Honours Project Posters, November 2016

Yesterday we celebrated another cohort of students finishing their Honours Projects, and it was great to see the results of their work proudly on display. The Honours Project is a substantial individual piece of work and acts as a ‘portfolio piece’, showing the skills and abilities students have developed during their studies. This cohort of students undertook the year-long industry placement between 2nd and 3rd year, and most of them re-visited their placement for their Projects, and based their work on live business technology projects.

Well done, all!

Caitlyn and Sophie in front of their Honours Project posters
Caitlyn and Sophie in front of their Honours Project posters
Gavin and Maciej explain their work to Prof Hazel Hall
Gavin and Maciej explain their work to Prof Hazel Hall
Group Selfie - left to right, Gavin Whyte, Prof Hazel Hall, Dr Colin Smith, Caitlyn Adair, Sophie McMillan, Maciej Korpak, Fenton Ho, Steven Ritchie, Marta Stachon, and BSc BIS Leader Jyoti Bhardwaj
Group Selfie – left to right, Gavin Whyte, Prof Hazel Hall, Dr Colin Smith, Caitlyn Adair, Sophie McMillan, Maciej Korpak, Fenton Ho, Steven Ritchie, Marta Stachon, and BSc BIS Leader Jyoti Bhardwaj
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Scott’s summer placement as a ‘Growth Hacker’ at Skyscanner

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Hello Scott, can you tell me about yourself?

Sure, I’m Scott Grigor and I’m originally from Aberdeen. I started studying BSc Computing at Edinburgh Napier in 2013, but quickly decided it wasn’t for me – there was too much coding! Luckily, I was able to transfer onto BSc Business Information Systems, which was attractive because it’s still has the technology focus, but it’s more about design, planning and management.

Where were you on summer placement?

I was on summer placement with Skyscanner, working in a team called the ‘Traveller Communication Squad’. Basically, we’re in charge of email marketing, push notifications and price alerts, all to make sure that the company is keeping in touch with the customer base.

How did you find the summer placement?

Well, for a start I knew that I wanted one well before I started applying! I’d decided not to do the year long placement that’s an optional part of my course, and so I had my eye on the summer between 3rd and 4th year to get an experience that would look good on my CV. I considered applying for summer camp in the US before hearing about Skyscanner’s internship programme. Skyscanner are probably one of the best known and regarded companies in the tech sector in Scotland, so I was interested straight away. I filled out the online application form last November, then waited until the following March when I had a Skype interview. I was asked along to an assessment centre at the company’s offices straight afterwards. There, we had to work on a group presentation, complete some individual tasks and then have a one-to-one interview. I was one of the lucky ones who was got the job!

Tell us about your role

My job title was ‘Growth Hacker’. Everything at Skyscanner is done along ‘lean’ and ‘agile’; principles, aimed at getting good work done quickly. Growth Hackers help to grow the number of users of the website by trying out new things, quickly! Our focus is on activating user interest, acquiring them as customers and retaining them as loyal users of the website into the future.

I worked on a few projects, two of the main ones were the Skyscanner Forum, where our goal was to increase use of the discussion forum on the website, and a Web Development project, where we had to design and implement some functionality on the website for product price alerts.

How do you think the experience will help you, once you graduate?

I already had some work experience via a part-time supermarket job, but the summer placement is something I’m really proud of and I’m making a lot of it on my CV. I feel that I’ve had a valuable chance to put my skills into practice during my studies – and learnt some good skills and industry practices on top. Getting the chance to do this while working in one of Scotland’s highest profile companies was great. I’ve met lots of new people and made good contacts, and I’ve got lots to talk about in future job interviews. And one of the best outcomes so far is that I’ve been kept on at Skyscanner for a part-time role in the final year of my degree, so it’s goodbye to supermarket shifts! It’s all been very valuable.

How do you feel about the future?

Positive! Now that I’ve had the summer placement I feel that I’ve got experience which puts me in a good position for applying for graduate jobs. And I’ve already been through a lot of the recruitment processes that big companies use, so I feel like I know the ropes.

Can you sum up your placement in three words?

Challenging, rewarding and fun.

Steven – from a summer placement to a graduate job offer

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Q. Hi Steven – can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m studying the BSc Business Information Systems degree in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. I’m actually a mature student – I started studying Chemistry at another university but I didn’t like the course and left. I then worked with SKY for a while, first in customer services and then eventually I was able to get involved in some interesting cross-team project work, which I really enjoyed. I decided that if I wanted to get a permanent graduate position doing that kind of work I’d need to get a relevant degree, and that’s what led me to the BSc Business Information Systems.

Q. Where were you on summer placement?

I’ve just finished a ten week placement with RBS.

This is the second placement I’ve done during the Business Information Systems degree. The first was a year-long placement between second and third year – I was able to gain course credit for that one, as well as having a great experience and getting paid! The summer placement at RBS between third and fourth year gave me even more experience  – and was also very well paid!

Q. How did you find your summer placement?

We’ve got a placement office on-campus, and Maureen Ronaldson sends emails out to students about summer placement opportunities and can usually answer any questions or give advice before applying. So, the first I heard about the RBS placement was through an email from Maureen. I had already decided to look for a summer placement so it was a case of the right message coming through at the right time.

There was an online application form, and then I had a telephone interview. Finally, I was asked to go along to an assessment centre (which was quite interesting) and then I got the job.

Q. Tell us about the role

My placement was on RBS’ Business Technology programme, and my position was Operational Analyst in the Technology Solutions Centre. This centre controls the main technical infrastructure for the bank, the mainframes and distributed servers that support all of the banking operations. It was my job to help monitor these systems.

The role was actually very varied. There was day-to-day monitoring of how the systems are being used in the business – who is accessing the systems, when, and how data files that are of high importance to the bank are being used. I also helped analyse and present data, taking raw numbers and turning them into infographics to explain how our systems are performing. I had to write a process document to help manage a process change, and that meant doing a lot of internal networking to get information from all the people who would be involved in the change, that was a good experience. And because I’m interested in security, I was able to get involved in some of that side of things.

Q. How will the experience help you once you’ve graduated?

Immensely – at the end of the summer placement I was offered a place on the RBS graduate scheme, without having to go through any further interviews or assessment centres!

RBS, like a lot of other big employers, are able to use the summer placement as an ‘extended audition’, and on the last day all of the interns find out whether they are being offered a position after they graduate. Many do – and I’m very pleased to say that I am one of them. I had a great time at RBS during the summer and I’m really looking forward to joining the graduate scheme once I finish my degree.

Q. How do you feel about the future?

Very optimistic and excited. Before summer, I had been a bit anxious about my final year at university, knowing that I’d have a lot of work to complete for my degree while also feeling the pressure to apply for graduate jobs – which can take a lot of time and effort. Now that I’ve secured my graduate job, I feel that I can concentrate on my studies without feeling anxious about what’s coming next.

Q. Sum up your placement in three words!

Best. Decision. Ever.

Keeping up to date with SAP

Large organisations need advanced software to help manage their operations, and the market leader in this field is SAP, a suite of software applications that can help businesses manage raw materials, and organise production, marketing and sales (and much more!) – all from a single point. SAP software is used across many sectors – from car manufacturing and aerospace through to healthcare and even by media companies and supermarket chains.

This week I’ve been at the 21st SAP Academic Conference in Potsdam, Germany – what a beautiful city. The event has allowed me to get up-to-speed with the latest developments from SAP, particularly SAP HANA, developed to help businesses better analyse and use the massive amounts of data they produce. Making the most of ‘Big Data’ – from detailed sales figures all the way to customer Tweets – is a huge priority for businesses.

We make sure our students understand some of the main techniques involved by exploring the data analysis and data exploration capabilities of SAP. Being part of the SAP University Alliance guarantees that we get access to SAP software and valuable case study material, enabling us to help students develop skills and knowledge that are in demand from employers.

Debbie Meharg, Lecturer, Information Systems Subject Group

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Getting ready to come back from placement – Maria

Q. Hi Maria – can tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Maria Oyegbile and I’m studying BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems. I joined the course 2014 as a second year student after completing my HND, and I’m now coming towards the end of the year-long work placement that we do between second and third year.

Q. Where are you on placement?
I’m with Caledonian Produce, part of the Bakkavor Group, located in Bo’ness, West Lothian. The company supplies prepared foods to Marks and Spencers, it employs over 1500 employees and it’s the biggest company I have ever worked for.

Q. Tell us about your role
I’m the site IT contact supported by the Group Central Information Systems team in Spalding. My role is very varied which makes it more interesting. It ranges from installation of software and hardware to networking, sorting out user errors in person or via proxy, maintenance of IT equipment like printers, scanners, phones and projectors, project management (my favourite), purchasing of IT equipment, working with third party contractors to resolve user issues, closely working with group IT to resolve issues, training staff in using IT equipment, writing user manuals and carrying out the company IT induction, setting up user company mobiles and desk phones, changing the back-up tapes among others.

Q. It sounds like you’ve been doing a lot in the past year! How will this help your studies when you come back?
This experience has been very rewarding and beneficial, I have learnt so much in one year. It’s helped me to better understand what I studied at university before placement and now I have both the practical and academic knowledge. For example I now understand things like Intranets and Extranets even more after having studied them in one of the modules (Enterprise Systems) in 2nd year.

I’ve also gained confidence in dealing with various individuals and groups of peoples on various levels. I’ve worked on different projects like the file and print server migration, Installation of Internet Explorer 11, upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, installation of programs on to Virtual servers among others with different managers, individuals and teams. I have had to communicate with them in person, on the phone and also via email and my confidence has grown immensely.

Q. Do you think the experience will help you once you’ve graduated?
I have learnt so much throughout my placement and I believe the skills I have acquired will help me secure a good job after my studies. I have learnt how to be professional, deal with various people, address a large group of people, chair meetings, prepare agendas, and send out minutes among other things.

Q. What support do you have from the University while you were on placement?
I got help even before I applied! I attended placement workshops which encouraged me to apply for placement, placement jobs were well advertised on the university site and also e-Placement Scotland. I got help structuring my CV and also training in interview skills and techniques.

When out on placement, I was assigned a tutor for the duration, Gemma Webster, who has come out to visit me and meet my manager. It was good to know that I have someone I can discuss any work issues with if I needed to. I also have support from Moodle, the university site. There is lots of information that has been put on Moodle to help with the weekly log, portfolio and reports. This information was helpful especially during the initial stages of creating my web log.

Q. What support do you have from your employer?
On site I am fully supported by my manager who is very easy to talk to and work with. We regularly have meetings to catch up on any issues or projects that are happening.

I am also fully supported by the Central IS Team in Spalding. Teams range from Infrastructure, Technical Delivery, Desktop Support, Applications Support, Project Managers and Business Analysts among others. They all provided support depending on the sort of issues being dealt with at the time. On occasions, various teams have come on site to help me with ongoing projects like the file and print server migration project.

Q. Sum up the experience in 3 words?
Fantastic, hard work and worthwhile.

Thanks Maria – and we’re looking forward to having you back on campus!

More about work placements in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing.

Postgrad open evening: 6th April, 2016

MSc in Business Information Technology

Edinburgh Napier University is running a postgraduate open evening 5-7pm on 6 April, 2016.

If you’re looking for a change in direction, or to add a business or information systems strand to your skillset – come and talk to me to find out about our MSc in Business Information Technology. We’ll be at Merchiston Campus.

We’re currently recruiting for a September 2016 start – full-time and part-time degrees available.

Come and talk to us on Wednesday 6th April.

Peter Cruickshank
Peter Cruickshank

Peter Cruickshank
Programme leader, MSc Business Information Technology

Ailie’s favourite subject? Cyberpsychology

What first attracted you to the BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) course?

Ailie
Final year BIS student, Ailie
I was initially attracted to the BIS course because it was a course that allowed me to study computing but without being heavy with technical modules. I’d been keen on studying computing since the middle of high school but when it came to selecting a specific computing course to study at university I struggled. When I started university I was on another computing course and after doing programming modules I realised that that course was not for me. I researched what other course were available and discovered BIS, it quickly became apparent that BIS offered exactly what I wanted and then switched at the end of first year.

What has been your favourite subject on BIS?
This is difficult as I’ve enjoyed aspects of almost every subject that I’ve studied but I think my ultimate favourite would have been cyberpsychology. Cyberpsychology was a bit different from the other classes that I studied, it looked at the evolution of humans and their capabilities and limitations when interacting with technology it was incredibly interesting.

What makes the BIS course different from other courses?
BIS is different from other courses as it has a balance of both technical and business focused classes. You have classes where you are quite technically focused such as databases and others where you look at business models and other business techniques, it provides you with a very diverse skillset.

Does BIS have anything to do with real life?
Yes! BIS has everything to do with real life. As someone who has been looking for a graduate job recently it has become glaringly obvious how relevant BIS is. Most graduate jobs/programs within IT are of course looking for candidates that have technical skills but also emphasise that candidates are required to have excellent communication skills, team working skills and project management skills, all of which are developed throughout the BIS course.

Was there ever a point when you felt like giving up? What made you carry on?
Yes, there definitely have been times when I have felt like this. For the most part it’s been self-inflicted and because I’ve left coursework to the last minute as I’d underestimated its difficulty or been absorbed in a Netflix series. Then I end up sitting the night before its due wanting to give up but I’ve always carried on. I think this is because I know how badly I want my degree, I’ve done my fair share in terrible part time jobs and anytime I want to give up I think about them and realise how badly I want a successful career and a job that I love.

Would you recommend BIS?
I would, I’d recommend it to anyone like myself who is interested in technology but not passionate about programming or other techy elements. Even those who are more business minded would most likely enjoy and benefit from BIS as the skills that are gained are so desirable to employers.

How has BIS helped you to fulfil an ambition?
I’ve always wanted a job that I look forward to getting out of bed in the morning for, one that really excites me and doesn’t get mundane after a matter of weeks. BIS has given me the skillset to secure a place on a graduate program that looks like it will do just that, I personally feel that the uniqueness of the course really helped me stand out at interviews and assessment centres. The course has lots of modules that involve groupwork and project management which are really useful when answering competency based questions in interviews.

What good advice would you give to anyone starting university?
I’d advise anyone starting university to practise good time management from the beginning because it really does pay off. It will ensure that you are able to get any help that is needed from lecturers or resources that are required in enough time so that your mark is not sacrificed. It’s really beneficial especially in fourth year when you’re working on your honours project while having additional modules running at the same time that will have additional coursework’s and exams.

What are you doing now?
I’m currently in my final year so I am very busy just now. I will be handing in my final honours project and sitting my final exams within the next few months so everything’s a little bit chaotic and nerve wracking just now.

How do you feel about the future?
Excited! I really can’t wait to start my career! I’ve just accepted a place on the RBS graduate program so am really looking forward to beginning, it’s a little bit scary but I really do think it will make the past four years’ worth it!

Catching up with Aina

I’m Aina. Three things that could summarise me are: I am a kind, friendly and hard working person.

Aina
Recent BIS grad Aina

The range of subjects and the work placement opportunity is what attracted me the most to join the BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) course. My favourite subject was Database Systems, but I don’t believe that it is compulsory to be a geek to study on BIS. Prior to joining the course I had studied art, web design and had HNC in Administration and Information Technologies.

The course was challenging and allowed me to gain a lot of new knowledge which I believe makes me a more employable individual. The most important thing I’ve gained from studying on BIS has to be the work experience. I did a yearlong placement with the University of Edinburgh, which helped me a lot to develop both my professional and individual skills.

What makes the BIS course different from other courses is that it has a good balance of computing and business subjects. I believe that BIS has a lot to do with real life, mainly because the course not only arms students with computing knowledge but also gives a good insight into how real-life businesses operate. Therefore I believe that this course prepares students well to face challenges that may occur in the real working environment.

All of my fellow students were very friendly and supportive of each other. Perhaps Bence was the most intriguing fellow student as he seemed very quiet at the time I joined the course. However, after some time, I learned that he is very friendly and good at organising extra-curricular activities, which made our class so much closer. I wasn’t very silly at University but I once sat in on the wrong lecture. When I realised, I decided to leave the lecture so that I could go to the right one. However, the tutor spotted me and asked me why I was leaving, so I had to explain in front of the whole class. It was quite embarrassing.

There were several points throughout my studies that made me feel like giving up. However, I carried on with my studies because I believed that in order to achieve the goals that I have set for myself, I should finish the course. Therefore I did my best in all the modules I took, and I would recommend this course to others as I believe that it is a good course.

If I had to give single piece of advice to someone planning to study information systems, it would be: don’t panic if you don’t understand something. Tutors are there to help, it is better to clarify things that are unclear, for example in the assessment, than panicking and trying to complete an assignment that is unclear.

I’ve finished the BIS course and I feel good about the future. I had several companies contacting me and asking if I would like to submit my application with them. At the moment I have one job offer after passing the interview. However, I still have two assessment centres to complete. I am still weighing up my options in order to choose the right employment path for myself.

BIS grad and IT officer for Edinburgh International Festival, Dean

I was first attracted to BSc Business Information Systems (BIS) by the combination of IT and Business, it was a perfect fit for me as I didn’t feel like I wanted to be a programmer and I have analytical mind so the business modules were very exciting for me. It’s a hybrid course which I think is its strongest point.

Dean
Dean, IT officer for Edinburgh International Festival

I thoroughly enjoyed project management as it showed me the background to how a major IT project is carried out and inspired me for my dissertation.

It’s not compulsory to be a geek to study on BIS at all. In my year we had a wide range of people with lots of different personalities. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to work hard.

BIS allowed me to find a job within the city centre that I love – the only reason I got this job was because of the work placement I did in my 3rd year. I gained a lot of confidence throughout my 3rd year because of the work placement. That year helped shape me into the young professional I wanted to be. It also let me see that making mistakes is ok as long as you learn from them.

BIS is different from other courses. It’s a hybrid course, it covers Business and IT. It gives you a full view of the Business world and the IT world, which makes it a fantastic course.

My most intriguing fellow student I would say was Rebecca. She pushed and helped me more than anyone else and I hope I did the same for her. I remember twice actually wanting to give up the course – once was half through my 2nd year doing database systems; it was just far too difficult for me to comprehend. The reason I didn’t give up was because I remembered what our programme leader said at the start of the year, “When it really starts to get tough, that’s when you will find out the BIS students wrap their sleeves up and really work hard”. I stuck with the module and I passed.

I would recommend BIS. It’s a fantastic course with a wide range of interesting subjects. It helps shape you into a young professional and the lecturers are fantastic at what they do. You are given the support you need to be the best that you can be. My advice would be, if you’re going to do Honours, then prepare far ahead in advance as you will need to use your time wisely and diligently.

I’m currently the IT officer for Edinburgh International Festival. It’s a charity and the people are very lovely.