Lida graduated from the Social Sciences with Quantitative Methods* BSc in 2019. Here she looks back on her experience studying at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE).
* From the 2020/21 academic year onwards, this degree has been renamed as the Social Sciences with Data Science BSc.
What were your first impressions of UCL?
I thought it was beautiful! It was quite overwhelming in Fresher’s Week but I enjoyed all the ‘getting to know you’ activities they laid on for us. It was really positive and everyone was really nice and welcoming.
Tell us about your journey into UCL and university study.
When I came to the UCL open day I got a really nice feel. The people I talked to only had nice things to say. Students said they were able to balance their studies with extra-curricular activities which was something I was looking for and which I have found to be true. I just fell in love with this university compared with others I visited and I applied for two programmes here!
I chose this BSc as I never loved one single subject enough to take a whole degree in it and I liked the interdisciplinarity and flexibility this degree offered. I did Maths, Economics and Politics at A Level but didn’t get the opportunity to learn computer science or coding at school so I was interested in this aspect. There was also the flexibility and autonomy to drive the degree where I wanted which was really appealing.
What have you found most valuable about your degree programme?
The flexibility I was given. I was able to study the subjects I wanted compared to more rigid degrees my friends were doing. We were also encouraged to go to other relevant departments to enquire about modules.
The lecturers were really helpful – whenever we had problems the department tried to sort it out. The lecturers would share the research they were working on and it was good to see first-hand what they were doing.
“I also enjoyed the fact that the lectures were very interactive, rather than us listening to one person speaking. We did a lot of group work which I enjoyed and it meant you got to know more people on the course than you would have done otherwise.
The Quantitative Methods (Q-Step) aspect of the course has made me a lot more confident in working with big data in all types of software. Before, I found it daunting and didn’t really appreciate how you could look at data - now it is not intimidating. It taught me to look at things in a detailed way and the importance of attention to detail in analysing data. These skills were really valuable, especially when it came to interviewing for jobs - employers really liked the fact I had worked with data and could use R programming and had skills I could take into the role.
I did my third year dissertation on Obamacare and looked at whether increased spending on health insurance had led to better outcomes. We had to use R programming as part of the dissertation and I accessed data on the OECD health website.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while studying?
Also Q-step! It was very hard - I found it very challenging to keep up with the lectures, but I was always really happy with how it ended and I was very proud when I finished my coursework.
What do you hope to do after graduating?
I did an internship in the summer after my second year. I got this through attending lots of networking events I found through the UCL societies – I sent a lot of applications and got a paid internship at a financial services firm as a marketing analyst. At end of the summer you had to do a presentation for Vice Presidents and Senior Leaders to see who would be offered a permanent role and I was offered a job! I am starting in September as marketing analyst. I have been offered the choice of two departments and am still making up my mind about which one to take.
Tell us what it has been like to live and study in London.
London is such a fun city – always something to do either within the university or outside. Although I lived in London I hadn’t done many of the tourist type things before so had the opportunity to go to galleries, museums etc. with other students who were interested. Being in central London, as opposed to the outskirts, makes it quicker and easier to go wherever you want.
Which of UCL’s academic facilities were most helpful to you?
The online UCL library catalogue was a godsend – I found it really useful, especially for finding resources for my dissertation.
The new social space at the IOE was where I spent most of my third year – it’s a nice chilled area. I’m not good at studying in silence so I enjoyed working there where you could talk and eat as well as work.
What did you do when you weren't studying?
I did rowing in first year and was in the Football Society in my second and third year where I was Volunteering Secretary in my final year. I really enjoyed this and met a lot of my friends through the society and went to a lot social events. I also tried the Women in Finance Society and a number of others. I was less active in these but followed what they did and went to see some of the speakers they invited e.g. the CEO of ASOS and a speaker from Spotify which I was really excited about as I’d love to work there.
How did you find living in UCL accommodation?
I didn’t like the hall I was first allocated to as it was very quiet but I was able to change halls. The accommodation team were very helpful and understanding about me moving. I moved to Ian Baker House.
I then lived in private accommodation with two friends in the second and third years. Having lived in London all my life I’m really glad I did take the opportunity to live with other students rather than staying at home as, even though it was more expensive, I got to experience living more independently and I know I’ll be living at home for a while now once I’ve started my new job.
What would you say to somebody thinking of applying to the IOE to study your course?
Think about what it is you really enjoy studying and see if it’s in the realm of what is offered in the degree. Bear in mind you can take the degree where you want and can tailor it to what you want to do most. Try to visit the university and go on a tour and also see if London is for you.