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Student Stories: Laura Ellis – Pursuing her career whilst studying

Meet Laura from Belfast, studying a BA in Business Management with the OU.   

She went through school ‘the usual way’, studying history, biology and ICT at A-Level. She then started a degree in Software Engineering at a traditional university but eventually decided it wasn’t for her. Over the next few years, she took some time out and worked in a coffee shop, working her way up to a management position. Eventually she hit a crossroads in her life. 

Laura explains “I had been doing the job for several years and felt that my only chance to progress would be to gain a qualification, but I also felt that I had stopped learning in my job as well and wanted a new challenge.” 

 “I have heard of a few people studying with the OU over the years and, as I had been working for so long, I liked the fact that I could continue to work and earn money whilst also studying.”   

Laura is still early in her studies, having completed her first year, but she is already beginning to see the benefits.  

“I was very fortunate that an internship popped up a few months into my study with the OU.  It was an HR internship with Datactics, which is such a perfect match, that was initially a 6-month contract, but they have kept me on after my contract ended.” 

“More than anything, the internship gave me motivation to keep going and do well with my studies – I could see what I was working towards and the potential for a career in Human Resources.” 

“I have gained so much knowledge that I wouldn’t have from studying one module alone – because it was an HR internship within a tech company, I have had exposure to a many different departments – many of which Business Management could lead to eventually (I work closely with Marketing and Finance and Project Management).  As of several months ago I received a permanent contract, so I’ve actually gained a permanent job from the internship!” 

Working in her internship whist studying has meant that Laura has been able to mix the practical with the theoretical. Her workplace, Datactics, have also been instrumental for her professional development. This has allowed her to both work flexibly and for her work experience to inform her learning.  

“My manager has been very supportive. She understands exactly what my course entails and has offered the company as a case study example should I ever need it for my studies. As I work closely with the finance team here too, our Finance Manager has offered to help as I work through my current Accounting Module”.  

Speaking about how she would sum up her OU story so far, Laura says, “It has been a rollercoaster. I feel so proud that I stuck at the work, even when it did get difficult or stressful, and when I received my result, it was all worth it! I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into my next module!” 


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Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Manager
Tel 028 9053 6219