A Computing and IT Degree with the Open University, Alexandra’s Story

Another great student story to add to our blog. In this post you can read about Alexandra’s story, who started studying for a Computing and IT Degree with the Open University at 23.

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A Computing & IT Degree with the Open University, Alexandra’s story

My name is Alexandra, 25, and I am originally from Hungary but I have been living in the UK for nearly 3 years. I started studying for a BSC HONS in computing IT with the Open University at 23, with some design modules too. As well as that, I am a recruitment consultant and an abstract painter.

Recruitment Consultant, artist, Open University Student

Here is my story with the Open University and how it helped me secure a job that brought me closer to my chosen career path. This was after I was trapped in an environment that inhibited my progress.

The beginnings, getting to know the Open University

It all started in 2020. I worked in a warehouse. A good friend of mine mentioned to me the OU while I was telling her about my future ambitions. I liked the idea of distance learning as I wanted to have a full-time job to earn money.

I was stunned by how many subjects the OU has, but I didn’t consider enrolling for a while. Mainly, I was scared of it as English is not my first language. I thought I would have difficulty getting a degree in English. Additionally, I was concerned about my ability to commit to this.

It was a hard year for me, not just because of the pandemic but also because of so many changes happening all at once. This included coming to the UK and recovering physically from an illness.  

The start, a Computing and IT Degree with the Open University

In 2020 in October I finally made up my mind to enrol in the Open University. I decided to
study my most desired subject, programming. In addition, I have chosen design as creating
takes a huge part of my life and means a lot to me.

My feelings were mixed with excitement and fear at the same time. To make a significant impact on my life, I knew I needed to make the necessary changes.

I bought all my supplies in advance and I could not wait to begin. I was already proud of myself because I enrolled. On the 31st of January 2021, my module U101 began. I was thrilled and I enjoyed creating so much in those assignments.

My English improved so much and I started to believe in myself that I would be able to complete and get my computing and IT degree. When I reached the end of the module and I passed it I was extremely happy. I am on TM111 at the moment studying IT.

Challenges of studying remotely with the Open University

I enjoy every bit of it of my computing and IT degree with the Open University. As I mentioned earlier I always wanted to study this subject. However, I do encounter difficulties during my studies.

The first one would be time management. When you study from home there will always be something else to do. For this aspect, it is still challenging to manage for me properly. I am working over 40 hours a week using my brain all the time. My biggest enemy is mental fatigue.

Changing my daily habits such as eating healthier and walking home after work has helped me overcome step by step as well as taking vitamins. It seems I can study more and more during the week, from 30 minutes to over an hour in a day.

The second thing I face is my self-doubt. It is the biggest issue in my life. I have extremely high expectations of myself. I tend to be really harsh on myself when during my studies I don’t understand something straight away.

“Sometimes people around you won’t accept you have ambitions”

I am on level 1, and I can tell you the worst thing you can do is doubt yourself and your capabilities. Many times I have thought of stopping my degree as I felt it was too hard for me, or for what I am doing.

Sometimes people around you won’t accept you have ambitions and you want something different. I came across people telling me I don’t need this, and software engineering is for men.

Several people laughed at my plans because they sounded completely unrealistic. But you know what? It doesn’t matter how long it takes me to become a software engineer because that’s what I want to be.

Alongside being an artist because I am both. In my next paragraph, I will explain how my studies helped me to gain employment when I had no previous experience.

Changing career while studying for computing and IT degree

I was previously employed in a warehouse, picking goods and packaging them for delivery to the customer. I held this position for almost two years. Alongside I did induction for new starters and some admin work.

At the same time on my days off, I was doing my studies, my shift patterns were crazy, but I was managing it. As I tried to progress internally, my methods of treating people differed from those of my colleagues. To me, people were more important than numbers. Therefore, I did not have the opportunity to move up.

In February this year, I decided I would leave this job. I just felt unhappy and trapped, and I applied for at least 20 jobs in a day. Middle of February I started to get calls back. I had some really bad interviews.

I applied for the recruitment consultant role, and after 5 minutes I got a call and my interview was booked. In my interview, they brought up my studies, and the fact that I am studying IT at a degree level helped a lot. Once they find out you are studying and working at the same time, they are convinced you are reliable. 

“My one and only advice to you JUST DO IT”

The OU helped me improve my communication skills. I was able to keep proper formal conversation with the manager which was a key skill they were looking for. I felt more confident about what I was saying and presenting myself as well.

After my second interview, I got the offer for the job, and I accepted it. Since I am learning every day more about myself every day and my skills keep improving as I improve myself. Things are still not 100 percent perfect but getting there. 

I am really grateful to the OU. Without the OU I would not land this job. As an artist, the design module I did gave me the boost I needed. I found my style during my studies. My style is abstract painting. I paint emotions in landscape scenes by using colours. If you are interested you can have a look at my portfolio website.

My one and only advice to you JUST DO IT. You will not regret it, it is quite a journey but it will be perfect in the end.

Thank you Alexandra!

Thank you Alexandra for sharing your story. I’m sure you will get your degree in computing and IT with the Open University, and you will become a software engineer!

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