I am Italian and I moved in the UK just two months before starting my Higher National journey in September 2019. In Italy, I attended Economic Technical Institute of Tourism: “Marco Polo”, where I achieved my A-Levels in Tourism and Travel Services Management studies with a grade of 98/100 in July 2019. I attended University Centre St Helens for two years, where I graduated from my Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business Administration and Management studies in June 2021. During my HND, I have been able to secure a part-time job at Asda.
I have always been interested in how business processes work, which is the reason I undertook business studies. Firstly, when I was young, I dreamed to become a manager, where I was in charge of individuals and teams, and I had the power and responsibility of managing departments effectively.
The reflection of my dream
I've also had this passion for managing departments within businesses, so I decided to attend an institute in Italy, which focused in Tourism and Travel Services Management studies. The main reason for choosing this field of study was to gain more knowledge of how travel businesses work, such as travel agencies, B&B and hotels, and airline companies. Secondly, I was attracted to the option to study various foreign languages, such as French, Spanish, and German. Apart from Italian and English languages that were mandatory, I chose to study French and Spanish as foreign languages, which give me the chance of being employed in different countries.
Joining a higher education programme
After achieving my A-Levels qualification in Tourism and Travel Services Management studies in July 2019, I moved to the UK and I started looking for university courses I was attracted to. I lived in St Helens, and the closest college in the area was St Helens College, which provides students with university courses as well. After two meetings with the staff of the St Helens College, I decided to join the Business Administration and Management course. After meeting the course leader and applying for student finance to satisfy the tuition fees requests, I started my higher education journey in September 2019 for my HND, with the option of finishing with the BA in Business Administration and Management studies.
HNC in Business Administration and Management
As expected, when starting my higher education programme, it was not easy to quickly adapt to a new country and speaking fluent English language at all times, what is more, it was challenging to understand different accents. I remember that during the first months of my first academic year I was disoriented when facing completely different environments in contrast to those I experienced in Italy, since the learning styles differ. Even daily interactions with peers and lecturers felt like I had to adapt myself to a different environment, but I quickly started to get used to my new life in the UK, and every challenge encountered in learning or communicating with others gave me a chance to improve myself as a person. Also, the lecturers were very patient, positive, and believed in my ability to perform well.
I would call my first semester of study my transition state of trying to learn as much as possible in a new country and adapting quickly to my new life as a student. In my first four units, I achieved a pass in three and merit in one, which were not too bad, considering the transition state I was in. In the following semesters, I decided it was time to push myself by improving myself both personally and professionally. So I completely changed the way I interacted with assignments and in my lectures, where I started interacting more and actively participate in discussions.
I spent a lot of time improving my written assignments, which granted me four distinctions in my final four units. It was a great achievement because even during lockdown, I have been able to achieve the maximum by simply changing my mindset and interacting more positively and actively with my peers and lecturers.
Volunteering and my first work experience
After achieving my HNC in Business Administration and Management studies in June 2020, I decided to continue with my personal and professional development. I wanted to start doing something practical in a workplace, so I started applying for jobs. As expected, it was very hard to get a job during lockdown due to the fact I had little previous working experience, compared to other applicants. I tried to look for jobs in retailers because I have always been interested in working in different departments, where managers, supervisors, and team leaders are required to manage teams.
I have been trying to find a job in retailers such as Aldi, Tesco, and Asda. During the summer of 2020, I have not been lucky to find a job, so I decided to start volunteering at charity shops to gain some retail experience. I have been volunteering at the British Heart Foundation in St Helens from September 2020 till November 2020, when I actually got an interview from Asda to work part-time in the checkout department. I believe that my HNC in Business, and my retail experience at the British Heart Foundation allowed me to start my career at Asda.
HND in Business Administration and Management
During my second academic year, I found myself as a more professional and responsible person by planning ahead. I scheduled tasks I had to do each and every day. During term-time, I had to plan hours spent on lectures and assignments. Lecturers helped me plan my journey by helping with prioritisation, and I had multiple 1:1 meetings to speak about my actual situation, and which areas needed to be improved. Also, the lecturers showed great flexibility towards me when planning meetings, since I was working part-time. I have been able to manage study and work very well by considering every hour I could spend on assignments or meetings with lecturers.
Finally, after achieving my HND in Business Administration and Management studies, I drastically increased my chances of being promoted as a section leader due to the fact, I am qualified for the job, while also having eight months of retail experience working in different departments including checkout, ambient, and produce.