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Tia Jones

Level 6 Engineering Management

Railacademy2019 124 8In

Tia Jones

Tia studies Engineering Management at Newcastle College University Centre. She Stepped Up to a degree after studying at Newcastle College. Find out what she has to say about her time learning with us.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, etc.?

I joined Newcastle College are Level 2 and have studied here ever since. For the entirety of Level 2 and 3, I was the only girl in my class because the six girls studying Rail and Civil in my year group were split up across different groups, so all of my classes were just me and twelve other boys. It was a bit strange at first, but I’ve just gotten used to it over the years.

Why did you choose to Step Up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?

For me, the application process was a lot easier than going through UCAS to apply somewhere else, since I was already a student here. My lecturers helped with the internal application process and talked to me about any questions I had about Steppin' Up to degree courses.

What was it about this course that made you want to progress onto a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?

After I completed my Foundation Degree, I realised that the jobs I really wanted to do required a Level 6 qualification, so I decided to continue at Newcastle College University Centre to specialise in Rail and Civil Engineering. Despite being a specialist course, the content is broad, versatile and adaptable enough for me to progress into both engineering and management at whatever point in my career I choose.

What benefits do you think there are in choosing to stay on to study at Newcastle College University Centre?

I already knew all the course lecturers and facilities at the Rail Academy. The University Centre offers small class sizes, so we get a lot more one-to-one guidance if we need it. The practical focus gives us way better skills and experience going into industry than similar courses elsewhere. I’ve already secured a job in the rail industry through a college promotion - I’m the only local graduate who my manager has taken on, and they're already lining me up for another position within the business once my contract ends in a few months.

What are the facilities like at the University Centre for your course and as a student?

I’ve always been based at the Rail Academy in Felling, so the main campus is much bigger than what I’ve been used to for the last five years, but I like its proximity to Newcastle town centre. The Rail Academy had every facility I needed for my course, so if I had a practical assessment, report or track work I could always do it there. As for the facilities at Rye Hill campus, the library is very comprehensive with a range of physical and online literature. I also enjoy exclusive degree student areas like the HE Hub or Parsons tenth floor as places to work or relax.

What do you enjoy the most about your degree?

I enjoy how my current degree course has pushed me out of my comfort zone a fair bit. Learning new and unfamiliar aspects of my subject area is a welcome challenge for me, although the greater depth for management-style projects can be tough sometimes. After all, I’ve been studying some variation of Rail and Civil Engineering for over five years now, so switching so late on is a real change of pace! That said, the amount of support I’ve received from my tutors and the HE Team have made me confident I can overcome whatever obstacles are thrown my way.

What inspires you?

My family. They’ve always been very supportive of my degree, especially considering some people might see my course as a bit out-of-the-box. I'm a bit of an oddity, really - no one in my family knows anything about the rail industry, I’m the only granddaughter on both sides, I’m this skinny 5’ 1” person, but I plan to go into engineering! I’m really glad to have the chance to make them proud… and also to prove the world wrong, just a little bit.

Tell us about how you have worked with industry whilst studying your degree (i.e. talks / live briefs / projects).

Our degree guest lecturers were really informative about industry trends and the different career avenues open to me. My current job is also good, since they want to keep me on in a different placement once I graduate. Plus, before my shift to a management degree this year, I was working zero hours contracts on track, including night shifts, alongside studying for my Foundation Degree. Without Newcastle College University Centre, I wouldn’t have had access to such practical, hands-on training in the rail industry, or such a supportive learning environment to prepare myself for my future career.

How do you think learning from industry-experienced tutors has benefitted you?

My tutors all have years of experience on the railways, so their tutelage has guided me towards securing the jobs I want. I’ve learnt a lot from their insights, which has helped me show off my knowledge and experience to interviewers. I’ve also learnt a lot more from the hands-on training and practical skills I’ve gained during my studies at the University Centre.

How would you describe the staff at the University Centre?

Everyone I’ve met has been helpful and incredibly understanding. Being dyslexic, I’ve struggled a bit more with certain types of work, but my tutors have appreciated that it’ll take me a bit longer to complete some tasks or projects, so my lecturers have all been quite lenient. Whenever I’ve needed some extra help with extensions, the HE Team have been a fantastic support network as well.

Have you overcome any challenges either before or whilst studying your degree?

Always! The main one is just getting my work in on time. Ever since Level 2 I've gone out of my way to complete and submit every assignment very early on, so I’m not always stressed about missing deadlines. I’ve had lots of help from members of staff in Rail and Civil and staff based on the main campus throughout my degree, which has made my concerns easier to manage.

What kinds of support have you received during your studies?

I see the HE Support Team regularly. Because of my dyslexia, they proofread my work before submission and helped me understand how to write up my work in the style the module guides request. The biggest help they give me is helping me sort through my written work whenever I have assignments. I really couldn’t thank them enough, since their support helped me to maintain the high standard of my work.

What has been the highlight of your time studying at Newcastle College University Centre?

Personally, it’d have to be meeting my partner at Newcastle College. We met on the same course at Level 2, and we’ve been together ever since.

What is Newcastle like as a student city, in your experience?

This might sound a little obvious, but it’s very student-y. The city feels very student-friendly and youthful overall. Even though the place can get really crowded at times – to the point where it almost becomes a nuisance! – I’d rather that than the city having no student appeal at all. As well as places to go work, or eat and drink, or just enjoy yourself, there are so many student events going on across Newcastle throughout the year that the city always has a really engaging social life, even though those events can get absolutely chocka!  

In what ways do you think your degree at Newcastle College University Centre has prepared you for employment?

Thanks to the University Centre promotions, I've already secured get industry work through the course and a job after I graduate - not to mention the great knowledge base, practical skills and experience I’ve gained while studying here! Be it for rail engineering or business management, my time at Newcastle College University Centre has made me confident that I’ve got everything I need to build a brilliant career in the rail industry moving forwards.

What are your plans after you graduate?

I’m planning on doing a Masters Degree through my workplace, since they can help to subsidise the costs for me. I’d love to study for a railway Masters since a lot of the jobs I’d like to aim for need that kind of qualification and I want to give myself the best chance to set out on my career. Beyond doing a Masters degree, I honestly haven’t got a clue for my plans immediately afterwards. Personally, I don’t think I should know for sure what I want to do moving forwards, since this way opens me up to more opportunities for studying.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about Steppin’ Up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre

That it’s totally worth it!

Describe your student experience in three words.

Stress, stress and more stress. I have really enjoyed my course, no doubt, but I stress easily, and doing a degree isn’t known for being easy! But I’ve loved the opportunities from my studies, as challenging as they may be.

What are your top 5 tips for Steppin’ Up at Newcastle College?

Be prepared

Revise if you have exams

Be confident in your skills

Cultivate good time management skills

Make sure to hand work in on time.