Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams

Jindrich Salek studies PR and Advertising on our Marketing undergraduate degree course. His home country is the Czech Republic. We asked him a series of questions to find out more about his experiences at University. Read more about his challenges, his relationship with his lecturers and his first-hand industry experience.

Studying at university is about stretching and challenging our students. How has your experience at Derby stretched and challenged you?

First and foremost, it must be said that coming to university is generally a big challenge on its own. It’s one of the first big decisions of your adult life and there is a lot to choose from – your dream university, your course, accommodation, and for some of us – the country you will be studying in. Coming to the UK from the Czech Republic was always a dream of mine and when I came to move here, everything went surprisingly well. That just shows one simple thing – don’t be afraid of chasing your dreams – you’ll never know if you don’t try.

When my course officially started, a whole lot of new challenges came up. The course was very professional and with no previous marketing experience, I had to produce marketing reports and projects on a high level. That’s when I found my new system of motivating myself for achieving my potential – give yourself something to look forward to. Set your goals for the next few months and reward yourself for the work that you do.

When the last semester was slowly coming to an end and I was looking forward to going back home for Christmas I set a simple and clear goal for myself – to finish all my assignments before the date I am due to go home so that I can spend quality time with my family. Setting such goal for myself enabled me to finish my coursework with time to spare and gave me a peaceful Christmas with my family. Sounds easy? That’s because it is. When you have something to look forward to, work is just a small obstacle you have to pass to get there.

It also felt good and challenging when we got a chance to work with real Derby-based businesses and run their Twitter accounts for a month as a project for the Digital Marketing module. My group got to work with The Sporting Joint – a physiotherapist clinic based in the David Lloyd Leisure centre near Pride Park stadium.

We were able to choose from a list of companies provided our lecturer, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The lecturers provided further feedback throughout the assignment to ensure that we got as much engagement on our social pages as possible and we all felt we performed really well. Projects like these give you real experience and the feeling of responsibility for your work but they are also fun and enjoyable. The assignment was then graded based on a presentation of our work and achievements supported by academic research.

How do you feel studying at Derby has transformed you? Think about whether you have changed academically, personally, or professionally and how your lecturers/tutors have contributed to and encouraged that.

The University of Derby has provided me with a new way of looking at education. As a marketing student, a lot of the exercises we do in class are rather practical and should resemble the challenges that a real marketeer will face at some point in their career. My lecturers have taught me to think on my feet and not to be afraid to share my opinion. The confidence it gave me is even noticeable in my personal life (or at least I like to think so).

Another thing my course work taught me is the importance of good chemistry in the team you work in. Using both preformed groups and groups based on our own picking in our lectures has taught me not only to achieve good academic standards when working with my friends but also how to ensure a team of people, who have never met before, work like they’ve known each other for months.


And do you feel you’ve had academic support from your teachers when you needed it?

This question I can answer with one simple example from last semester. It was December and I was a week away from going home for Christmas. Which meant not only having to finish all my coursework prior to my departure but also having to say goodbye to all my friends that I wouldn’t see for another month.

I had an enjoyable Christmas day celebration planned for with friends and my final 2500-word marketing report to complete and discuss with my lecturer. As the season was busy my lecturer and I changed our communication tactics and used WhatsApp instead of a face-to-face visit. I sent her my work and was waiting for feedback.

Not only did my lecturer record voicemails with at least 20 minutes of helpful feedback, she even recorded videos and drew how different parts of the report should look. The point of this feedback isn’t to show you exactly how to do the work, but it guides you and helps you get on the right track and get a good grade. All the lecturers have been very helpful so far and the 1-2-1s held before every assessment deadline are key to producing good results.

Your degree is only part of the story. What happens next is crucial in terms of jobs, careers, future study and adventures in the wider world. How has the University of Derby helped you prepare for life after University?

As I said before, the work on my course is meant to be as authentic as possible in terms of working in a marketing agency. Even though I’m only halfway through my first year here, I can already see how interested the University is in preparing us for our life after we leave. We’re provided with internships and job opportunities in our field of study and the Student Employment Agency provides valuable information to anyone interested.

The DRIVEN programme is the University of Derby’s GRADS for D2N2 project. The GRADS for D2N2 project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and is part of the ESF High Level Skills programme. The programme is delivered by the University of Derby as part of the High Level Skills consortium which also includes Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, and Nottingham City Council.

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