“How has Term One been for you?”, insights from Economics students. – OurWarwick
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“How has Term One been for you?”, insights from Economics students.

Hi everyone! I hope you are having a good holiday thus far. I will be writing on how term one was like for me as an Economics student.

Qurratuain Amir Ihsan, third year Economics student.

1)  Describe your first term as an Economics Student in one word.

A roller-coaster ride! (Oops, more than one word, sorry!)

2) What are your favourite modules, and why?  

My favourite modules are definitely Behavioural Economics and my optional module from the Interdisciplinary Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) department called, “Understanding Wellbeing: Theory and Applications”. I love Behavioural Economics because it gives slightly realistic economic models of what we’ve learnt so far in first and second year. I mean, can you really assume that everyone can be rational though? I don’t think so. Behavioural Economics extends the models we learnt mainly from Microeconomics and takes into account that humans are imperfect, and most of the time, their decisions are not always rational. We learn things like addiction, the ‘loss aversion’ theory by the great Kahneman and Tversky (fun fact: I spent my A-levels reading Misbehaving by Richard Thaler and he really idolises the two, hence where my love for BE started) and Economics of Happiness. 

My other favourite module is Wellbeing because I have never been in such an interactive module as this one. Our lecturer is amazing and she’s always willing to give a hand when you need to. This is also the first time where I get to be in modules with people from different courses, and it is super useful because I did not take Biology for my GCSE so I do not know a single thing about the human anatomy. I was really puzzled when they began talking about the fight or flight response (they call it sympathetic and parasympathetic in scientific terms). When I discussed this with a classmate who takes Biology as a course, she explains it so well that it’s now stuck in my head. We also went  out of the seminar room one particular week and walked around the Claycroft area to understand the importance of doing physical activity for one’s wellbeing. More importantly, on the last week of term, the lecturer told us to get into pairs and discussed each other’s progress in our assignment. She said that this is to encourage students to empower each other and to avoid competition where they don’t share their work just because they want to be better than everyone else. This really hit me because Warwick University can really be competitive in nature. Knowing that others are willing to talk about their progress in their assignment with me, and providing constructive feedback on each other’s progress really makes me believe that higher education can really be a healthy environment, you just need to find your tribe and encourage positivity.

3) What do you find most interesting about the Economics course?

I genuinely find that particularly this year, the support I get from RAE (short for Research in Applied Economics) has been amazing! My supervisor has been really hands-on with my dissertation and I think it also helps the fact that I’ve thought about my dissertation topic in the summer, so when it comes to choosing my supervisor, I already know how to narrow my options to supervisors who are specialising on the topic of my dissertation. I know Term 2 will be a stressful term for most people, but I’m actually looking forward to it. My supervisor did say that using the software for my dissertation can be daunting at first, but people tend to pull through, and that puts me in slight comfort knowing that I can do it, I just have to try.

 4) What optional modules have you taken and why so? 

In third year, there is only one core module which is the dissertation module and you generally have to take 90 CATS worth of optional modules (in layman terms, 6 modules; if you’re not taking language or politics). In Term 1, I took 4 optional modules; International Economics, Behavioural Economics, Economics of Public Policy and Wellbeing. I haven’t really decided on what other 2 optional modules I am taking in Term 2, it really depends on how I feel after I’ve been to the lectures and have seen the content material. I’ve chosen these modules based on my passion, strength and advice from previous final year students. I’ve always loved the behavioural bits of things and understanding the human brain and why they do what they do so Behavioural Economics and Wellbeing is an obvious choice. I took Economics of Public Policy because I believe that my strength lies in Microeconomics (hopefully) and the module is generally micro-based. I took International Economics because it is highly recommended by every Economics senior I come across and they are not wrong. So far, I am happy with my module choices and I hope I make the right decision for my other two modules for the next term.

5) Was there a lot of workload in your course?

Honestly, I felt like second year was more tense and has more workload because a) you have three core modules and b) each weigh 30 CATS so you have no choice but to do it and there’s that pressure on the higher weightage it puts on your grade. This year, I chose my optional modules based on what I am passionate in so really it does not feel like there’s a lot of workload and the information just sticks in your head a lot better. I’m also glad that they had a lot of core modules in second year, because the second year content is very useful for third year, especially second year Econometrics because you need to know what econometric method you’re using for your dissertation. 

6) Are you a part of any sports clubs or societies? Why did you join it and did it help with your university experience so far?

I am a member of the triathlon club and the hip hop club. I genuinely love dancing and it’s been an aim for me to do an Iron Man so the triathlon training really helps, even when I’m the slowest member in all three sports. Joining the hip hop club is probably one of the best decisions I made because they are very supportive. I would definitely recommend you watching the video I posted on my previous blog post to understand how supportive the club is. It also really improved my mental health, surrounding myself with positive and supportive people. 

7) Did you receive support from the University such as the Economics dept, Careers and Skills and EconSoc in terms of career support and advice?

I joined the Sprint programme and have been given a mentor from Goldman Sachs, she was an amazing mentor who gave me tips on how it’s like transition from university and work, how to be more resilient and other career advice. So yes, the University has helped me a lot in terms of preparing for the career life. 

I am a scholar of a Malaysian firm, hence I have secured a conditional offer to work there. Now my aim is really to score the grades required for me to secure the job. I invite you to scroll down to read Tara’s experience in gaining career support from the University. 

8. What advice would you give to prospective students adjusting to university life?

Find your tribe! Join societies, sports clubs, get a part time job, volunteer at a place. Once you find your tribe, you really see how much you grow as a person and also witness the growth of the people around you, and it’s amazing!Life is more than just the academics, in the end. When you are looking for a job, they want to see you and how personable you are. The grades are only a part of the requirement to the job.

I have also invited a first year student, Tara Pain, to write her experience in Term One so far. 

Tara Pain, first year Economics Student

1)    Describe your first term as an Economics Student in one word. 

Incredible! 

2) What is your favourite module, and why? 

Microeconomics – I really enjoy the diagrammatic analysis in microeconomics. Also, Elizabeth Jones, the director of undergraduate studies for economics, teaches the module and she’s absolutely brilliant! Her explanations are very clear, and she really cares about teaching us in the most effective way, using many examples to improve our understanding.

3) What do you find most interesting about the Economics course?

The variation in what we learn! From government policy and its effects on the economy, to consumer theory the mathematics of optimisation and the history of the world economy the course offers something for everyone. 

4) What optional modules have you taken and why so? 

For one of my optional modules I chose The Industrial Economy: Strategy which is all about firm behaviour and has many links to game theory and oligopoly theory. I chose this module because I’m very interested in behavioural economics and have really enjoyed it this term. 

For my other optional module I chose Foundations of Finance which is a very popular choice for economics students interested in a career in financial services. This is why I chose the module because I am considering a career in investment banking and as such, having some core knowledge on financial concepts including calculating the present value of expected future cash flows and distinguish between spot and forward exchange rates for example. 

This module is a term 2 module which is run by the Business School. As such, I haven’t started the module yet but am certainly looking forward to it. 

5) Was there a lot of workload in your course?

I have been surprised by how intense and busy I was during the first term of first year. I must admit that I went into first term thinking that the workload coupled with my extra curriculars wouldn’t be too busy but boy was I wrong. I think with applying to lots of spring weeks for investment banking alongside attending events run by the finance society and participating in contemporary and modern dance society I’ve had lots to be getting on with. However, if I were to consider just my academic workload, it’s certainly been manageable. The best thing is to make sure you’re attending as many lectures as you can and all of your seminars and workshops because it’s very easy to fall behind if you miss even one lecture. That being said, you can usually find the time to catch up on any work that you have missed… sometimes it may mean a few late nights or early mornings. Also, the economics department have numerous weekly support sessions for all modules which you can go along to with any questions you may have about the content. There is plenty of opportunity to gain help if you’re willing to seek it. 

6) Are you a part of any sports clubs or societies? Why did you join it and did it help with your university experience so far?

I am a member of Contemporary and Modern Dance (CMD) Society where I attend the weekly advanced ballet classes. I joined because I’ve done ballet for many years now and like to keep it up as a hobby alongside my academic studies. This term we had our annual showcase called Centrestage where we got to perform in the Warwick Arts Centre and your friends and family could buy tickets and come along to support you. CMD has been a great opportunity to get to know people from outside of your course and flat as well as attend the weekly themed socials and even a Christmas Dinner. 

I also attend many events hosted by the Warwick Finance Society. This term these have ranged from the weekly market discussions to a networking event in The Shard and on campus events with esteemed external speakers. It’s been great to meet other students, not just from an economics background, at these events and engage in thought provoking discussions.  

7) In first year, you are encouraged to apply for a Spring Internship, did you apply for it and what was your experience so far? Did you receive support from the University such as the Economics dept, Careers and Skills, EconSoc etc?

I have applied for many Spring Weeks this term, probably around 15 so far. This has been very time consuming but certainly worth the effort (I would have spent more than 50hours this term writing cover letters, taking online tests, sitting video interviews and also conducting telephone interviews). If you manage to secure a Spring Week in your first year, there is the opportunity to convert it into a summer internship for the end of your second year of university. If you can manage to convert your Spring Week into a Summer Internship it is really beneficial as it means you don’t have to spend countless hours applying for summer internships at the start of your second year of university (which counts towards your degree, unlike first year!) This is why I think it’s a good idea to really invest your time in applying to Spring Weeks in first year, when you need to get 40% to pass whereas in second year, your academic results count towards your degree classification.

The university provides lots of additional support for the application process if you require. The Finance Society runs weekly CV and cover letter clinics which you drop into and the careers department also runs a session on Spring Weeks, what they are and how to put your best foot forward. 

As Warwick is a target university for many companies, including the big investment banks but also investment consultancy firms and asset managers for example, there have been numerous on campus events where you can meet company representatives and find out more about the programmes on offer for first year students. There’s also been a number of networking dinners which you can apply to. I was fortunate enough to attend dinners with Goldman Sachs, HSBC and PJT Partners which were all great opportunities to learn about the company’s ethos and what it’s truly like to work at the firm. 

8. What advice would you give to prospective students adjusting to university life?

My advice would be to fully immerse yourself in university life and all it has to offer. University is a great place where you meet people with such different interests and experiences that you’re bound to find a great group of people you get along with. 

It’s great that you need just 40% to pass your first year and that it doesn’t count towards your final degree as whilst this doesn’t mean that you can do absolutely no work, it does mean that some of the academic pressure is taken off which gives you the chance to get involved with any societies or sports that you’re interested in. 

 

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