Stella’s Starting Study Vlog

This post was contributed by Stella Asante (student ambassador) and Gemma Bauman (student engagement officer). Here, Stella gives an insight into starting at Birkbeck. 

Walking into your first class can be nerve racking! Gathering your books, taking a seat and looking around wondering who to talk to and what your lecturers will be like. This feeling of uncertainty is perfectly normal – it’s the feeling of a challenge; a new adventure.

But, what do you need to know to be a little more comfortable with this feeling?

Final year Linguistics and Japanese student, Stella Asante, shares her tips on Freshers at Birkbeck, covering:

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Deciding the future of the Birkbeck Graduate Research School

This post was contributed by Dr Sarah Lee, Head of Research Strategy Support at Birkbeck, who explains how graduate students can have their say on the future of the Birkbeck Graduate Research School at a discussion event on Monday, 23 May

Birkbeck Grad Research school - Birkbeck at night

In the past the Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) has been a valuable source of on-line help and support for our graduate research students. However, it could be so much more – it could be whatever our graduate research students want it to be, and we want to find out what you want.

So – we are asking graduated to join us on 23rd May for the BGRS launch event hosted by Professor Julian Swann, the Pro-Vice-Master for Research and Director of the Graduate School.

The event will begin with a Q&A session where the audience get to have their say about what they want their graduate school to be.

Following on from the business of the evening, we will move to the largest issue of the day – the upcoming EU referendum and the potential impact of the vote on the University sector. We have invited speakers from both the remain and leave campaign and are delighted to confirm that Lord Balfe will speak for the remain campaign. Our speakers will talk for a short while, and then the floor will be thrown open to allow you to ask your questions.

After the debate graduate students will be welcome to join us for a drinks reception – this will be an opportunity to meet colleagues from other subject areas and to continue the discussions which began in the earlier part of the evening.

Graduate research students are the real life blood of the college, and it is important to us that the students help to create the future that is best for them – so our graduate school provides the best research environment for the students to flourish.

Students interested in attending the event should register here.

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Women Talk Tech

This post was contributed by Aida Zibaite, current student of Birkbeck’s Foundation Degree in Information Technology.  Aida attended the Women talk Tech event organised between Birkbeck’s Careers & Employability service and Girls in Tech.

Women in Tech (l-r) Rita Usanga, Nathalie Richards, Harveen Chugh and Sinead Mac Manus

Women in Tech (l-r) Rita Usanga, Nathalie Richards, Harveen Chugh and Sinead Mac Manus

Last week I attended ‘Women Talk Tech –How I transformed my Career’ held at WeWork Spitafields. It was a talk with three truly inspiring Birkbeck alumnae: Sinead Mac Manus, Founder & CEO of Fluency; Nathalie Richards, Founder & CEO of Edukit; and Harveen Chugh, Specialist in Entrepreneurship & former Growth manager for the UK government`s Sirius Programme.

Firstly, Rita Usanga, the moderator and a very passionate woman in tech herself, set the mood by asking the panel to reflect on their careers over the past decade – a question I would personally dread the most in a job interview! Their responses captured my attention and compelled me to share my own thoughts.

These very successful ladies studied Bioinformatics, Arts Management and Migration Studies at Birkbeck whilst pursuing their respective careers, at some point realising they didn’t quite enjoy it and they needed to make a change. Through trial and error, high challenges and risks they became who they are now – digital technology entrepreneurs.

At that point I had a few questions buzzing in my head:

  • What message are they trying to convey by sharing their success stories?
  • What are they trying to achieve?
  • What is the driving force behind their success?
  • What are their core values?
  • Or simply, from my bewildered girl in tech point of view: What problem are they trying to solve tonight?

The conversation made me think about my own experiences as a woman studying computer science. Recently, I attended a tech workshop at Birkbeck held by a software development firm. I was one of three women in the room with another 20 men, the majority of them tech students. I couldn’t help thinking that, although the men had many questions and were taking full advantage of the opportunity to seek advice on their own career development, the women remained silent.

I raised my hand and asked: How many women are there among the 30 employees in your company? Suddenly, the room went silent. There was a very long pause and then I got my answer: five female employees. Only two of them have some software development skills and not a single one of them are in an IT role.

So the key message I took from the event is that there is an evident lack of women in this field yet, believe me, there are so many of us who can code, solve problems, create innovative ideas and overall add so much value to bring success to any business. However, at the same time, it made me more determined. A passion for tech has life-changing potential. Moreover, reflecting back on that evening’s truly inspirational stories I have to agree with Rita’s opinion that books cannot prepare you for the reality of working in Tech. You have to get out there, network, make valuable connections, find your passion and possibly find mentors to guide you along the way into finding your own magical path to this ever-evolving world and make your own impact. The question is what is holding you back and why don’t you start today?

I would like to sum up with a final thought: One’s time is very valuable and irreplaceable in terms of how one chooses to spend it. I certainly made an investment that night and only time will show its return. Hopefully it will turn out to be something I can measure and share in value to be able to humbly give back a similar yet very unique gift to my own to college community and other women in Tech.

Read more about the Women in Tech event here

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Owl origami is a #bbkhoot!

This post was contributed by Andrew Youngson, media and publicity officer for Birkbeck, University of London

#bbkhootThe stretch between being offered a place at university and actually commencing studies can seem like an eon when you’re looking to start the next chapter of your life.

To help while away those foot-tapping hours and days, we’ve found a great solution (well we think so anyway!) The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed students who have been offered a place on one of Birkbeck’s many undergraduate programmes which begin in September have been sent a paper-based challenge, featuring a proud emblem of everything Birkbeck represents: the owl.

The Birkbeck owl is not only a symbol of the College’s evening mode of study, but of our students’ collective drive for knowledge and wisdom. And it also happens to be great to construct out of paper!

With this in mind, flat-packed origami owls have been winging their way (pun unabashedly intended) across the city and beyond, along with handy instructions on how to bring them into three-dimensions.

To offer an extra helping hand to our next wave of students, we’ve put together a quick series of photos to show you how your owl should look at the various stages of construction.

And what then? All you need to do is personalise it (if you wish, but why wouldn’t you want to?) and #bbkhoot it! Send us your photos on Twitter (@BirkbeckNews) and Instagram (@birkbeckuni) with a little message to say why you chose Birkbeck. We look forward seeing your designs. Prizes will be awarded to the top three owls at Orientation on 26 September.

Click on the top left pic below to start the slideshow…

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Behind the scenes extras…

As an added bonus, here’s a picture of our owl (created by Naomi Smith) taking part in its very own photo shoot. You’re welcome.


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