Finally Free

I’m finally free, for the first time in a long time. It’s a fantastic feeling. I handed in my first ‘proper’ assignment for my course, this morning. A huge 3,000 word monster. I’m really not sure how I’ve done. I’m quite scared at the moment that I’m no good at this course, and I just don’t know it, but time will tell.

Today we started a module on ‘consumer insight’, which I thought was rather fascinating. It’s linked heavily with consumer psychology, which I’m always shouting about. Essentially, it’s about understanding consumers (those who consume products, as opposed to buying them) and the psychology behind what engages them, and attracts them to products. We discussed Freud, who is always a hot topic in anything remotely psychologically-related. We also talked about other schools of psychology, such as Erikson and Deleuze/Guattari. We discussed materialism, post-materialism, and many other boring sounding things. I found it absolutely fascinating. To cut this short, I’m quite certain that I’ve found my niche with marketing. It’s very early days, yet, but I can definitely see myself researching and writing a dissertation around this.

After my lecture, I ran into my fellow peers from the Feminist Society, who had set up a stall on campus, and were raising awareness about Equal Pay Day. Essentially, women, on average, get paid 17% less than men. If, at this current rate, women and men were paid equally, over a whole year, women would stop being paid on October 30th. I’m not sure if that made any sense, but I hope you can see my point. It was a lot of fun, and afterwards, I ran into an old friend of mine, who’s currently doing a Creative Writing MA.

He sounded like he was working on some amazing things, and it made me very jealous. He told me of an enlightening seminar he had today about the fear of writing. Admittedly, I’ve come some way to overcoming my ‘fear’, but I haven’t had the time to write anything, recently. This makes me very sad. I think I might dig out one of my unfinished stories this weekend, actually. Here’s hoping!

On the subject, I’m going to start my NaNoWriMo project in a couple of days. NaNoWriMo happens every year, and it’s essentially about writing an entire novel in one month. I have no idea what shape or form it’s going to take, but I’m just going to run with it. I’ve got my own profile on the website, and will try to post updates if I can. It’s going to be an experience, that’s for sure.

In other news, I’m also going to grow a moustache for Movember again. Last year’s moustache wasn’t epic. I’m hoping to change that this year. If anyone hasn’t heard of it, it’s a month long moustache growing fest, raising money for the Prostate Cancer Charity. Again, if you can, get involved!


A Strange Day

Other than apologising to a snail for nudging it, today has been a somewhat strange, and different day.

A few things of note happened. Firstly, I attended my first SSLC (don’t ask me what that stands for) meeting today. Essentially, because I’m course representative for MSc Marketing Management, I need to attend a meeting with fellow course reps, and teaching staff every three weeks. I’ve never been involved with anything like this before, so I thought I’d throw myself into it. I received a circular e-mail last week from the group’s secretary, asking for people to submit items for discussion, so they could be added to today’s agenda. I thought it was standard procedure for everyone to reply, so I e-mailed, Facebooked, and cornered my course mates after lectures, until they gave me some topics to bring up. Most notably, I was told to ask about the fact that there is no policy whatsoever on academic referencing in the School of Management. We’re told to use the ‘standard’ Harvard style, but the style has been adapted and mutated in many different ways, that the phrase is now meaningless.

Little did I know, I would actually be the only course rep. to submit anything for the agenda. They actually drafted me up a ‘paper’, which had my name on it, to be included in the agenda. It was a little daunting, being given my own agenda item, but I think I handled it well. Actually, I was congratulated afterwards for my presentation. What I’m most proud of, however, is moving the School towards a policy change on references. I suggested the School produce their own style guide, and the group chair motioned to take the idea to some sort of education committee, to get it passed, and actually made policy. That’s my good deed for the day, then.

I also received my first assignment back today. This was the 500 word essay used to check whether we can write coherently in English. I scored a 60, which makes me a little sad, as I was expecting something a little higher, considering the simplicity of the assignment. I especially don’t appreciate being ‘corrected’ on my English. Hmph. Part of me believes that because of my rather ‘ethnic’ name, I was type-cast as an international student when my essay was marked, not a native speaker. This brings into question something else which I should have brought up at the meeting. The School doesn’t have a policy of anonymous marking, something I thought was very effective in Humanities. I should probably write all this down.

Today’s conquests didn’t stop there, however. I attended the first ever meeting of the UoS Green Party, who are very new. They seem to have good intentions; both the society, and the Green Party, that is. To be honest, I voted for the Green Party in the European Elections on the basis of their campaign video, but realistically don’t know a huge amount about them. We talked a little about their policies, and they all sound, well, sound. They want to invest more money in renewable energy, to save money, and to create extra jobs. Their policies are essentially tied into spending money on things which really need it (the NHS, for example) by saving money by being green. Well, I’m sold. The three main parties seem to do little else these days other than spend most of their time and resources on trying to copy each other. Sad, but true.

As the UoS Green Party are so new, they’re quite deficient in committee members, so I happily signed up as publicity officer. I’m already in the process of getting the two founders on Surge Radio next week, to talk about all things green in the ‘Societies Hour’. I think I might just be better at this publicity thing than I believe myself to be. Here’s hoping. Right now, I seem to be doing a lot more PR than anything else, though. It’s a lot of fun, but I really should learn Photoshop at some point, and learn how to make posters, and logos, and that sort of thing. That’s going on the to-do list.

Right after my bajillion assignments, that is.

Maths, and maths, and maths.

I just had a very surreal experience, on my walk home from university. I was on my way home from my personal tutor meeting, when I passed two people: one who I’ve met in the last week, and one I’ve known in passing for a few years, now. They both ignored me. I’m not sure that both of them saw me, but I’m pretty sure the latter gentleman did. It’s really strange why saying hello has become such a chore. I know it’s foolish to expect everyone to act the same way as me, but a brief “hi”, or a nod, or any acknowledgement of my existence on this planet in the eyes of that person would not go amiss.

My personal tutor meeting was interesting, to say the least. It highlighted a fundamental flaw in the organisation of the School. I was apparently meant to ‘blog’ a skills audit, on a blog I’ve been given for keeping in touch with your personal tutor. The thing is, over the last few weeks, I’ve been informed that I’ve had to blog this skills audit in its entirety, complete half of it, and upload only that, complete the whole thing and take it along to the tutor meeting, and the like. I’ve got my first meeting as course rep. with the teaching staff next week, and I hope to bring this up.

What was really interesting, however, was that I was (understandably) criticised from my poor numeracy skills. Being a solely humanities-based student, I haven’t studied, or done maths for about 6 years. However, no one can deny how much of a useful skill it can be, in life, as well as business. Indeed, it was made very clear that it’s essential I develop good numeracy skills in order to succeed in business. I guess I’ve always known this, deep down, but have always shied away from it. I need to do my very best to change that, now, however How I achieve this, whether through Brain Training (when I can afford it), or simply through constant practice, is still questionable. One thing stands, though: I NEED to get good at maths. This needs to happen.

More busy things, and quite a lot of marketing.

Today I had my last lecture for my ‘Introduction to Marketing’ module. I went into it having serious doubts about my choice of course, and came out feeling happy and enlightened. It was a four hour lecture, which seems to be the norm in the School of Management, but I actually really, really enjoyed it. It was one of those moments when everything suddenly fit into place, and things started making sense.

We talked a lot about branding, which I am very passionate about. We talked about how important brands are, as well as the perception of brands, in the eyes of a consumer. It’s fascinating how we all have an innate knowledge of big-name brands, thanks to the advertising we’re all indoctrinated with from a young age. If I was to, say, show you a curved tick, everyone would instantly think ‘Nike’. It’s almost a subconscious thing, and it’s sort of amazing, sort of galling how big a part of our lives advertising has actually become. More than that, what brands people use, and purchase, says an awful lot about them. Because of this, companies have to do their very best to cater to as wide a customer base as possible, perhaps through different product ranges (think of how many types of Ford car you can think of) as we’re all different, with different values, and different ideas about what true value is. I think it’s fascinating how this value system works, and how we’re constantly changing and refining these values, as we learn more and more about ourselves. As well as this, we talked about logos, and their importance. Did you know the BMW logo represents the image of a moving plane propeller? We touched ever so slightly on where logos come from, which was great, as I’d really like to get into logo design, and that sort of thing.

Another interesting thing that happened me today, was that I attended my first meeting of the ‘New Wave Feminist Society’. It was just a coincidence that the RAG meeting I was attending beforehand finished just as the meeting was starting, so I decided to stick around, as I recognised some friendly faces. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the content of the session. If I’m brutally honest, I was expecting some stereotypical ‘feminist’ ranting session, but they’re actually pretty liberal about it all. Today we were discussing an article written by some academic about student/teacher ‘lust’ in universities. Apparently, the article was written as a joke, although it was rather shameful, not only condoning sexual relationships between female students and their male lecturers, but encouraging them. The article also condoned adultery, promoting a ‘bit on the side’, which I thought was horrible. We talked about many things, from how stereotypes are enforced through a mostly female teaching staff in primary education, to how paternity leave, as it stands, is a joke. No, there was no bra burning here. They really didn’t seem to have any ‘beef’ beyond wanting equivalent treatment in terms of pay, and such, to men. Can’t say fairer than that, really. I think I might go back next week. They’re discussing fashion, and I think (well, hope) that my newfound knowledge of branding will come in useful.

More society things…

Today was another fun-packed day. I seem to be doing quite a lot of work for MagicSoc, as their Publicity Officer, at the moment. I was on Surge today, as a guest on the ‘Societies Hour’, spreading the magical word and the like. It was a lot of fun, and I got to read some minds. Check out the podcast if you so wish. I’m not sure if it’s any good or not (I seriously cringe at the sound of my own voice) so listen at your own peril.

Afterwards, I went to my first PAU meeting, standing in for the President of MagicSoc. This was also fun. We talked about many things, mostly related to money, and agreed that more people need to spend money on things such as insurance, so we (the Union) don’t get sued, as that would be very bad.

Other than that, I went to what I think is my first committee-type Theatre Group meeting, about the aftermath of the Edinburgh plays. It was a long, heated discussion, and many people got quite angry. I was scared at some points.

Apologies. I seem to have slipped into my narrative voice for some reason. Possibly because I’m extremely tired. Maybe this is a good thing, but probably not. Eh; if you’ve gotten this far, I commend you.

My diary is actually packed for the next week. I’m seriously running my life thanks to the help of my iPod Touch. I’d be completely lost without its Calendar app. It seems that to make up for three years of not really doing anything remotely society related (which is not at all a bad thing, in my opinion) I’m making up for it this year. I’m not going to lie. It’s fun, and I feel important. Also, it’s something to do until Royal Mail stop deciding whether or not they want to strike, and actually deliver my marketing books which are essential to completing my first assignment. Ho-hum.

Union Council

Yesterday, I attended the first Union Council meeting of the year. For those of you out of the loop, it’s a meeting of all of the major players in the Students’ Union. I was there to plead my case in the Postgraduate Officer elections, which were over relatively quickly, but ended up staying for the entire thing. It was quite long, in all. Perhaps three hours or thereabouts. Since it was the first Union Council of the year, reports had to be given by the Sabbatical Officers, and elections had to be held for Union committees.

It was quite an enlightening experience for me, as I saw for the first time what I’d been missing out on my whole university career, and what I’d probably never get a chance to be a part of. I didn’t win the election, and the post went to someone far more qualified than I. In a way, the experience made me realise how much work actually goes on ‘behind the scenes’ at the SU. It’s a little scary, but rather reassuring. What’s more reassuring is that these ‘committees’ meet regularly, to discuss how various things are going, and how to improve things for the sake of the Union and its members. It seems like the kind of thing I should have been getting involved in while I was an undergraduate. It’s just another wasted opportunity, I guess.

So, understandably, I’m feeling a little deflated. I’m still going to change the world, but in a way, it made me realise how much harder I need to be working. There were people there who were involved with charities, and had even started charities, and won awards for them. Very admirable, certainly, but again, it shows me how far I still have to journey to get to a stage where it’s possible to change things.

Maybe, then, I just need to change my ways, to be able to spread my wings and make a difference.

MSc Marketing Management: End of Induction Week

Last week was rather long. Apologies for not posting a day-by-day update, but I was rather inundated with non blogging related things. All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I’ve learnt an awful lot about marketing. I’ve learnt so much about marketing, that I’ve come to realise that I don’t actually know that much about marketing at all. I’ve learnt that marketing is a (supremely) integral part of any business, I’ve learnt some things about accounting, and most importantly, I’ve learnt that marketing isn’t at all what you think of it. In fact, it’s not really what anyone thinks of it. It’s quite hard to define what marketing actually is. From my perspective, it’s an amalgamation of various business functions, all catered to give customers a more pleasant experience in dealing with said business. But what do I know?

I had Wednesday off, which I was very relieved about. I spent it not really doing anything at all, except catching up on reading (Trainspotting) and gaming (The Secret of Monkey Island: SE), and also catching up on sleep. The early starts really bothered me at the beginning of the week, but I’m quite enjoying waking up to see the sun rise over Broadlands Road, but it does mean that I’m going to sleep earlier to compensate, and that I can’t really stay up late as a result. Ho-hum.

Thursday was a lot of fun. I had my first ‘Introduction to Marketing’ lecture, which was pretty inspiring, in which I found out many of the truths I revealed above. My course director, who takes the unit, sounds like quite a cool guy, who’s very experienced with this marketing business. He’s the man responsible for turning Coke from glass to plastic bottles! The lecture was quite long: three and a half hours in total, I think, but it was broken up in such a way that it never really seemed too boring. It’s a far shout from Humanities lectures, which unfortunately were sometimes a little too one-sided, where you were simply talked at for an hour, or two. I’m not complaining, as seminars were used to feed back and discuss ideas. The lecture was an overview of marketing, in general, but at many points throughout the session, we were asked questions, and made to answer! I started off thinking of these only as purely rhetorical, as is the case in most lectures, but soon realised that our lecturer was expecting an answer. I think this is one way of compensating for the fact that we don’t actually seem to have any seminars – at all. It certainly made the lecture go faster, however, and helped keep us all engaged. The lecture was also broken up by many real-life business stories, or ‘case studies’. Right from the start, I’m seeing how what I’m learning can be applied to business practice, which is brilliant.

After this, we had a short break, before having to go and pick up our new ID cards. To be brutally honest, I’m not a huge fan of the new student cards. They seem a bit more drab than the old-style of card I’m used to, but that could possibly just be because I’m so attached to the university dolphin. I miss the dolphin. 😦

I also completed my first assignment on Thursday night, which I think is very productive of me, even though it was due on Friday. It was 500 words on why marketers must ‘delight’ their customers, but I continually found myself going over and editing what I had, as I wasn’t happy with it. That being said, the essays seem a lot more ‘straightforward’, and mostly common sense, which is something I occasionally lack in. Good to start learning now, then, eh? No, the assignments seem very much to be about doing the reading, and then, with this in mind, writing the assignment. I was initially terrified of using a new referencing style, but actually, Harvard seems to be a lot simpler (and quicker) than MHRA, although MHRA does appear as if it’d be more helpful to someone either marking or reading the essay. I also got my second assignment during the lecture on Thursday, which is a case study, of sorts, of a soap company. This sounds mental, but I’m actually looking forward to it.

Friday quite simply involved handing in my work (which was a little tedious) and attending a library induction, and finding out about all of the business resources we can use. It’s absolutely remarkable how much stuff we can get our hands on, from full access to the NexisUK database, to the ‘Keynote’ marketing database. It’s quite scary that I can, as it stands, pull up financial information on any registered company, but I’m sure this will come in handy as I start working on more assignments.

I’m looking forward to starting the course ‘properly’, although I kind of have already. I have ‘Accounting and Control’ first thing tomorrow, and I’m not actually dreading it as much as I originally thought. As always, I’ll keep you updated. Wish me luck.