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Sean Connaughton

BA Management

'I found Birkbeck on the internet when I was looking for somewhere to study and I needed somewhere close to where I work, that would allow me to study part-time in the evenings.

'I left school at 16 and so when I got to my early thirties I felt there was a big gap between what was going on in the workplace and my understanding and knowledge. If I wanted to make myself employable I felt I needed a degree just to be on a level playing field with everyone else. At work it was halting my career as I didn’t understand some basic principles of accounting and HR practice, for example.

'The fact that Birkbeck was part of the University of London gave me confidence that it was a respected university that would be recognised if I go back to Australia, where I’m from.

'I think I had underestimated the level of work that you need to put in consistently over the course of your studies, and I found the pressure quite overwhelming initially. I had to learn to be structured, for example, Saturday was my free day and I did my studying on Sunday. 

'I wasn’t very well during my last couple of years and the lecturers were incredibly supportive to me. Their support gave me the energy to continue and complete my studies, and it was more than I had expected or hoped for.  My mother, who lives in Australia, was also very supportive and very pleased that I was going back to school to get a degree.

'My dissertation was called ‘All this has happened before and all this will happen again’ and reflected upon the recent financial crisis, going back through some of the authors of financial history, and looking back over the last 100 years, focusing on bank crises. I examined parallels and looked at cycles, how they kept repeating every few decades, and the economic and social devastation they cause.

'Intellectually, studying at Birkbeck has given me greater structure, and a better understanding of economic models, how finance works, the law etc. Going through the learning process gives you the tools to solve problems and work through processes. I can see the difference between where I was 20-30 years ago and where I am now, and I understand the role education has played in that. 

'Because of the variety of courses, because it’s in the evening and because of the genuine support lecturers provide in times of need I would definitely recommend Birkbeck.'

Find out more about our management courses.

'Because of the genuine support lecturers provide in times of need I would definitely recommend Birkbeck.'