Kevin Rhodes

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Performance Improvement Consultant, EY

As part of his BBA Management, Kevin completed both a placement with Ernst & Young, and a study abroad year in the USA.

LUMS appealed to me because of its excellent teaching and outstanding facilities. I love the sense of community within the Management School, and there are so many opportunities and extra-curricular activities to get involved in throughout your degree. Its reputation as one of the best Management Schools in the UK impressed me, and the variety of opportunities that LUMS provides for my future career ultimately made me choose Lancaster.

The BBA Management is a generalist degree where you have the opportunity to cover a variety of topics in different areas, such as Economics, Marketing and Accounting & Finance. When I was studying my A levels I didn’t really know what area of business I wanted to specialise in, so I chose a generalist degree as it allowed me to gain a deeper insight into a broad range of areas.

An aspect of the BBA that is unique to the degree is the combination of completing both a year abroad and an Industrial Placement year within a four year degree scheme. I chose to do both of these, which I found exceptionally challenging and rewarding – I strongly believe there is no experience like it! The Industrial Placement year was the most valuable to my degree. I had the opportunity to apply the knowledge that I had learned at university in the working world at a company of my choice. Most Industrial Placement students receive a graduate job offer from their company too, which is an added bonus!

There are so many options available for students to get involved in at university! I was part of the running and tennis teams in my first year, and was also a LUMS tour-guide on Open Days. When I returned to Lancaster after my year abroad and Industrial Placement I became a LUMS Ambassador, and I was also a course representative for the BBA. Being a course representative allows you to represent your student cohort at staff/student meetings. You have the opportunity to provide feedback to lecturers and tutors on what went well with your modules and what could be improved. I was also a Team Leader for LUMS in the Universities Business Challenge, which is an annual simulation business game in which over 100 UK universities take part. All these extra-curricular opportunities strengthened my communication, team working and leadership skills, which I can now apply in my future career.

Study abroad year

Studying abroad was the best experience of my life. Choosing the University of Richmond in the USA was an easy choice; the small, private, campus-based university with around 3,000 students offered me a perfect environment to get to know as many people as possible, both international students and Americans.

Situated in an idyllic, picturesque location in the middle of a forest (the University even has its own lake!) yet just a stone's-throw away from vibrant Richmond, the University is an absolute perfect location for any study abroad student. From day one and during our International Orientation week everyone was open and approachable - it really was surprising how many nationalities were represented in only around 100 international students!

Although the teaching style and assessments are slightly different to the UK there is a lot of support available, and once you’ve settled in the whole way of life becomes second nature. I also found the smaller lecture sizes, typically around 25 students per class, both helped my learning and allowed me to get to know people really quickly which helped me feel a part of the Richmond community.

Studying abroad in the USA creates so many different travel opportunities, as hundreds of new experiences are literally on your doorstep. I also volunteered for Barack Obama’s visit to our campus and got to shake his hand at the end of his speech, which is something certainly not possible at Lancaster!

For me personally, there is no experience like studying abroad. Living in another country without your close friends and family develops your independence and confidence levels so much that by the end of your year, you feel you can take on anything. I also felt the experience broadened my knowledge of the world and allowed me to appreciate and experience other cultures first-hand. It really did change my life!

Placement year

I managed to secure a placement before studying abroad, which made the whole application process less stressful (and I didn’t have to worry about it whilst in the USA!). Joining Ernst & Young was my first experience of working for a “Big 4” professional services firm, which offered me a completely different environment to develop my skills in.

The nature of the work allowed me to work in relatively small teams on each project; I found throughout my entire year I never worked with the same person twice! Ernst & Young really promotes networking and building relationships with colleagues, and as a result I now feel better placed to make a decision regarding my graduate career.

I also had the opportunity to work on Ernst & Young’s largest project globally in Advisory, which as a placement student is absolutely fantastic. Everyone throughout my placement year has been genuinely interested in my development and all the placement students are treated as graduate employees.

Overall, working for Ernst & Young was challenging but rewarding. It is an amazing feeling when the work you produced is delivered to the client – I could really see how I was making a difference to the project! Not only did I build relationships with my colleagues but I have also made some friends for life. As more and more students are heading into higher education the job market is becoming incredibly competitive. Completing an Industrial Placement can be the first step towards a successful career.

My experience at LUMS has been life-changing. I came to Lancaster as quite a shy 18 year old and I have left as a different person. The quality of students and academic teaching at LUMS is outstanding and a credit to the University. Looking back, I find it hard to imagine choosing a better University to complete my four year degree at.

The LUMS Careers Team is dedicated to helping students to find an Industrial Placement or Graduate role. They run weekly drop-in sessions, and offer one-to-one appointments to which you can take your CV to be looked at by one of the professionals. The Careers Team also receives information from prospective employers about job opportunities that students can apply for. They run a “Placement Preparation” course for all placement students to prepare them for their Industrial Placements. Their help has been invaluable throughout my degree at Lancaster. 

After graduation I will be joining EY on their Consulting Graduate Scheme in London. The communication, problem solving, organisation, leadership and team working skills that I acquired during my time at LUMS will be invaluable in my new role. I am completely grateful for everything LUMS has helped me with, throughout my four years.