Dear Freshers: where you could be in three years’ time


Here’s a bit of honesty: the expectations you have for the future are likely to change as your make your way through your course. The things that you love may change, and the things that you hate you may come to enjoy. It leaves many people in a muddle about what to do with their time at university in order to get to where they want to be. Luckily, however, the truth is that in most cases it all works out in the end.

I caught up with a few of our recent graduates to see where they are now, and hopefully inspire some of our students with the realisation that as great as university is, life goes on afterwards.


Sarah Warsaw

Sarah works in Software Marketing at IBM after achieving a 2:1 in Marketing Management.



Tell us about what you are doing now.

Currently I work in Software Marketing at IBM. My key responsibility for one of the software brands is to run their social media channels. I really enjoy the role as I have a fantastic team to work with and I am learning a lot.


What kind of tasks do you complete?

My role includes:

–       Managing the IBM Big Data brand twitter account for UK, creating and curating content that is relevant for our business audience.

–       Work on IBM / 3rd party events whereby we can target existing and potential clients with our solution offerings.

–       Manage our software brand’s relationship with Gartner analyst to ensure we are update with market findings / trends / analysis.

–       Pull together internal communications to ensure the Big Data sales team is update with marketing activities and have all the correct assets to support their client relationships.


Has getting a job given you more freedom and independence?

Absolutely, it’s brilliant to be able to manage projects yourself and have the responsibility for things that really make a difference. There is more pressure in comparison to Uni, as there it only really makes a difference to you, whereas now what I do can affect real business success.


What made you decide to get a job and not go traveling or pursue further education?

I had originally planned to go travelling but I was given the opportunity to return back to IBM for a marketing role. I took it as I knew I would still be able to take the opportunity to travel later on in my career having earned some more money and gained some great experiences at work too.


How have you found going from university life to a 9-5 style job?

I didn’t find the transition too hard as I had done a placement year prior to my graduate role. However it is tough, completely changing your lifestyle but you get used to it. As a group of friends we still go out and have fun, but on week days it’s usually straight after work and the last tube rather than big nights out (most of the time anyway).


What are you plans for the future?

It’s hard to plan too far in advance as when you’re working in a large company as opportunities pop up when you don’t expect them to. However in the short term I am planning to learn as much as I possibly can about social media and marketing at IBM in my current role and then in the next 6 months or so I will look for a job following my graduate scheme. In the distant future I’d love to have my own business!


What is your favourite memory of Lancaster University?

I have so many brilliant memories of Lancaster – in particular I had a fantastic time getting involved with my college JCR and being voted in as the Publicity Officer during my first year. In my final year I worked at the Sugarhouse and made so many great friends there – so much fun!


What advice would you give current Lancaster students?

Make the most of your time at Lancaster and the opportunities that are given to you there. It’s a really competitive market when it comes to graduate jobs, however as I had taken part in loads of activities at uni, I had loads of transferable skills that can be used at work. In particular communication skills, both written and verbal – these are essential in the workplace, so make sure you are top notch at this. If you can get work experience for a year or over the summer, it’s really useful as it gives you a little insight into working life and the kind of opportunities you may want to pursue after Lancaster. For now though, make the most of the uni lifestyle, trust me you’ll miss it!


Douglass Melkle

After achieving a 2:1 in Economics, Douglass decided to go travelling around Europe. He then took a job with Ernst and Young and is studying to become a chartered accountant.




What did you do straight after graduating?

I went travelling around eastern Europe for 3 weeks. The main cities I visited were Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Split with smaller cities in between within these countries. The best thing I saw was Plitvice lakes in North Croatia, a national park with incredible lakes and waterfalls.

I travelled on my own, but definitely didn’t get lonely as I always met people in the hostels who were travelling to my next city or wanted to do something together during the day.


What are you doing now? Are you enjoying it?

I’ve just started my second year working for Ernst & Young training to become a chartered accountant. So far I’ve really enjoy working for the firm, and enjoying the work I’m being given. I mainly audit other company’s financial information, which involves going out to the client and testing/checking the accuracy of their financial results. I’ve always enjoyed having a routine so I enjoy the 9-5 lifestyle, and it enables you to appreciate evenings and weekends more. The only downside is the very difficult exams I’m having to study for to qualify.


Have you made many friends at work?

The great thing was that I was joined the firm with 25 other graduates so we immediately became a close friendship group. The department I work in are quite young and often host social events together.


What made you decide to get a job and not go traveling or pursue further education?

I’ve always wanted to get my qualification as soon as possible, with the idea that I can then take a year out once I’m 24/25 to go travelling safe in the knowledge I have the relevant qualifications/experience to find a job when I return.


What are you plans for the future?

Once I have qualified, I’m not sure what I will want to do, at the moment I am quite interested in financial consultancy.


What advice would you give current Lancaster students?

If you have an idea where you want to be in a few years, definitely stick to your goals as it can be very rewarding as I have found. But if you don’t know what you do then take your time and don’t jump into a job that you might regret.


Melanie Crathorne

Mel has just finished her Msc in Management with Project Management, after achieving a first in English Literature.


Did you enjoy studying for a masters?

Generally I’ve really enjoyed it. It was fun doing something much more practical than all theory-based, particularly doing projects and consultancy reports for companies made it feel a lot more relevant.

Because I still didn’t know exactly what job I wanted to do after my undergrad, it gave me a chance to study a really different degree without having to do the whole three years again.

I met some great people along the way that I wouldn’t usually have ever come across; it was a very international course. I’m not going to lie it was hard at times, doing so much group work with people who weren’t native-English speakers takes a lot of energy! But I don’t know when else I will ever be able to work with such a diverse mix of people.

How does working towards a masters compare from your undergraduate study? Was it a big step up?

It was an entirely different experience for me, just because it was a completely different degree in a completely different department. By the end of the three years I had learnt what I needed to do in English Lit to get consistent grades for each assignment, but moving from a very independent and creative course to a much more objective and group-orientated one was different to what I was used to.

It was a lot more intense in terms of contact hours and workload, which in a sense was a step up, but academically I didn’t feel it was harder than my undergrad. It was more about learning to adjust to a different subject area, and studying something much more practical than what I had become used to. The English department was always very laid back and I did feel left to my own devices in a good way, but the Management school has felt a bit more competitive and exciting working with and against people. Doing presentations is a big thing in LUMS, dressing up in suits and having flashy powerpoints, I felt a bit like I was on The Apprentice.

Did you find it hard seeing other people getting jobs or going travelling whilst you continued studying?

I wouldn’t say I ever found it hard. I was a “normal” amount of jealous, but not because I was studying. In my eyes doing the masters would help me to do all those things too – and I wouldn’t have been confident saying the same after graduating from my English Lit degree.

It’s not that I felt that English Lit was useless to get you a job, it just occurred to me that as much as I’d enjoyed studying it, I didn’t want a career in that area. I just wanted to see how well I could cope in a more business subject area.

What’s your favourite memory from your time at Lancaster University?

I don’t think I could ever put it down to one memory! The only thing I could say single-handedly is the friends I have met here is what has made it special. I have to say I’ll always have fond memories of The Sugarhouse after working there for 4 years, and the Furness 15 hour bar crawls have been weird and wonderful every time.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve moved back home and I’m planning on looking for grad jobs. I’d always been against moving to London for that because I didn’t see why it was so attractive to everyone. I now see the appeal though.

I’m pretty happy to let a job take me anywhere, and as for travelling I’d like to go and do it properly for a year after training in a graduate scheme – when I’ve got some money to come home to as well as use around the world!

What advice would you give to current Lancaster students?

Don’t let it take you until your final term in third year to realise that the library is brilliant for studying! It might not be for everyone but promise me you will at least try it.

Don’t stay in your comfort zone, get involved in everything you can. If you already know what you want to do when you graduate, use uni for all that you can to get what you need for it; uni offers you pretty much anything you need to pursue what you want, or it can at least point you in the right direction of how to get there yourself. If you don’t know what you want to do then that’s cool too, but use uni to work out what your interests and hobbies are and have fun with them.

Just enjoy it and don’t let yourself leave with regrets.