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Seeing It All

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories.

irene-ctoriIrene Ctori has been an undergrad student, a postgrad student, a doctoral student and is now a lecturer at City University. How’s that for student satisfaction? We met Irene to find out why City was the only place for her.

Tell me about your time at City?
I started at City in 1991 when the Optometry course was taught in the Dame Alice Own building. I only visited the main building for the student union and my maths class. I was quite academically focused and so I kept my head down but my best memory was during my third year. Third year optometry students are given the opportunity to work with real patients and I remember thinking ‘Oh my goodness! I’m really doing this!’

I didn’t have a computer so throughout my course I hand wrote everything, including my dissertation. It was around 10,000 words. Someone then typed it up for me. And nothing was available online at the time, so we had to look at lots of books and buy them too.

What happened after you gradated the first time?
I was invited to do a PhD but I said no because I wanted to practice my trade. I practiced until 2008, including working at Vision Express, then at Whipps Cross University Hospital.

In 2008 I picked up where I left off. I started my MSc and was really enjoying my time at City but I wanted to be involved in the teaching, so I became a clinical tutor for third year students. That led to becoming more involved with teaching first and second years – all whilst juggling being a mum and still working at the hospital.

So what happened after your second graduation?
After graduating again I knew I wanted to do teaching and research full time. After being awarded a scholarship from City I did my PhD and became a full time lecturer last year.

What’s being a lecturer like?
I love being a lecturer. I really enjoy being able to bring my clinical experience into my lectures and using technology in my teaching. The students enjoy it too. And I’m colleagues with people who lectured me. Ron Douglas is one of them – I used to be scared of him but he’s lovely! I’ve also turned into my personal tutor. She used to walk around the lab telling us to have ‘good housekeeping’. I do that now – it’s like when you become your parents!

How has Optometry at City changed?
We don’t handwrite everything now!

What has been the biggest challenge throughout your time at City?
Lecturer posts are not easy to come by. Not many institutions teach optometry. And I wanted to teach at City because I’m happy here. Getting funding for a PhD was not easy either. And juggling everything during my masters was a challenging time.

What has been the most rewarding experience?
Completing my PhD was a real highlight. But getting the lecturer post – that’s what I was aiming for.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Just do it. Put your mind to it. Keep going with it and work hard. Be benevolent and have self-belief.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!

Favourite place in London: Islington
Favourite holiday: Cyprus
Must check website: theguardian.com
Dream Holiday: Amalfi Coast, Italy
Cheese or Chocolate: Both!

Weavee-ing Your Future Career

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, City News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News.

DSC_1105In 2015 James Grant completed a BSc in Computer Science with Games Technology. He acquired not only a 2.1, but also three years of professional experience. It gave him the ‘edge [he] needed to build Weavee. Weavee is a career platform that doesn’t just help people to get the job they want, it helps them to discover what they can do. Here James tells us how his time at City equipped him to build the platform of the future.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

The defining part of my time at City University was undertaking the Professional Pathway scheme, a scheme that gave me the chance to gain three years work experience in addition to my degree. The professional pathway has informed all I do now.

At the start of the scheme, I joined the web development team at City University for a year, which is where I learned most of the web skills I have today. I then moved on to a new role with Euromoney in my second year, where I set up and ran a graduate scheme later progressing on to a startup called Bar Pass for four months and onto a contract with BOAT international for five months. My final placement was with Hays recruitment for five months.

Because of the various positions I held, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I left university. I wanted to build a business.

How did the idea for Weavee come about?

I was originally building a social network for my dissertation and during that time I considered the idea of scaling it outside of a university, however after pitching the idea at several startup communities it was clear that there is more to building a business than having an idea.

Throughout the employment process I found I was always facing the same process; put my CV in as many places as possible and hope that a job suiting my skills came up. It became increasingly harder even though my skills were developing. I figured that if I was having problems with an expanding CV, what was happening to the emerging talent just leaving University?

It was only during my time at Hays, where I was positioned inside the recruitment system that I considered the ineffective way recruitment agencies work. With UK recruitment agencies costing businesses an average of £4,000 per placement and successful appointment taking approximately three months, there is a lot of room for improvement. The situation won’t get better unless someone does something.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to Weavee?

In the short time that I have been working on Weavee (a mere nine months!), I have learned so much. The constant challenge hasn’t been the creation of the business; instead, it was being able to reach the right people able to advance the business.

At each stage, I have had to choose between building the business and networking. The former has taken priority and now each networking event is an opportunity for me to share Weavee’s progress to try to gain support. So far this strategy seems to work!

What has been the most rewarding experience?

To see how my actions have influenced others is really rewarding – we have some of the stories up on our Weavee blog.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Building a startup is tough. I wouldn’t suggest doing it unless you have some work experience and also a holistic understanding of the problem you are looking to solve. Having experienced first hand (and from various perspectives) the situation I am solving, I can understand the problems each person might face. This means I am better equipped to solve the problem in a balanced way. Only through experiencing the situation can you better understand why the situation exists, be able to appeal to stakeholders and solve the problems they have.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!

Favourite place in London:  St Paul’s
Favourite holiday destination:  Florida
Must-check every day website: Mashable.com
Dream travel destination:  Outer space
Cheese or chocolate: Cheese

If you would like to find out more about Weavee or get involved with their latest project WeaVR, please visit weavee.co.uk or connect with James via LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Finding a Passion; Lost in the City

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, City News.

Journalism graduate (1986) turned professional photographer, Nicholas Sack has just released his new photo book ‘Lost in the City’. Here he tells us what led him to photography and the concept behind his latest book.

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I had edited the student newspaper whilst I was an undergraduate at Aston University. When I came to City in 1985 the Journalism Department was in a building on the corner of Skinner Street, on the floor above music rehearsal rooms. The sounds would intermingle – the clatter of manual typewriters and the tinkling of pianos – to create a symphony for Olivetti and Bechstein.

Our shorthand teacher was the legendary Harry Butler, who had written the definitive guide to Teeline and helped to decode Samuel Pepys’ own personal shorthand. He was a fearsome character; woe betide any student arriving even 15 seconds late for his lesson. Young women wept with frustration, but we all passed our 100 words-per-minute test at the end of the year.

What happened after you graduated?

I was already photographing for trade magazines between lectures. Photography was my hobby and when I graduated I decided to make a real go of it, to make it my living. I worked as a freelance for 30 years: mainly corporate commissions, portraits of the movers and shakers of commerce and industry in their working environments. This formality was spiced with more colourful assignments: record covers, outdoor clothes in Arctic Sweden, and the redevelopment of London’s docklands in the 1980s for construction and business magazines. I no longer accept commissions, and instead continue my personal projects for exhibitions and books. ‘Uncommon Ground’ was published in 2004, and here now is ‘Lost in the City’.

How did the idea for ‘Lost in the City’ come about?

I live close to central London and have been photographing in the Square Mile for 30 years. I was first struck by the collision of architecture – a Wren church slap-bang next to a tower of glass and steel – and I soon became interested in the office workers in the streets and alleys. Even in crowds they can appear isolated and estranged, scurrying from work-station to sandwich bar beneath overpowering buildings.

In my pictures I avoid tourist landmarks, words on fascias, slogans and logos: I aim to capture a state of other-worldliness, where figures seem strangely dislocated. The camera reveals surprising details: in a frozen moment the alpha-males marching along past the Bank of England have their heels on the pavement and toes pointing upward in a balletic pose.

bank of england

Last year I decided it was time to edit these thousands of pictures for a book, and Martin Usborne at Hoxton Mini Press was keen to publish it. He immediately saw a film-noir quality in these photos – Iain Sinclair notes a connection with Hitchcock in his introduction – and Martin rejected any pictures that included people smiling or looking happy. The City is a serious place; there is a sexual tension in some of these pictures, too.

What has been the biggest challenge with regards to ‘Lost in the City’?

It was a challenge to whittle down the pictures for a book of just 60 images. The editing was a collaboration with the publisher and the designer. We didn’t always agree, but I think we each brought creative ideas to the final selection.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Well, I was thrilled when Iain accepted our invitation to write the intro because he has been a literary hero of mine for many years. And it was nice to have a piece in the Observer when the book was launched. I am interested in book design and printing; I involved myself in all the stages of production and learned a lot. I shoot on film, so scans were made of my prints, then tweaked for the book printers in China: the ability to control minute details is fascinating. For example, to enhance local contrast in one particular image we zoomed in on the computer and darkened the shin of a woman walking on the opposite side of the street.

But really, the most rewarding experiences are out there in the streets, taking the pictures. When everything coheres in the viewfinder – the people, the buildings, the street furniture, the shadows – you feel a surge of adrenaline and press the button.
crowd
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Photography is a most fascinating medium: it’s both cerebral and emotional. I think the best way to understand and learn about pictures is to look at the masters – in books, at exhibitions, and in the Print Room at the V&A, where you consult the catalogue, fill in a slip, and prints by the photographer of your choice are delivered to your desk. This is where I gained a visual education, by studying the great American photographers like Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan and Henry Wessel. What gives a photograph its power to move the emotions? Is it the subject? The composition? The tones or colours? Searching for the answer is a wonderful exploration.

Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!
Favourite place in London: The Black Friar pub: ornate art nouveau interior and good beer.
Favourite holiday destination: Chicago, a slightly old-fashioned American city.
Must-check every day website: Charlton Athletic Football Club. I’ve been a suffering supporter for 51 years.
Dream travel destination: San Francisco, for the topography of hills and bays.
Cheese or chocolate: Say ‘Cheese’!

 

Lost in the City by Nicholas Sack is published by Hoxton Mini Press in standard and collector’s editions. 

 

Header image: © Timothy Cooke

All other images: © Nicholas Sack

Discovering Grace

Alumni Notice Board, Alumni Stories, Arts and Social Sciences News, City News.

Meet Jocelyn RobJocelyn Robsonson, the City alumna who coincidentally found the story that became her debut book whilst studying Creative Writing here at City. Read Jocelyn’s interview to learn how the journey of finding the story became a story in its own right. 

Tell me about your time at City!

In 2008 I started the Creative Writing (Non-fiction) MA course so I could learn to use the techniques of fiction to tell a true story. At the time, I was working at London Metropolitan University as a researcher for the Institute of Policy Studies in Education and I really wanted a change of direction.

I had always wanted to write but I was never sure how I could make a living from it. A short time after starting the course I came across Grace’s story. I had seen some old photographs of girls in a gymnasium and wondered where they were and what they were doing. I soon found out that the girls were attending a technical education school in London and that the first of these Trade Schools for Girls had been founded in the 1900s. I read that someone called Grace Oakeshott had been the driving force behind them. But in an academic article about these schools, there was a footnote that said Grace had drowned at the age of 35 – and it made me think ‘what a tragic waste of life’.

How did this become a story?

Later I found an online review of a play entitled ‘Grace’. The play was about a woman called Grace Oakeshott who had staged her own death and run away to New Zealand. The playwright, Sophie Dingemans, claimed to be Grace’s great granddaughter and she said her play was based on fact.

I immediately began to wonder if this woman was the same as the one I was interested in. Was the footnote wrong? Had Grace not drowned after all? I started to Google. I then contacted the theatre company in New Zealand where the play had been performed and was put in touch with Sophie who in turn put me in touch with her mum, Cherry. Though Grace had assumed a new name in New Zealand, Sophie and her family had always known who their relative really was.

Cherry told me she was the daughter of Tony, one of Grace’s sons. I’m actually a New Zealander myself and when I was there a couple of months later for a conference Cherry met me at the airport. She took me to a cemetery in a small town in Hawke’s Bay and showed me the grave of someone called Joan Leslie Reeve. ‘That woman is the person you know as Grace Oakeshott’, she said.
By this time the story was getting exciting and I was struggling to balance my first year coursework with all the research I had to do. And I still had to decide how to write my book. I didn’t want to write Grace’s story in an academic way nor did I want it to be a dull story about education for girls, so I read lots to get ideas!

Coming to the end of my MA I was required to write 60,000 words which is about two thirds of a book. I told my tutor I wasn’t ready to write that much especially as there were moments when the story was turned on its head by the things I found out. In the end I didn’t complete my Masters but I left with a Post Graduate certificate. I wasn’t too bothered about the qualification because for me it was about the experience, the writing practice and the opportunity to meet others.

I was fortunate that the story and the opportunity to write it came along together.

What was writing your book like?

I left my post at London Metropolitan University in 2009. I wanted to write the book and so I treated it like a job and became a full time writer. My academic experience,meeting deadlines and expectations, helped me to structure my time. I spent 5 years researching and made some significant trips; to Fort Simpson and Fort Rae – where Walter Reeve, the man Grace ran away with, was born.

I thought of them as field trips and I also found more members of Grace’s family, and the descendants of those who had been left behind. I discovered that Walter had trained to be a doctor at Guy’s Hospital and that he knew Grace was married (to Harold Oakeshott) when he first met her. I found out that William, Walter’s father, had lived in Islington before he moved to Canada and that Grace was 1 of 4 children born in Hackney. I found out about Grace’s siblings, who her brother had married and the names of their children.

Not everybody wanted to talk to me but those who did were very helpful. I found a daughter of Grace’s great nephew on the electoral roll. I wrote to her and to my delight, she put me in touch with her parents. A short time later, I was able to meet the family in Kent. The night before my visit I was too excited to sleep! They shared their memories and family papers with me. I also traced the children and grandchildren from Harold’s second marriage – and found that one of his granddaughters lived only a short distance from me!

I had a wonderful time and I learned as much about the social history as I did about the people. It was more fun than anything I’ve ever been paid to do and the story of finding the story was as much fun as the story itself.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The structure was very challenging – trying to keep everyone’s story in chronological order and making the links between the characters clear.

What has been the biggest reward?

The way the book took me back to New Zealand where I was born and brought up. I was able to find out about my country in a different way and when I went back in March it was like bringing the two parts of my life together through the story of Grace’s life.

Any advice to others looking to follow in your footsteps?

Find a story that moves you, a subject that you feel passionate about.

Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!

Favourite place in London: Hampstead Heath
Favourite holiday destination: Iceland
Must-check every day website: BBC
Dream travel destination: Yosemite
Cheese or chocolate: Chocolate

Jocelyn’s book ‘Radical Reformers and Respectable Rebels’ is out now and available to purchase from Amazon

Working in the USA

Alumni Notice Board, Arts and Social Sciences News, Careers, Cass Business School News, City Graduate School, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.

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On Thursday 23rd June 2016, we hosted our fourth alumni careers webinar. The topic was “Working in the USA”, and focussed on the next steps you need to take to work and live in the USA.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 50 mins.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk

How to Effectively Use Recruitment Agencies

Alumni Notice Board, Arts and Social Sciences News, Careers, Cass Business School News, City Graduate School, Health Sciences News, Law News, Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering News, Webinars.

efectively use recruitment

On Thursday 21st April 2016, we hosted our third alumni careers webinar. The topic was “How to Effectively Use Recruitment Agencies”, and focussed on the importance of building a good relationship with a recruiter.

This webinar was recorded and is now available here. Running Time 39 mins.

 

 

Considering a career change? Consider Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme!

Alumni Notice Board, Events.

Teach First banner

In the UK today, the link between how much your family earn and how well you do in school and in life is stronger than almost anywhere in the developed world. It doesn’t have to be this way

Teach First are a charity working to end educational inequality. They believe that inspirational teaching and leadership is key to helping every child succeed, regardless of their background. Teach First supports people like you to become revolutionary teachers on their Leadership Development Programme (LDP) in schools across England and Wales.

The LDP is a personalised two-year programme encompassing high-quality training, supportive coaching, and a PGCE qualification. You’ll retrain as a teacher in one of our partner schools, and whether or not you decide to remain in the classroom, the experience and skills you’ll gain will change your life, and theirs.

They’re looking to expand their reach and place more life-changing leaders into Early Years, primary and secondary schools throughout the UK’s poorest communities.

They are hosting a series of presentations exclusively for anyone considering changing career to join their LDP. Their employer presentations will give you the chance to find out more about teaching on the LDP, get your questions answered by their Experienced Hires team, and find out how you can apply for a place in their 2016 cohort.

Visit their website to learn more about the LDP and to book your place today.

Change career. Change lives.

Making the most of your time at City

Alumni Notice Board, City News.

London Skyline

City University London’s location in the heart of the City of London offers students a wide range of unique opportunities. Georgia Skupinski studied International Politics and Sociology at City and graduated in the summer of 2015. Here is her advice for students joining us this academic year:

Favourite area of London

I have so many favourite areas of London and they’re all so different and diverse, so make sure you explore everywhere you can. Portobello Market is fabulous on the weekend, take a hike up Primrose Hill or the Royal Greenwich Observatory for some great views. Explore the parks, most of them have boats in the summer which are really fun. The museums are free, take advantage of them. The Maritime, Imperial War and the National History museums are my personal favourites. Experience amazing food at Brick Lane market on the weekend, enter the lottery at the theatre – you may win free tickets, go for a run along the South Bank.

London is a city of opportunity, so make sure you make the most of it.

Favourite part of the City campus and place to study

My favourite part of the City campus is the College Building. It’s such a beautiful building and it holds so much history, look it up – the Great Hall was once where the Olympic Boxing was held. I love the College Common room for studying in between lectures, but I am a massive fan of the sixth floor of the library. Everyone respects the ‘silence’ rule and it’s a great place to go and focus.

If you need to do group work, the library has plenty of group study areas that you can book out. I found this really great – far better than trying to coordinate a group study or presentation in a noisy public café.

Places to go for a night out

Locally to City there is a Propaganda held on Friday and Saturday nights which is always a great night out and not too expensive. If you’re considering a more central location, there’s Tiger Tiger, Piccadilly Institute, Loop Bar and Sway – they’re always suitably busy and play everything from chart to 70’s/80’s/90’s music. Camden Koko, in fact the majority of Camden, is great for an alternative night out. If you’re over 21, Infernos in Clapham is a great night for cheesy music. There are so many places to go in London to suit everybody and I recommend the Design My Night website to find the type of night to suit you.

Places to eat

My favourite restaurant is Cafe La Divina on Upper Street, just up the road from City. It’s a great little independent Italian restaurant and the food is delicious while reasonably priced. Oblix in the Shard is also amazing – not so reasonably priced but is great for special occasions, I went there after my graduation.

Places to go for a drink

My favourite bar is either Dirty Martini in Liverpool Street or Madison which is a rooftop bar overlooking St. Paul’s. There are so many bars with great locations in London, so make sure you explore.

Coffee shops

I’m a creature of habit, so my favourite coffee shop is Starbucks, it’s consistently good everywhere I go. However they have managed to bag themselves so many great locations around the City, my favourite being the one in St Katherine Docks overlooked by Tower Bridge. You can sit there and watch the boats go in and out, it’s a really lovely location.

Hidden gems around campus

Tinseltown – I don’t know anyone who hasn’t ended up there at 3am after a heavy night of revision. It’s a short walk from Northampton Square, it’s open until really late and you can eat all the American diner food your heart desires. Nando’s in Angel is also great as City students get 20% off.

There are plenty of great places in Angel to eat – definitely take a walk down Camden Passage and Exmouth Market, both are really close to the University.

Advice for new students starting in September

Your time at University isn’t just about what you learn academically, it’s about you whole personal experience from learning to do your laundry, making new friends, dealing with personal issues and setbacks, to striking the work/social balance. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get it right the first, second or even third time – you will eventually.

Don’t hesitate to ask for support, go and see your personal tutor or the nurse, mental health nurse if you can feel yourself slipping. University life can be a massive change and City is here to support you.

The careers service is amazing, make sure you use it. I didn’t in my first year so I ended up cramming a million appointments into my last two years.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your future post-City. Think about filling out your summers with internships, you’ll thank yourself when you’re applying for full-time employment or further study after University. Also, see what part-time employment City has to offer. Unitemps and the Ambassador schemes have been a lifesaver for me financially and I’ve really enjoyed myself.

I have absolutely loved my time at City. Your time here goes so fast and I believe that is because I have enjoyed it so much. City promotes such a friendly environment and everyone is very welcoming. As soon as I saw Northampton Square I fell in love and I am sure you will too. I have a lot to thank City for and I hope that you are able to share the same experience.

Meeting new people and make friends

The best way to make friends is to completely throw yourself into everything and attend every event that you can find. Don’t worry if you haven’t found someone to go with, the chances are that the majority of people there won’t know anyone either.

You can also join a sports club or society. You’ll find people here that you have things in common with and that’s a great way to bond. I also recommend the Ambassador Scheme again, as I have made so many friends through this.

Post by Nicola Ranson, Communications Officer

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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