Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’m Ross Haswell, a 26 year-old currently working as a Digital Analytics Manager at Hallmark Cards at the time of writing this. However, I’m about to enter a new chapter in 2021, working as a Retail Analyst in the eCommerce agency - Spotlight by Ascential which is part of the wider data and analytics group Ascential.
My experiences are varied – I’ve had internships ranging from manufacturing, academia and fashion, an industrial placement as part of my Bachelor’s degree in an engineering company, and a graduate scheme in insurance. The underlying theme to all of the roles has been data, analytics and insight.
What prompted you to pursue an online programme with Aston University? Specifically, why was online appealing to you?
When I entered the working world in insurance upon graduating in 2017, I was very much struggling with imposter syndrome and constantly questioning my own abilities and this led to me struggling with my mental health for a period of time. I knew that I would need to either need to step away from the career path I had always envisioned myself pursuing being analytics, or further develop my knowledge and skills to help mitigate this feeling.
This is when Aston University came in to its own with an online programme in Business Analytics – offering an opportunity to learn whilst continuing to work, avoiding taking a career break.
What has the experience been like? Was it what you thought it would be like and has it met your expectations?
In truth, I never had any pre-conceptions as to what a distance-learning programme would look like, having only experienced university as a full-time student. It has generally been positive, like anything, there are days when it is tough, but you just have to remember what the end goal is. I personally did find it extremely difficult in that initial transition from having freedom to having to dedicate that time to studying again.
All the staff have been very welcoming and shown genuine interest in us as people, along with our backgrounds and experiences. Each student on the course have varying skillsets – some students being highly technical individuals, while others being much more commercially orientated and more skilled in explaining trends and such.
If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?
For me, there are a few key points I think need considering, which I’ve listed below:
- What would I spend the time doing if I wasn’t doing this programme?
- Are there any major life events coming up during the time this programme will run?
- Do I feel mentally prepared for the additional stress and workload that further education brings?
Here, it would be very easy to respond to the bullet points with brief answers like “nothing”, “no”, “yes”, but I would recommend sitting down with a loved one and a colleague or line manager in your workplace and talking to them about the programme and get their input on it. It can add perspective which otherwise might be missed.
Would you recommend the Aston programme and if so what aspects of the course do you find appealing?
Based on my experiences so far, I would recommend the programme. I am almost halfway through at the time of writing this and have found it to be a good blend between technical and soft skill learning, which from what I researched into programmes at other institutions seems to be a difficult balance to strike.