Meet Aimee Forster: MSc International Human Resource Management student
Here at Manchester Metropolitan University, we’ve designed our Global Online courses to give you the support you need to succeed. Whether that’s giving you the knowledge and confidence in a particular skill set to progress in your career, or the personal support you need to juggle studying with your work or personal life, we want our students to know that they are never alone.
When MSc International Human Resource Management student Aimee Forster began her studies after what she describes as a ‘perfect storm of horrible events’, this support was imperative. We caught up with her to find out more.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Aimee, and the journey that led you to Manchester Metropolitan Global Online?
I’ve been living in Rome for almost 20 years, after my degree in Ancient History took me to Italy. I met my husband here, and we now have a six-year-old son. I’d had a very distressing few years before I took the decision to enrol on a masters in human resources. I’d worked in stakeholder management for a good few years, but at the end of 2016 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. At that stage I’d also started an online MBA with a different university. Due to being unwell I had to suspend my studies, thinking I’d be able to come back at a later stage. Unfortunately, due to that institution’s policies, I was unable to. I lost a lot of money and I also lost the learning credits I had accumulated. Then, in 2017, there was a reorganisation at work and I did not get an interview for a permanent position in the role I was working in. It was a perfect storm of horrible events.
However, at the beginning of last year, an extremely supportive manager helped me to change my focus to capacity building and I joined the UN Refugee Agency’s private sector partnership service. The role gave me a new lease of life after a truly terrible time. Having never worked in an HR function before, I found it extremely interesting and I felt like it was something I could be good at. It was at that point that I thought maybe I should look to get a qualification to build my knowledge of – and confidence surrounding – learning and development. This eventually led me to Manchester Met’s MSc International Human Resource Management, which, as I am based in Rome, I knew I wanted to study online.
What were you looking for in an online degree?
Because of my horrible experience studying online previously, I wanted to find somewhere that would let me take my time and pause my studies if I needed to without any issues. I did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews and Manchester Metropolitan University came out on top. Not only did it offer the course that I wanted to study, but also the support I knew I’d need to succeed. Because it’s delivered from a respected UK-based university, rather than an online provider, the support options are fantastic and I know I can access the services I need, when I need to – whether that be pastoral support, like counselling, or academic support with my studies. Everyone has been so helpful, I’ve really enjoyed my studies so far!
How important was the MSc International Human Resource Management CIPD accreditation to you when you were selecting your degree?
Because I’m not from an HR background originally, the CIPD accreditation wasn’t imperative to my decision to enrol on the course. But now I’m on the programme, the university’s links with the CIPD have been fantastic and it is a brilliant benefit. I went to the CIPD’s amazing conference this year and I’ve got access to all of their materials and tools which has been extremely helpful, not only to my studies but also within my day-to-day role. It’s great that this will continue after I graduate, when I will gain Associate Membership status.
How have you found learning online with Manchester Metropolitan University Global Online?
I’ve found the layout of the Virtual Learning Environment really helpful. It’s great that all of the essential readings, interactive seminars, discussion boards and group chats are accessible in one place. The group work has been essential in helping me to understand multiple perspectives – especially as I’m not from a traditional HR background. Having discussions with people from all over the world is the most amazing resource to help me understand more. I now have friends on the course because of the group tasks – we chat regularly on a Whatsapp group. The structure of the course also means I am able to engage with new students who have just started their online learning journey and hopefully lend them a helping hand.
How has the course helped in your day-to-day role so far?
One of the most amazing things about this International HR masters is that I bring what I’ve learnt on the programme into the office on an almost daily basis. Our study unit focusing on employee engagement has led to me developing and implementing a new capacity-building strategy for the private sector partnership service. Very recently I shared a TED Talk that we watched as part of the course with my manager – this was then shown at a huge retreat for the whole of the External Relations division at the UN Refugee Agency. Elements of the course are having an impact on my entire organisation, which is truly fantastic.
How do you think the programme is going to help your career?
I hope that by the time I graduate I’ll be in a good place to apply for jobs that I otherwise may not have looked at, as I’ll have the qualifications to back-up my skillset. I already feel like I’m building my confidence again to take the learnings that I’ve got and the professional development I now have to look at higher-level positions.
What words of advice would you give someone like you who are considering the course?
Go for it! Get to know the other students who are on the course with you – they’ll be with you until the very end, so build those connections and relationships. But also don’t be scared to reach out to the Programme Leaders and Academics; they’re there for you. If you encounter problems, or you’re struggling, they are truly amazing. If you are working, or you’ve got kids, or you’ve had a bit of a rubbish time healthwise or personally, it can be hard to get back into studying. But the course academics want you to do well. I want people to know that this is a really good university, and the support you can access as an online student is fantastic.
If you’re interested in studying our MSc International Human Resource Management, head over to our course page to find out more.