Jonathan Smart

Jonathan Smart

I chose to study at Leeds after attending an Open Day and seeing what the Business School had to offer. The academic staff were exciting and passionate about their subject, the department was set in an incredible building and the course offered a style of Economics that was unique to Leeds.

I am now a third year student and, looking back on my decision, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. The course offers flexible modules that allow you to explore other disciplines to your degree title. This has allowed me to spend a year learning introductory Mandarin (which was difficult, but very rewarding) as well as modules each year in Finance. As I’ve progressed through my degree I have been able to take modules in Transport Economics, Labour Economics, Growth Economics and Economic History, which has been a huge asset in helping me work out what area of the subject I am most interested in.

Being a student in Leeds is an incredible experience. The campus is friendly and welcoming and there’s always something to do here – from hidden cinema nights in cafes to some of the biggest nights out in Leeds. The student villages, Hyde Park and Headingley are also within walking distance, which means that it’s easy to get in and out of campus as well as being close to all of your friends. The campus is also really close to the city, which makes it really easy to go shopping in between lectures if you need anything, as well as being great to experience some of the events Leeds has to offer, such as the Light Night, the Rugby World Cup screen or the Christmas Markets.

In my first year, I was able to secure an internship with HSBC in Retail Banking and Wealth Management. This was an amazing opportunity for a first year student and has helped me carrying on in my degree to create the foundations of a future career whilst still studying. In the summer after my second year, I completed an internship with Towers Watson in their Investment department and have now secured a graduate job offer with them for September 2016, where I will be trained to either become a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, or a Chartered Financial Analyst.

In the first semester of my second year I volunteered as a PASS mentor for the Business School. This gave me the opportunity to help first year students settle into the university during their first few months in Leeds. For this role, I helped facilitate weekly PASS sessions with a fellow mentor to a group of Economics and Economics & Geography students. Throughout the semester, we were given the opportunity to help these students with work as well as giving them advice on how to settle in to university and find houses for their second year, which was really rewarding and a great opportunity to give back to the Business School. 

As well as this, in my second year I was elected onto the committee of the LUBS Society as the Inclusion secretary. LUBS Society aims to represent and benefit all members of the Business School, providing events that will make them have a better time whilst they’re here, as well as helping them into future careers. Here I helped to arrange events for international students, as well as work with the department to create stronger academic links. As a committee, we arranged all kinds of events from book sales, careers events, nights out and even a trip to Amsterdam! 

One of my favourite modules I’ve taken whilst at Leeds was called ‘Project Appraisal’. This was run by the Transport Economics department and we were taught how the Government assesses infrastructure projects when deciding how to spend its budget. We learnt how most projects have multiplier effects when we compare the benefits gained from them to the costs of construction. We also completed a coursework project where we created our own excel document appraising a motorway development. The module taught me both the interesting theories of project appraisal, and the practical skills I would need to complete an appraisal after I left university.

In my final year, I am now the Economics Admissions Intern for the Business School. In this role, I am gaining invaluable experience through working closely with a team of other students to help the admissions department with the information they give to prospective students, as well as working on Open Days to answer any questions prospective students may have as to what life at the university is like! One of my favourite parts of the role is being able to go and speak to students who are considering coming to Leeds, both at sixth forms and colleges across the country and at the University of Leeds' Open Days.

This profile was published in November 2015 during Jonathan's final year of BSc Economics.