in school. No, you won’t be able to change everything you think is wrong. No, you won’t work 9 to 5. And you won’t find stability, certainty or reassurance. But you will learn, and you will adapt, and you will grow.

I have learned, adapted and grown more in 3 months as a graduate than in 22 years as a student. People have taken advantage of me because of my good intentions and have lied straight to my face because I am naïve, quiet and compliant. But I learn. I am learning to second guess, to question, to challenge. And I know this is just the beginning, but it is a good place to start.

Don’t wait for somebody else to calculate your worth, because nobody will. Believe in yourself and tell the world who you are before it tells you. Adapt. Make situations work to your advantage. If you don’t like the situation you are in and you cannot change the environment, change your behaviour. Grow. Every minute, every day. Set yourself high standards and work hard to achieve them. Don’t let anyone think you didn’t work for what you have. But be humble. And kind. Nobody likes a brat.

Learn, adapt, grow. Be knowledgeable, be wise, be human. Be you.

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