Katy James

Business Economics with a Professional Placement - BA (Hons)

Despite struggling with her mental health and spending 15 months in hospital, Katy has excelled with a placement year at Tetley Tea. With the support of the careers and wellbeing teams at BCU every step of the way, she’s now looking forward to starting a Master’s.

“Being diagnosed with a personality disorder causes intense mood swings which makes concentration and motivation difficult, so coming back to university following my placement at Tetley Tea was very difficult for me. My mental health deteriorated to a point where I had to be admitted into hospital for 8 months. Unfortunately, during my hospital stay, I suffered the loss of my Nan, who was more or less my mom growing up, which made me feel very alone. A year later, around my nans anniversary, I relapsed and got admitted for further 7 months.

Although this has been my biggest challenge yet, I was determined to finish my degree. The Wellbeing Team at BCU has provided excellent support through this time. The access to a mentor has helped me move past my difficulties and focus on my course. Despite my battle to manage my mental health, with BCU's support, I’ve now happily graduated and am moving on to study a Master’s.

I’ve always struggled with my mental health, and during my A Levels I had to re-sit my final year. Initially, I was worried that going to university would mean the loss of my support bubble but the Wellbeing Team reassured me that I had things in place to support my learning. They arranged extensions for coursework and exam time extensions, lecture materials were provided in advance as well as the access to mentoring. I also applied for the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). Using this meant I received a personalised needs assessment, which gave me access to specialist equipment to meet my personal needs.

The support from staff has been excellent, and I feel they have really helped me to flourish. The Careers+ team were constructive when reviewing my CV and helping me practise for interviews and assessment centres. With this guidance, I secured a placement as a Category Analyst at a top organisation – Tetley Tea. While at Tetley, I worked on a wide variety of projects, from preparing reports to presenting to supermarkets, as well as shopper marketing and demand planning. As my experience developed, I managed their Aldi and Lidl customs on my own, which was a considerable achievement.

There are so many opportunities at BCU to meet new people and celebrate your passions outside of your degree. For example, I became an Event Manager for the BCU Bright Futures Society and was elected as the Assistant Editor of The Scratch magazine in my second year. I was encouraged to express my creative side while growing in confidence and gaining experience to enhance my CV when applying to companies for my placement year. 

To me, I AM BCU means a sense of belonging and community whilst giving you the confidence to believe in yourself. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at BCU and feel I would be totally different without this community. I genuinely think, as a university, they are dedicated to providing opportunities to build your professional portfolio both in line with and outside of your degree. For me, it has not been easy, but being able to graduate with First Class Honours has certainly been worth it.”