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Claudette Kika

Pharmaceutical Management (2011)
PhD student at the University of Bedfordshire

Claudette Kika

Why did you apply to Bradford? Why did you choose that particular course?

I applied to the University of Bradford because whilst applying for universities in my final year of 6th form, I heard that it was quite high up in the university league tables and had a high reputation for learning and good teaching facilities. Also I had researched on the social aspects of the university, and the University of Bradford had a dance society and I’ve had a passion for dance from when I was younger. Bradford school of Pharmacy has a brilliant reputation throughout the UK so I thought any course under the Pharmacy umbrella would be very interesting, challenging and useful for my future career prospects. So I chose Pharmaceutical Management because it’s a multidisciplinary course with both Pharmacy and Management aspects, so it was great having a mixture of science and business, which I both love, all in one course.

What did you like and enjoy about the University and your course?

I enjoyed the community spirit the University of Bradford provided, so being able to talk to your personal tutor if you had any problems academically or socially and lecturers were also very forthcoming academically whether it was in tutorials, seminars or lab work. I loved being a part of the dance society, performing around the university, even for the end of year summer event Party on the Amp (one of my other favourite things about the university). I absolutely loved the Pharmaceutical Management course as it was only around 15 of us in the course, so we grew close over the three years and for the management modules I got to travel to the Bradford School of Management as well, which is a lovely campus. I feel this is where my love for Business Management grew as I achieved higher in my Business Management modules than in the Pharmaceutical modules. I valued being a course representative for three years and also receiving 2nd prize for most outstanding achiever in Pharmaceutical Management. That was an absolute honour.

How did Career Development Services support you during your time at University?

They helped tremendously! As part of the Pharmaceutical Management course I had to take a module called Career and Personal Development in my 2nd year. In that module I was taught how to formulate a CV as well as a covering letter and also was given interview tips and for an assignment. I was actually asked to take part in a job interview scenario in which I was graded. The CV format  and covering letter has been used by me for job applications up until I started my PhD in October 2013, so I’m very grateful for the help they provided throughout my course.

What tips would you give to prospective students?

My advice would be having a good balance between social and academic life, it will be worth it in the end.  Having too much of a social life on campus could prove detrimental to your degree classification and also on the other hand making studying your only priority can put you under unnecessary stress and pressure.  Establish a good relationship with your personal tutor and if possible your lecturers, they can be useful as referees for further study or job prospects. If you feel you can balance a few extracurricular activities, do some volunteering, become a course representative or join a society. These things will definitely make your CV stand out in this difficult job climate and also it’s a good way of meeting new people.

Tell us about what you are doing now.

Thanks to the Management aspect of the course, that Pharmaceutical Management provided, after two years of working immediately after my graduation in 2011, I decided to do my PhD. I originally was looking for a supervisor who could supervise the possible research area of small pharmaceutical companies and the challenges they face with drug innovation, but there was no available supervisor in that area. I worked in the University of Bedfordshire for a year and saw a PhD studentship advertised on their website for the area of Big Data and Higher Education. At the time, I had heard of Big Data but was not aware of the challenges or opportunities. I applied for the post, did a research proposal and passed the interview. I’m going into my final year at the University of Bedfordshire in September. My thesis is entitled ‘Supporting Student Management with Business Analytics in the UK Higher Education Sector’. Being a PhD student, I attend UK and international conferences as well as present my research at some of them, attend seminars and networking events and finally organise workshops for other PhD students and staff

What action did you take to improve your employability at university?

I made sure I didn’t just limit myself to the academic side of things, I made sure I was involved in extracurricular activities to showcase to future employers that I’m a well-rounded candidate for their advertised posts.  I also had my CV and covering letter checked by a member of staff in the careers and development services at the university.

What advice would you give to students wanting to do a PhD?

My advice would be make sure you want to go on to do a PhD for the right reasons, like the passion you have for the research area and not for the ‘Dr’ Title. A PhD whether full time or part time is a long and arduous process and you have to be thick skinned, in the sense of your supervisors being critical of your work, other students and also reviewers of articles you submit to conferences. You have to be prepared to work hard and not be afraid to go to networking events to get contacts for your exploratory (pilot) study or main study and also be active on social media to find out what the latest trends are surrounding your field. If you are jumping directly from Bachelors to PhD like I’ve done, don’t be afraid to ask for support from your supervisors and postgraduate research school, they should be on hand to help.