How international experience makes the difference

Elise McDonald, BA International Business Management
Elise McDonald
SUMS alumni
BA International Business Management
Elise tells us what it was like studying in Vienna on her year abroad and about the practical experience she gained on her placement year in London with Unilever.
Elise McDonald receiving her Dean's List award from Professor Rachael Finn
Elise McDonald receiving her Dean's List award from Professor Rachael Finn.

Why did you choose Sheffield University Management School?

The main reason I chose the Sheffield University Management School was because of the uniqueness of the International Business Management course to study abroad in your second year and the ability to also complete a placement year. I found that a lot of universities only offered the opportunity to do either/or.

In addition to this, the focus that the school has on employability was something I found really important when I was attending open days, especially for anyone studying a business related degree.

The amazing resource of a dedicated careers service in the Employability Hub, specifically for the Management School, was a real selling point instead of having to use a centralised service. Throughout my time at University it has lived up to my expectations! I also just loved Sheffield as soon as I came to visit. I thought that it had a really friendly feel and was the perfect environment for students. 

The main reason I chose the Sheffield University Management School was because of the uniqueness of the International Business Management course to study abroad in your second year and the ability to also complete a placement year.

Elise McDonald

BA International Business Management

What have you most enjoyed about the programme?

Although I have loved my time in Sheffield, my favourite thing about the programme has to be my time in Vienna studying abroad for second year and my placement year in London working for Unilever! Living in Vienna was a completely new and amazing experience and I was able to travel to so many places I wouldn’t have considered such as Lake Bled in Slovenia. Living in a completely different country was incredible and the culture was so different. It has improved my confidence so much and I’ve made friends from all around the world!

My placement year was also an amazing experience and I am so grateful to have been able to do both. I absolutely loved my role as an Assistant Brand Manager and the team I worked with, so going to work was so fun instead of a chore! Living in London was so different to my time in Vienna but just as amazing for different reasons. This programme provides you with so many amazing experiences that I have gained so many skills and amazing memories from.

Tell us about arriving at University, how you have settled into University life, and what you most enjoyed about life as a student.

Like most people, I was extremely excited but nervous about starting university! Before I arrived in Sheffield, I was worried about making friends and moving away from home but the University halls were a great place to meet new people and adjust to living away from home.

Due to completing a year abroad and a placement, I have moved around a lot during my time at University which was initially a daunting thought. However, I have loved every new experience and have settled more easily and quickly as each year went by. I now feel confident to throw myself in to any new situation!

My favourite thing about University life has been my involvement with the societies and sports clubs. I play for the University 1XI for Hockey and this has played a huge part in my social life: making new friends and going to sports nights! Being part of a club is an amazing experience, topped off each year by the Varsity competition at the end of the season against Hallam. This has been a highlight of my university experience in Sheffield.

What do you like most about the city of Sheffield and why?

The thing I love most about Sheffield is how student friendly it is! Thanks to the huge student population and the two universities, the city is very well set up for student life. Wherever you go there will always be students around, which I’ve found really comforting during my time here. There is a huge range of nights out practically every night of the week! My favourite night is going to our student’s union on Wednesdays for our sports night called Roar.

We’re also so lucky to have the peak district on our doorstep for more wholesome activities such as walks, pub lunches or trips to the local dairy farm called Our Cow Molly for the best ice cream ever. Kelham Island (the trendy part of the city) is also great for bars, food halls and brunch! There really is something for everyone.

Tell us about the practical experience you gathered while studying. How did the Management School support you?

Between second and third year, I completely a placement year at Unilever which allowed me to spend over a year gaining practical experience in Marketing. Placements are something that the school is really passionate about and they will do whatever they can to support your decision to complete one, for example by assigning peer mentors and organising mock interviews and industry speakers.

During my time on placement, the management school kept in contact with me and supported me via telephone calls and placement visits to check everything was going okay. I still had access to all of the School’s resources whenever I needed them.

During final year, I am further enhancing my CV and gaining more work experience as a Futures First and Student Ambassador for the management school working at open days and mentoring other students. I have really enjoyed working for the Management School as you can easily work around your studies with the support of all of the staff here as everyone appreciates that your studies are a priority.

What are your plans after graduation? How has your course and support from the Management School helped increase your employability?

After University, I will be joining Unilever on their Future Leaders Programme in Marketing.

Having completed my placement year at Unilever, I was thrilled to be invited back on to the graduate scheme for 2019. The opportunities that the course provided me with, such as going abroad and selecting lots of optional modules, were extremely beneficial in securing my placement.

Large multinational firms love to see international experience on your CV! The course content and module offerings have also been extremely relevant to the career that I have chosen. So it is a great starting point for any career in business as you can tailor your course around your interests.

Have any modules on your course really stood out from the rest? Tell us about the support you get from Management School staff

My favourite modules at Sheffield have been International Marketing and The Leisure Industry because I found the content really interesting and the lecturers extremely engaged in the topics they taught. Both my lecturers for these modules used a lot of their own research within the modules which meant they were experts in all aspects of the course and were so passionate about what they were teaching.

I found International Marketing particularly interesting because I could easily relate it to my experiences on placement working in Marketing for Unilever and the Leisure Industry was completely new to me and therefore exciting to learn about! I was also so lucky at my partner university for my study abroad as the module list was huge. I could choose some really interesting and niche topics such as Diversity Management and Global Branding. Overall, I have enjoyed all the modules I have studied as part of my programme.

Elise was awarded the Dean's List in 2019. This prestigious award is a real opportunity for ambitious students looking to gain recognition of their academic, employability and social responsibility-related achievements since starting at the School.

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