Student Name: Stuart Burnside 

Course: BA (Hons) Business Management (Graduate Apprenticeship)

Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland

Year of Course: 2nd

About you

Why did you choose to study a Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) at QMU, and what attracted you to the course?

I have been working at QMU for nearly twenty years. I have had many opportunities to attend various training courses that have widened my knowledge and added benefits to performing in my role. However, while these courses have been very useful, I wanted to gain some academic recognition for what I was doing. Additionally, as I would still be working while studying, the chance of practically applying what I was learning at the University into my day job appealed to me.

The Course

What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been your highlight?

Meeting different people who have had different experiences in different industries to the one I work in was really interesting. However, I think it has been the whole experience rather than one specific thing. I was slightly apprehensive about returning to studying at my age, mainly as I was doing it alongside my job. The support from everyone within the University made everything so much easier, especially when coronavirus came on the scene; while face-to-face lectures were cancelled, they were replaced with online learning. The whole transition was seamless from a student's point of view. It made you feel like everything was under control - I'm sure it was chaos behind the scenes!

Has there been a particular course activity you found especially interesting? How have your lecturers supported your learning?

In my first year, I really enjoyed Economics. It gave me an invaluable insight into how Economic issues on a global scale can impact things I do in my job and how all of these factors need to be considered when making decisions.

In second year I enjoyed Operations Management as I am interested in measuring metrics and looking at how they can be improved. This particular module gave you the tools and knowledge of analysing data using different programmes and functions on Excel. Again, I could see the value in what I was learning and how I could apply this throughout my career. 

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

I have been extremely lucky not to have faced any real challenges in my time here. When I first began, I felt a little overwhelmed with the amount of reading that I needed to do and found it difficult to squeeze it all in. However, during one of our Work Based Learning Sessions, Bryan [Cruden, Lecturer in Business at QMU] discussed various techniques to help manage my workload and, more importantly, prioritising reading that I found very helpful. 

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Do it! Four years seems like a long time, but it really does fly by. The staff are fantastic and do everything they possibly can to support you during your time here.

The thing I like best is that I learn things that I can apply in the workplace straight away and almost instantly see the benefits of what has been implemented. I have been on courses before where you learn something, then never use it again for a long period of time. With the GA Programme, you are constantly developing your skillset academically and professionally.

Enhancing student learning and personal development

How has the GA helped you in the workplace in terms of developing a career path?

It has given me confidence knowing that I have knowledge backing up any decisions that I make. Previously, I probably never gave much thought to critically analysing things, but now it has almost become second nature. So I know that if I have an idea or submit some work and I'm challenged, I can confidently say why I have chosen to do something a certain way.

Have you joined any schemes/initiatives to enhance your learning and development?

I have attended a couple of Peer Assisted Learning Sessions (PALS) that have been extremely helpful. They provided a great insight into assessments and things to consider when planning your essay or reports. Additionally, it gives you confidence that you are heading in the right direction.

"The thing I like best is that I learn things that I can apply in the workplace straight away and almost instantly see the benefits of what has been implemented. I have been on courses before where you learn something, then never use it again for a long period of time. With the GA Programme, you are constantly developing your skillset academically and professionally."
Stuart Burnside, BA (Hons) Business Management (Graduate Apprenticeship)

Life as a Student at QMU

What's your 'top tip' for making the most of being a student on a GA programme?

Engage with the people in your class! Listening to and learning about other people's experiences and how they address specific issues can be extremely valuable. Furthermore, it's a fantastic opportunity to enhance your network and form collaboration opportunities for your businesses.

What has been the most valuable lesson that you've learned at university?

Ask lots of questions! Your lecturers, PATs module leaders are a fountain of knowledge. Make sure you use it to your advantage! 

And finally...

What are your plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?

I would like to use my degree to progress my career within the organisation I currently work for. I hope to use what I learn to make positive, long term changes that will benefit the student experience both on and off-campus.

[Published July 2021]