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Janek Krikava

BSc (Hons) International Business and Management
Placement with Vauxhall, Luton (July 2017 – July 2018)

Janek Krikava

Why did you apply to the University of Bradford?

Because I graduated from grammar school in the Czech Republic, I had very little knowledge about universities in the UK.  Nonetheless, I was determined to study abroad. With the help of UNILINK (a Czech Agency  supporting students who want to study in the UK), I decided on a list of a few universities I would like to apply to.  After further consideration of ratings of all the universities, I chose the University of Bradford because its School of Management was highly regarded and the university was known for successfully accommodating the needs of countless number of international students.  It seemed a great place to start my university life.

Indeed, during the first month I met many people from all over the world. This allowed me to get to know customs and traditions from places I wouldn’t have had the chance to visit. To this day, this is what I like the most about the University of Bradford. Each and every day you are likely to meet an extraordinary person from an interesting corner of the world and have a chat with that person. It is always an eye-opening experience.

The University campus is amazing and I adored every moment on it. University gym and any other facility being close by is a big plus.  When I had to travel to the School of Management’ s Emm Lane campus, the buses run smoothly and it is a perfect place to spend quality time with friends as the surrounding area is astonishing. The city, however, didn’t meet my expectations. It could have been due to lack of research about the town itself prior coming to Bradford, but the University definitely makes up for it.

Why did you choose that particular course?  What did you like and enjoy most about the course?

This course was one of the reasons why I wanted to study outside of the Czech Republic. Back home, there aren’t many management courses and their overall quality isn’t the best. ‘International Business & Management’ course had everything I was looking for. It isn’t too specific; it allows me to get basic understanding of various concepts from many fields which I hope I will eventually encounter in my future life. The opportunity to gain overall knowledge of the business environment with further possibilities to choose a more specific path in later years after one discovers what she/he likes is simply a perfect concept for me.

What tips would you give to prospective students about the course at the University of Bradford and the university itself?

The best piece of advice I can give is to simply be yourself. Find your own pace of processing all the information you are given, do not get overwhelmed by it. Nobody is the same. You can easily start feeling anxious if you keep comparing yourself to others. Don’t get me wrong, competition is a good thing, but you need to find the right and healthy balance of it.

Also, bear in mind that university isn’t only about studying. Do get engaged in various activities which are offered by Students Union or by the university itself. You want to have a great time by combining studying with fun. Once again, find your own way of doing so. Participate in workshops, become a member of a sport team, do whatever will help you to make the most out of everything which the university can provide to you. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to your academic results as they are important too.  But in the future, would you rather be around somebody who had an interesting life full of amazing experiences while maintaining good grades or somebody who always “aced” all exams but haven’t spent any time on activities outside studying?  Well, employers will be asking the same question…

What support have you received from Career and Employability Services / Placement Staff?

I am a hard working person who’s got a certain vision and is determined to meet the goals I have set. However, I can honestly say that I would never got where I am, hadn’t it been for the Career and Employability and Placement Staff.  I have been visiting the Career and Employability Services from the very first week of my studies and met the Career Consultant linked to International students at the orientation session.

This demanding but lovely Career Consultant got the best out of me. Whether it was regarding my CV, covering letter, or preparing for assessment centres, she always made sure I left our appointments prepared, she often gave me many documents to go through in my free time, and was always available for any questions I had.  Although there were available mock interviews, various drop-in sessions, or mock assessment centres organised by the Career and Employability Services, it was the same Career Consultant who helped me the most and basically got me the placement. I wouldn’t have gotten it without her help.

What action are you taking to improve your employability whilst at University?

Many students have taken up roles of student representatives, faculty representatives, or PAL leaders in order to improve their employability skills. I haven’t taken up any of the roles above, yet it hasn’t hurt my chances as I still got a placement.  However, I had a job during my first and second year. I was also a member of an American Football Team in my first year and of an ice hockey team during both years.

This indicates that there are various ways of gaining transferable skills and experience in order to improve your employability, such as working part-time, having positions of responsibilities at university (Class Rep etc.) and playing sports.

What advice would you give to your fellow students about finding placement and work experience opportunities?

Whether my placement experience will turn out to be good or bad, whether you actually get a placement or not, the process of finding a placement is definitely something you want to go through. In fact, it allows you to experience what it feels like when one is searching for a job after graduation. Anybody trying to find a work experience has to go through the same (or very similar) application process consisting of multiple stages and interviews.

Being able to experience this while you’re studying will ultimately give you an upper hand over anybody who hasn’t attempted it after graduation.  It also allows you to make the most of everything the university has to offer. Various workshops, CV clinic, Career and Employability Services, you name it – utilisation of these will open your eyes and will help you to be ready for the future. Definitely visit Career and Employability Services as often as you can!

Tell us about your current placement (include brief responsibilities) 

I will be working in Marketing Department as part of Customer Retention Management team. My placement title is Customer Retention Management Services Specialist.  Our goal is making sure that we give customers the best possible experience whilst they drive one of the Vauxhall cars, or interact with us in any way which is a key strategic element. This role offers an exciting opportunity to work in ever-evolving and challenging new area of Customer Experience in Europe, working cross-functionally across multiple departments, with various external suppliers as well as the local country teams based across the region. The role offers a solid understanding of the CRM area and how a customer centric strategy supports us in understanding and serving our customer and also an opportunity to shape this relatively new area.

Among my responsibilities will be working with local agency support teams to manage sustain requests from the market contacts for both Lead and Campaign Management, working cross-functionally across the business to identify build a CRM User Community and identify new opportunities and feature enhancements to continuously optimise the platforms, or supporting and documenting the definition and scoping of new requirements and ensure alignment with key business stakeholders

How will the placement year benefit you when you return to study at the University of Bradford?

I hope that the placement year will allow me to better link the theoretical knowledge to workplace and to my work experience in general. But what I really hope for is that the placement year will help boost my chances in obtaining a job after I graduate.  It will surely be an invaluable experience which will give me a real opportunity what it feels like in an environment and an industry I am really enthusiastic about.