Career Aspirations

Emily B

As I am in my second term of my 2nd year, I am starting to think really hard about what I want to do when I leave university. Being surrounded by teachers in my family the obvious choice would be to become an educator myself! However, I don’t feel like this is the route I would like to take so I have had to have a real think! Every opportunity that I have been offered at Derby I have taken so I can better my chances at employment when I graduate and get a feel of what I would like to do. I have been a programme representative, I have volunteered for the National Trust as well as being a student ambassador and part of the marketing team as a digital ambassador.

If you think that you are set on a particular job don’t just aim for experiences that will cater to that. Engage in other experiences as you never know, you may change your mind and the career you were working towards may not appear as great as you thought it would!

Get involved with everything that the Uni is offering. Become a student ambassador for your course, volunteer, join some societies or go on a placement. Talk to lecturers or the Careers and Employment service to see where you can get involved and make your CV stand out. University will fly by so you may as well make the most of your time and experience all you can experience as the opportunities given to you are priceless!

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Careers and Employment

Emily B

Doing a degree is a great gateway to your dream job as it provides you with the academic qualification you may need. It also gives you some life skills that don’t come with a qualification but are just as important such as confidence, team working skills, time management and the ability to network. That being said, many students even in their 3rd year have no idea what job they want to do when they leave Uni! Obviously there will be those who go to Uni with their future planned out and the degree is a fundamental step in that journey but it is not that simple for everyone, including myself.

I embarked on a Tourism Management degree not knowing the exact job that I want at the end. That is quite a good thing in a way because it means that I can see what I like and what I don’t like within the industry so can cross some potential jobs off straight away. And equally, I can focus on what I do enjoy and then see what jobs I can potentially do along those lines. There are so many opportunities thrown your way at Derby so you get plenty of time and chances to find out what floats your boat, so don’t worry too much about knowing exactly what it is you want to be when you finish. The Careers and Employment Service are there for just that purpose. They will guide you in the direction you want to take or assess your skills and see where you could fit in in the world of work. Whether this be continuing with education through a postgraduate course or applying for graduate programmes, they are there to help. The employability advisers are there from your first day at university until up to 3 years after you have left so there is always time to have a chat with them. They can help by arranging a one to one appointment, improve your CV and prepare you for interviews. So take advantage of this service so you can bag your ideal job after you graduate!

They recommend you view your career ahead in three stages:

1st Year-

  • Create your CV and let an advisor review it to make it even better
  • Try and gain some paid work experience through part time work to gain extra skills
  • Think about what you like and dislike in a job to eliminate careers
  • Think about volunteering in your chosen industry- this looks great to employers and you may really enjoy it!
  • If commitments allow it, think about a summer internship in your industry!
  • Book an appointment with an advisor for a careers chat

2nd Year-

  • Identify your skills, if you find it hard to compliment yourself, ask your lecturer or a fellow student! Also identify what you are not so good at so you can work on improving that
  • Research job areas that interest you and the skills/ requirements you would need to get into that career
  • Book another appointment with an advisor to talk about which direction you would like your career to be in
  • If it is a postgraduate course or teaching you are aiming to get into then make yourself familiar with the admissions for these options

3rd Year

  • Review your CV- add anything you have undertaken in your first and second year such as volunteering, paid work and experience.
  • If there is a particular job you re aiming for, target your CV to that and then have an advisor review it.

Good luck!

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University Life- Isabela

Business, Isabela

University is all about academic knowledge! Wrong!

University life is about you developing as an individual more than anything. The aim is after four years to become not only a graduate, but a responsible, committed and reliable person. Regardless of how much you think you will struggle, maturity will come along the way.

University work:

Part of your degree might include individual reports and some will be the result of teamwork. In unfortunate cases, it can be a learning curve that helps you to choose your co-workers carefully next time. Not everyone’s style of work is compatible, so you might encounter arguments, become irritated with peers, unhappy and encounter stressful situations. This is where planning becomes key, because not everyone will attend all meetings. You will be more concerned about the project than others and even in my case, end up doing someone else’s work. You will realise further on that other students’ perceptions of Uni life and their degree differs massively from yours. Don’t be afraid, lecturers will read every single student and when you will thrive, others will fall.


The majority of the students will opt to go into halls in their first year. It offers safety and convenience for the newcomers, the international students or the ones moving away from other cities around the country, as well as parents’ peace of mind. I chose to commute from a close village for the first 2 years of my degree and halfway through my placement. For personal reasons, it was convenient initially, but after the first year, the strain of getting up very early in the morning coupled with the many sweaty runs for the bus meant my enthusiasm had worn off. However, I had many friends who found commuting in their cars quite enjoyable and preferred it that way.

Life at university:

Three years at University will become a very complex journey. You will meet new people, make new friends, swap friends, dump friends but you will always look back to great times you might never live again. As long as you have fun consciously and do not go overboard to miss consecutive lectures and deadlines you will be fine. Weekends are to have fun, enjoy them as three years will fly by before you know it!

Choose right:

Choosing the right University is a big decision for each and every student. The truth is, the University goes hand in hand with the degree you want to do and they will always complement each other. Be it a single honours course or a joint honours course (JHS) you get full support from the staff. Think well in advance if you want to combine two subjects because as weird as the combination might be, in most cases, you can do it. And if it goes wrong, don’t worry, everything in life is a learning curve, you can drop or change the subject after the first year.

Diversity at Derby:

There are students coming from all over the world to study at Derby, so you’ll be able to meet individuals with other cultures and maybe even learn new languages. Everyone’s new so that will make the process easier and be able to interact without being too shy to introduce yourself. The more open you are, the easier it will be to adapt to the new environment and integrate yourself amongst the other new students or ‘freshers’ in Uni terms. Speaking of ‘freshers’ as a student, you have discounts through your University cards, stores like Topman, Topshop, New Look and others will give you discounted rates for essentials like clothes, food and even haircuts!

But remember:

On the other side, as a new student, you are bound to forget that you will have stuff to read, homework to do and other similar things in advance of your lecture so make sure you check your e-mails! Every two days at the least, but even before you start a new game of Candy Crush or check Facebook a million times and still no updates, make a note – Unimail check!

University is not for granted, so make the most of it! Your degree is really important but don’t waste your time sleeping forever, you can gain invaluable experience while studying! Get involved with the Students’ Union and do volunteering to fundraise for charity causes. Otherwise, you can apply to do the Futures’ Award and participate in projects to gain an extra qualification to be put on your HEAR certificate at graduation or use as a talking point at interviews! So many things to do, you can also register to work through the Student Employment Agency for some extra money in your pocket. Casual vacancies come up all the time; so again, check your e-mails so you can grab it first!


Useful Tips- Isabela

Business, Isabela

If I could give one very important tip to all prospective students would be: ask!ask!ask! And carry on until someone responds because everyone knows something at Derby University. Here’s some examples:

1st year – Panic arises because assignments/coursework are due and referencing is still an issue or IT skills needed. University of Derby has a small department in the Ground floor of the University who can help with that, it’s called the Study Skills Office.

2nd year – You’ve improved a lot but the search for a placement is never ending and no results by December. Is it your CV? Is it your nerves at the interview? Why not visit the Careers and Employment Service to see an Employability Advisor? Furthermore, Derby Uni has the employability service, our own little Employability and Enterprise Hub located in the Atrium so it’s right there for you.

3rd year – Placement was ace, you would have stayed if you could. Or maybe you got a taste of what you don’t want to do. Or maybe you’ve turned into an entrepreneur, you want to work for yourself. Now you see all the marketing projects with fresh eyes, it all makes complete sense so you’re ready to roll – 1 st class degree here we come!




Emily B

Choosing your accommodation is a relatively simple choice in the first year. Most students who are moving away from home are doing so for the first time and this can be a daunting experience. There is a choice between University Halls of Residence( Halls – University of Derby) or private accommodation. 


 This accommodation choice is ideal for first year students as it is an ideal way to meet new people. I went into halls for my foundation year as I thought it would be a great way to settle into university life. 

Halls consist of a number of rooms per flat, with a shared kitchen and bathroom with the option of your own en-suite or not. Being put together with strangers from all over the country really helps to maximise your university experience. You can make friends for life at Halls and it’s the easiest choice when it comes to accommodation as all bills are included and it has all the amenities you would need. You get a Halls manager who will deal with any queries you may have to either to do with the people or the site itself. 

All Derby Uni halls are on the Unibus bus route and within walking distance of Uni so are ideal places to live. They are all close to the main town centre whether based at the Derby or Buxton campus. 

Returning students also have the opportunity to pick friends that they want to live with, so if you wanted you could live with the same group for your full 3 years. 

Private Accommodation

You may decide you want to live in private accommodation from the first year. The University has approved private dwellings (Student accommodation in Derby – houses homes flats housing) to choose from which are checked by the Uni to be a certain standard. 

Most students opt for this from the second year, when you have found your feet and made friends that you would like to live with again. 

Bills are not always included with this option so budgeting is essential but you learn many useful skills for  when you do live privately in the future. 

Living with others

Living with people you do not know well or not at all can be tricky. It may take a little while to become accustomed to as it is a big change from living with family. The key thing to remember here is to respect each other! You may not have a lecture in the morning but one of your housemates might, so keeping the noise down after an agreed time is not unreasonable. 

The best way to tackle issues with housemates is to talk to them. If you set up some living arrangements or house rules from the beginning, then everyone is clear on what is acceptable and what is not! You will also have to learn to compromise, this is the fairest way to settle discussions.

It is also essential that you keep the communal areas tidy and clean as everybody will be using this area and it is only fair you leave it how you found it to avoid upsetting your housemates.

But don’t worry, most of the time you will really enjoy living with new people. You may learn something new from them such as how to cook something or they may give you budgeting tips. There is a lot of time to socialise whilst at Uni so getting off to a good start with your housemates means that you will always be coming home to some good friends to hang out with. 

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Presentations at University

Business, Isabela

First and foremost, let’s talk about the format. Mostly everyone uses PowerPoint (yes the old PowerPoint) for creating presentations. Depending on the subject, usually for Business themes and similar projects putting images/pictures in or links to Youtube to make it more interesting and modern. Some other students also try the Prezi online application which is useful for adding collages to presentations. Although I’ve never used it personally, I have come across presentations which looked amazing through Prezi. The other interesting thing about Prezi is that it is very interactive and has effects to keep the audience engaged.

Now, to the nitty gritty of presentations. In general, people run away from delivering presentations for of two main reasons: lack of confidence which leads to panic and group work.

Let’s start with the latter and elaborate. Teamwork is different from groupwork. Groupwork will be what you do most of the times in class, exchanging ideas and opinions and working together to finish a certain task. The same applies to teamwork but it’s more conclusive, because in order to become a team you have to blend together so the finished result is high quality work and everyone has contributed effectively. The issues arising with groupwork is that not all of us are compatible, some will want to lead, some will be unreliable, some will end up doing more work than others and so everything will be part of a learning curve. However, if everyone puts in the same effort, the grades will reflect the hard work and you will become an ace team!

The 5 most important tips I can recommend for presentations are:

  1. Prepare well in advance: make sure to rehearse the presentation with the team at least 3 times. This helps you gain more confidence as well as being able to know if you go over the time. Most presentations are timed for about 10-15 minutes so you should stick within that time limit, rather than go over and not be able to say important information.
  2. Think of a confident start to the presentation – the first few words always make an impact, so you can engage the audience from the beginning because otherwise they will be bored straightaway and they will pay less attention to the rest of the presentation.
  3. Make the transition between everyone’s parts as swift as possible so everyone gets to say their part without having an awkward silent break in between.
  4. If you feel better have cards to help you while presenting. Some lecturers allow it but do not come with an A4 piece of paper as it’s more likely you’ll lose your way trying to read off the paper. The cards should contain small structured sentences just to help you remember key facts.
  5. Know your stuff! It’s the best starting point to any presentation to understand the subject. Research well around it and prepare for any possible questions. Then, you will be more relaxed and it will come across during your presentation!

Here’s some further information to make you more comfortable before your presentations:


Further tips in regards to how to structure a presentation:

  • Don’t use more slides than needed. You will notice in time that slides need to be concise and short, instead of wasting time using too many transitions.
  • If you can, use visual imagery such as photos, graphs and charts which show that you have made some research around the subject.
  • Do not overload the slide – the content shouldn’t be too little nor too much, just enough to make your point.
  • Key rule: ensure your presentation can run on any computer. Prepare to have compatibility issues, take a memory stick with you as well as sending it off to your e-mail.
  • Use simple fonts rather than becoming overwhelming so everyone from all over the room is able to read it. On the other hand, use contrasting colours for text and background so it’s easy to read but not too striking. Work on the balance of colours before the final draft of the presentation.

I hope these tips will help you with your future presentations!





5 Budget meal ideas

Emily B

As a student, you may be a bit short on money so you need to make the most of the money you have and therefore the meals you make. Here are some really yummy but cheap meal ideas for you to try!

Cheesy Cottage Pie (£1.40 per serving)

This classic is perfect for a cold day and can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen. Serves 4 hungry people!


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 500g pack beef mince
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • large splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 75g grated cheese


  • Heat the oil in a pan, and then add the onion and carrots for a few minutes.
  • When soft, turn up the heat, add the beef and cook, tipping off any excess fat.
  • Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce, then fry for a few minutes. Pour over the stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for around 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4. Then boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain, then mash with the butter and milk.
  • Put the mince into an ovenproof dish, top with the mash and ruffle with a fork and sprinkle on the cheese.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is starting to colour and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. Enjoy!

Homemade tomato pasta sauce with mozzarella and spaghetti(£1.25 per serving)

Having been taught this by my lovely boyfriend I will never buy a tomato sauce for pasta again! It’s so delicious and easy to make. Serves two hungry people!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 balls of mozzarella
  • 150g spaghetti or pasta


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.
  • Add the garlic and tomato purée. Cook for a few minutes then add the chopped tomatoes and mixed herbs.
  • Let it cook off for about 5 minutes then add the sugar.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a pan of water and add the spaghetti. Cook for 10 minutes until the pasta is soft then drain.
  • Add the mozzarella to the tomato sauce and take off the heat, the mozzarella should just start to melt, don’t stir it too much otherwise it will break up.
  • Serve the sauce over the spaghetti and enjoy!

Nacho chicken with sweet potato wedges (£1.50 per serving)

This recipe is so simple but so delicious! You can swap the sweet potato for white potatoes if you’d prefer. Serves 4.


  • 40g bag tortilla chips
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 200g tub tomato salsa
  • 142ml pot soured cream
  • handful grated mature cheddar
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Crush the tortilla chips.
  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and season. Stick in the oven for around 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile after 20 minutes, put the chicken breasts on a non-stick baking tray, season, then slash each 3 times with a knife. Spoon 1 tbsp of salsa on top of each, then 1 tbsp soured cream.
  • Sprinkle the tortilla chips over the chicken, then the cheese. Roast for 15-20 minutes until the topping is golden and melting.
  • Take both out of the oven and serve with another dollop of sour cream. Delicious!

And who said desserts aren’t important too!

Lovely lime and ginger cheesecake (60p per serving)

This recipe is delicious, quick to make and will give you 8 helpings. You could also adapt the ingredients to suit your tastes, just make the basic cheesecake and add alternative flavours!


  • 225 grams ginger biscuits – crushed
  • 115 grams unsalted butter – melted
  • 300 grams full fat soft cheese (or mascarpone if you can afford it!)
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 2 limes – juice and rind
  • 8 pieces stem ginger or 4 teaspoons of ginger powder


  • Mix the biscuits with the melted butter and press into a 23cm spring form tin and then chill in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour or overnight if you prefer.
  • Lightly whip the cream and then mix in the cream cheese (or mascarpone) and lime juice.
  • Add the stem ginger (or powder) and lime zest and mix in thoroughly.
  • Spoon onto the biscuit base and spread evenly over the surface.
  • Chill in a refrigerator for 2- 3 hours until firm.
  • Upon serving, sprinkle extra lime zest on to the top and enjoy!


Lemon Drizzle cake (35p per serving)

This simple and easy recipe can again be adapted and serve as a base for almost any cake recipe. Just swap the lemon for orange, chocolate or whatever you like! Approx. 8 servings.


  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon & 1 lime
  • 225g self-raising flour

For the topping

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 85g caster sugar


  • Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  • Beat together the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add 4 eggs and mix thoroughly.
  • Sift in the flour, and then add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and lime and mix until well combined. Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with greaseproof paper or butter, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • While the cake is cooling, mix together the juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime and 85g caster sugar to make the drizzle. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, and then pour over the drizzle.
  • Leave in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve. It will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month so I often double up the recipe, freeze one and keep one.

Students Union

Emily B

As a student at the University of Derby, you will automatically be enrolled as a member of the Students Union. It is independent from the University and is fully student led to represent the voice of students. Current students are elected to be the group of officer trustees who’s roles include the president, athletic union president, vice president of academic affairs and vice president of student welfare and students rights. Their main focus is to listen to any queries you may have as a student or deal with any problems you may be unhappy with and improve the students experiences.

You may consider running to become a student officer yourself. It is an opportunity to make a difference within the Uni and will also count towards your HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record). You will receive full training within your role, with some roles such as the president, needing you to take a year out of your studying to fully commit to it.

If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea but you still want to make a difference within your course then you could become a Programme rep. This will see you involved in meetings about issues within your course specifically. There will be 2 representatives per academic year of your course and you will be required to attend an annual conference at Derby campus to discuss your viewpoints and issues. You will still need to be elected for this role by your course mates but is a great way to gain some confidence and really get stuck in with your course. You will give your classmates a voice at the meetings and better the experiences for future students. I would recommend giving at least one of these a go as it is a fantastic experience.

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The Futures Award

Emily B

With so many students going to University and graduating each year, you need to set yourself apart from the rest by getting involved with other activities offered to you whilst at Uni.

The Futures Award is one of these opportunities and it will go on your HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Record). It will allow you to make new contacts, improve your skills and look more employable when you leave Uni. There are several themes to the Award, which include:

  • volunteering,
  • employer mentoring
  • student’s union
  • social media
  • many more

You can choose one theme from the list or a couple of themes and also the level of the award, of which there are 3: The Futures Recognition Award, The Futures Plus Award and the Futures Leadership Award.

The themes and levels you choose will help you become more employable and gain more knowledge at your own pace and fit it around your other commitments. The levels vary from 25 hours to 100 hours commitment and include attending some workshops or seminars on your chosen theme and providing evidence of this. I would encourage you to make the most of every opportunity that University throws at you as those 3 years will go extremely quickly!

If you want to get involved with the Futures Award, then all you have to do is be a post or undergraduate student, have the commitment for one of the themes and contact the careers and employability service at Derby Uni.Go for it!

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5 things I wish I’d known

Emily B

Before coming to university you have so many thoughts going round your head about what to expect and what it will be like. Here are my 5 things I wish I’d have known beforehand:

  1. Everybody is in the same boat as you! That first day can be a bit of a daunting one as you don’t know what you will be walking into or who you will meet. The great thing is that everybody is in exactly the same situation as you and feeling the same way as you. Once you get that first smile off somebody or have that first conversation, you feel all your anxiousness disappears. Remember, some of the people on your course will be your friends for a long time to come- so it’s a positive day.
  2. You don’t need to know everything! You are at university to learn more about your degree subject and enhance your knowledge so don’t feel like you have to know everything about it. The lecturers really are there to help you and guide you through your degree and you will see yourself improving through your assessments.
  3. That part-time job is not more important than your degree! I know money may feel like it is more important than studying or attending your lectures- but it is not! Yes you may be earning some money right here right now but in the long term, getting an excellent degree will pay off far more than that part time job. Prioritise. I would encourage you to have a job as it is good experience, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself or lose sight off your main focus- your degree.
  4. There will be things you don’t like- that’s life! There will be that one module, that one person or that one assignment that really doesn’t float your boat. But nobody said it wouldn’t be challenging. How you deal with those situations will really help you as a person as Uni is about learning new skills personally too, not just academically. I personally was not a fan of group work, however, I couldn’t pick and choose whether I did it or not. You have to learn to get on with it and find ways to deal with it and in the end, you will feel better for overcoming those problems.
  5. Lecturers want you to succeed! There are no trick assignments or lecturers that give you things to trip you up or fail. They really are there to push you and get the best out of you. They want you to be challenged and you can also challenge them. If you disagree with their point or feel you can add something- tell them! They will appreciate that you are really paying attention and feel strongly about what you are saying. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion or send them your work to read beforehand. I was a bit dubious at first to have my work criticised but at the end of the day, they will inform you on how to improve your work and therefore gain a better grade. So be proud of your work and trust your lecturers!

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