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Posts tagged ‘project’

156. SET Awards

I thought I was done with my project; in fact I took great joy in destroying anything mildly related to it after I got my results. But then quite out of the blue, my supervisor suggested I enter it in the SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) competition. The fact that she even thought it was worth entering is a huge compliment for me. However it’s a European wide competition and getting to the next round is a complete long-shot.

For my entry I had to write a 2000 word synopsis of my project and really sell it. I’m not sure I’ve ever given the details of what I did here on my blog, but to summarise I analysed multiple choice questions and compared differences in performance between the males and females. I liked that it was about education and psychology and not just Mathematics. However condensing 60 pages of work into 2000 words in a coherent way whilst including all the main points was a real challenge. I thought I’d be able to copy and paste huge chunks but I ended up re-writing a lot of it to make it flow better.

It took me HOURS. And it took even longer to convince myself to get my head down and actually do it. I’m getting too used to lazing around.

My supervisor also has to write a supporting reference explaining how fantastic I am and how dedicated I was to my project and what a fabulous ambassador I am for my subject. lol, just lol.

  Over and Out!

152. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

GUYS Guys guys! I got a FIRST! I GOT A FRIGGIN’ FIRST!

During these holidays I employed an avoidance tactic when it came to results. Of course that didn’t stop it popping into my head and making my stomach drop, but each time it did I made a quiet a prayer and pushed it out my mind. I refused to be that person sitting by their computer hitting refresh a hundred times. 

So where was I when I got my results? Tesco. My phone started blowing up. People were posting their results on Facebook and I was just standing in the vegetables aisle gripped by anxiety. I was with my parents at the time but I made a decision not to tell them in case they crashed the car on the way home in their haste. So I played it cool and wandered around the store for the next twenty minutes looking at toothpaste and pasta sauce. 

When I eventually made it home, I trudged up the stairs, turned on my computer and found my hands shaking. Why was I so nervous? Well last year, I was kinda disappointed by my results. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to so I worked my butt off this year to compensate for it. I just wasn’t sure whether I’d done enough. 

I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT when I saw that it said ‘First Class Honours’ next to the degree classification. I think I blinked several times just to check I wasn’t imagining it. I even asked Shakira if that meant a First because I seemed to have lost my handle on the English language.  

Even better I saw that I got a First in every module except one which was off by two marks. On top of that I got a First in my project/ dissertation which blew my mind. Hands down the best set of marks I have ever obtained at university. 

So basically I was standing in my room kinda overwhelmed and on the verge of tears (but I managed to hold it it together). The fun part was telling my parents. I crept downstairs and calmly announced my results. The next thing I know I’m being squished to a within an inch of my life by my mum and we were jumping up and down like crazy people. My dad was much more subdued though I’d say equally pleased. 

So yeh I am pretty darn happy right now and this grin I’m wearing ain’t going nowhere for a while. 

Over and Out!

149. Done and Dusted.

I am officially exam free- can I get a HELL YEAH?! Do I have my life back yet though? HELL NO.

Basicallyy I still have my fourth year project to finish off which is kinda like a dissertation but with maths instead of words. This project (and an accompanying presentation on said project) is worth quarter of the year which is A LOT. Additionally if you’re borderline between degree classes like I am, they look at your project marks to help decide which side of the boundary you should be on.

Now I’ve been working on this project on and off from November so I’ve done a fair bit. However I’m not sure if it’s utter bollocks or actually relevant. Mine’s not the most ‘mathematical’ of projects either; it’s more statistical analysis focused. Before you start thinking oooh analysis, let me clarify that it’s more like ‘errrm this mean is higher…oh look low variance’ and other mindless insights rather than meaningful inference.  I kinda feel sorry for my supervisor who has to read this drivel.

As for the exams… I did six of them which is two less than what I did in 1st and 2nd year but it still felt overwhelming. Must be the insane content. How did they go?

The Mastery Paper

This bastard of a paper is reserved for us lucky fourth years to try and distinguish us from the third years. They made us sit an exam where we were given one question from each of the modules we took. Note that even though I study maths which is ‘one subject’, individual modules are vastly different. It was like a five in one exam or more accurately THE MOTHER OF ALL EXAMS. Even worse it was the very first exam. I had zero hope that it would go well- I just wanted to not fail. In the end I had one very good question, two average questions and one piss poor one so I’d say it all averages out to meh.

Algebraic Combinatorics

This is a pure Maths module and by definition, that makes it HARD. You’ve actually got to think in the exam *shock* *horror*. I was terrified going into it because the past papers from the last few years were foul and there were bits of the course that I just didn’t get. However it turned out better than expected. That’s not to say I smacked it. I just had low expectations and it exceeded those.

Time Series

Preparing for this exam felt like preparing for an A-Level Mathematics exam ie. you hit the past papers and you do as many practice questions as possible rather than examine the lecture notes. I had a terrible journey getting into uni that day and although I wasn’t late, it messed up my mental preparation. I was all over the place at the beginning of the exam but luckily I managed to pull myself together and I hope I salvaged it. I *hope*.

Applied Probability

I really liked this course mainly because I really like the lecturer but my god was this module a bitch to revise for. You have to know the lecture notes INSIDE OUT. Every minute detail is examinable and there are so many proofs and methods which you’re expected to know. I felt like I understood the content but I wasn’t sure I could convert that into a good exam mark. Before the exam I did a quick revision session with a dude from my course and I explained some stuff to him and he explained some stuff to me. Both things came up. I could have hugged him.

Statistical Theory

The name of this course is Statistical theory but we knew the exam was all about applying the theory. Due to my timetable I sort of only had 6 days to revise for it properly. The lecture notes were waffle so I just did the papers and hoped for the best. I even learnt definitions on the train on the exam day. It was all very last minute dot com. The exam itself was HARD but I honestly tried so I’m not disappointed. I did everything I could.

Stochastic Simulation

We all got royally screwed over. It was nothing like the past papers. I can’t say it was ‘unfair’ but it was just weird and I didn’t feel like the questions were direct. I could see everyone’s faces in the hall as they flicked through the questions all unanimously thinking ‘what the hell is this?’. It was a pretty bad exam to end on. My only consolation is that I think everyone found it bad so hopefully they’ll sort out the boundaries…

But yeah. That’s that. All done and dusted. I thought I’d have some closure after this or feel like a great burden had been lifted off my shoulders. Instead I felt..nothing and my attention immediately switched to my project. Maybe I’ll feel like celebrating when that’s done?

At least I hope so.

Over and Out!

 

129. A day of coding…

…goes pretty much like this…

I’m going to be really productive today. I am refreshed and ready to tackle these questions. Bring it on!

im1

Just look at that positive attitude.

Let me just copy and paste the code that worked perfectly at home. Done. I think I’ll just run it to check everything is working…

It’s not working. Why isn’t it working?

im2

My computer hates me

Oh I forgot to install the packages at the start. Silly me. It should work now.

It’s still not working. I don’t understand why this is happening.

im4

EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Crap now I’m going to have to run everything line by line to identify the problem.

Oh FFS I left out a bracket. Now everything is working.

FINALLY I can start. Oh crap is that the time?! I’m going to be late for my lecture.

im3

When will this be over?!

*sigh* another day of unproductive coding.

And that guys, is basically my life right now!

Over and Out!

P.S New background- good, bad or ugly?

126. So did I actually do anything on my To-Do List?

So I made a list of things I wanted to do over Summer and I thought it might be a good idea to check if I actually did any of them. I know it’s October but better late than never. Here goes:

  • Buy clothes for my internship (so that I look good while I succeed! )
    I had a very successful shopping trip with my dad. I managed to buy five shirts/blouses for under £60 so I was well chuffed! Shame I didn’t give two hoots about what I was wearing about a week into the internship.
  • Visit all my friends who I haven’t seen in a while
    I visited a few close friends but nowhere near everyone I hoped to see. GUILTY!

    akjk

    Me and JK

  • Buy clothes for my cousin’s wedding
    Ah ha ha the last minute panic that was my Paris trip. I really liked the green asian style maxi dress I bought- made me feel a million dollars!
  • Be nice to my cousin who doesn’t like me when she comes to visit
    This went surprisingly well actually. I think we both made a conscious effort to be warmer towards each other even though we don’t see eye to eye. I’m pleased we parted on good terms.
  • Think seriously about fourth year modules and start collecting past papers/ problem sheet solutions
    I dedicated quite a lot of time thinking about my final year and how I needed to boost my marks. I find it amusing that the modules I decided to do this term are exactly what I originally planned to do before all the scrutiny and over analysis of past papers. Sometimes it really is best not to overthink. I’m very happy with my choices.
  • Bake lasagna for my parents again
    Shockingly I got around to doing this. It was a real pain getting my parents out the kitchen but I succeeded in baking something edible. It was good but there is definitely room for improvement (more white sauce!)

    lasagna

    Om nom nom

  • Start writing down Mum’s recipes (step one of wife training)
    This didn’t happen… I’m clearly putting off wife training. I should just start apologising to my husband now. If he exists.
  • Organise a holiday somewhere in Europe for September
    I must have spent hours looking at potential destinations but did I go anywhere? NOPE. In part, I blame my parents because they were so reluctant. My mum’s preference is always to go to Pakistan to see family but that means never getting a chance to actually explore the country. My dad’s preference is to minimise spending and if he had it his way we’d be in a tiny self catering hostel and seeing lots of places but not actually ‘doing’ anything. Either way, not the holiday I was looking for.
  • Start reading A Game of Thrones
    Alas this didn’t happen either. HOWEVER I did manage to read quite a few books during my jury service because there was so much waiting around. I just love reading sessions- I really miss it during term time. Technically speaking I could read a few pages everyday but I find that very unsatisfying. I prefer to totally immerse myself into a new world not just dip in and out of it.
  • Spend a day baking
    I had a lovely day baking fairy cakes with my beautiful cousin Mele. They came out so soft and fluffy! I also whipped the cream by hand which required some serious elbow grease but it came out well. We decorated the cakes with flakes and sprinkles and gosh they were scrummy!

    fairycakes

    Who doesn’t love a bit of rainbow sprinkles?!

  • Go to Thorpe Park
    Hmmm I went to Alton Towers instead which was a real trek so I think it should count. NEXTTT
  • Watch: Hangover 3, The King’s Speech, Season 7 and 8 of House, the last series of Doctor Who…and all the other stuff saved on our Sky Box
    This was my proudest achievement. I watched it all! I’ve officially seen every episode of House. Totally cried when it ended.
  • Sort out all the papers and folders scattered across my room
    I dedicated an entire day sifting through the crap in my room. I don’t know how I amass so much paper. By the end I had a pile up to my knees that went straight into recycling. Now there’s more room for me to collect new crap. Huzzah!
  • Back up my files and wipe my laptop(asaurus) because it’s so damn slow!
    I actually wiped my laptop TWICE but I still haven’t bothered to copy my files over. Turns out all I really need is the internet!
  • Do some reading for my fourth year project- maybe even form an outline of how I want to structure it
    I was quite annoyed that I couldn’t do much for my project over the Summer but I wasn’t the only one so I don’t feel so bad. I have a truckload to do for it now though. Le sigh.
  • Finish furnishing my Neohome
    Neopets took a back seat this Summer. Am I growing up? NOOOOOOOO. (I still play the stock market. I will never give it up.)
  • Finish decorating the Disney Princesses wall in my room (I’m a grown up, honest)
    I did the colouring….but I still need to cut them out and stick them on my wall. It was surprisingly therapeutic just sitting there deciding which shade of pink was right for Aurora’s dress. #lifedecisions

    aurora

    See how well I kept in the lines. Such a pro.

  • Lose a few pounds or worse comes to worst, don’t put ON any more weight!
    I didn’t lose weight. On the plus side, I didn’t really gain anything either. In my books, that’s a win!
  • KEEP BLOGGING!
    I think I did just enough though I got super busy during my internship…

Overall I think I did quite well. Did most of the important things on the list!

Over and Out!

114. I’m getting moneyyyy

Well actually I got a job offer. Same thing. I thought I would hear back from Towers Watson in early September so this came as a real shock. The first time they rang, I was in the shower. When I phoned back, they were busy. By the time they replied, I had lots of family around so I had to literally scream EVERYONE SHUT UP… please.

But yeah I got my first job offer on the back of my first internship which I got from my first assessment centre. That’s quite a statistic. I feel very lucky but at the same time I worry I have like no interview experience which might pose a problem in the future. But this isn’t the time to fret about that.

I should add I haven’t accepted yet. Thought I’d keep them waiting for once 😛 Nahhh I wanted to discuss it with my parents first and really process it so now I have until the end of the week to respond.

The pay is decent but not as high as I aspired. However there are quite a few perks with the job, the most important being that they’ll pay for my study package (I gotto take exams to become an actuary…) and I’ll get approximately one day a week off to revise. They’d also get me into their pension scheme, give me a free phone, private medical insurance..useful stuff.

So yeah. A job offer waiting for me after I graduate…a nice position to be in. I can do my best during my final year of uni and not worry about what’s coming next.

All the interns at my office. I hope they all come back!

All the interns at my office. I hope they all come back!

I was gonna talk about the fact that my project group won the prize for ‘Most Innovative Team’ for the videos we made and how awesome we were as a group (see post 111. Go Beyond!) but this news kinda trumps that. Oh well.

team fast forward

Team Fast Forward!

There you have it. The end of my internship but the start of my career at Towers Watson.

Over and Out!

[Note: The title and gif come from the song ‘Turn my swag on’ by Soulja Boy. Lol. ]

111. Go beyond!

Go beyond… your expectations. Go beyond… your imagination. No I’m not trying to inspire you. Nor am I channeling Buzz Lightyear. These are some of the phrases I spoke into a camera as part of my intern project.

What kind of project was it I hear you exclaim?

Well I worked with 7 other interns across 3 offices to put together a video for graduate recruitment about what being an intern at Towers Watson is like. We worked on it for the whole internship and started from scratch; research, scripts, story boards. I don’t know if any of you guys have seen videos like this before but they’re usually just interviews. We wanted ours to be a little different ie. more fast paced, short snippets of conversation overlayed with supporting shots.

Towers Watson actually hired a professional cameraman called Marx to do the filming and we naively thought he’d lead the directing. Instead he strolled in and was like where do you want me? Tell me what to do, this is your film… so we very much dictated how it went.

In the morning we did all the serious stuff about how wonderful Towers Watson is and how much support and guidance we’d been given. To be fair, this is all true but there is always an element of cheesiness when you’re trying to advertise something in this way. I found myself cringing on more than one occasion. For most of these shots, we had the camera on us but we had to keep our eyes on a person to the side. Let me tell you, it is bloody difficult not to look at the camera and to keep your eyes focused. Any little distraction causes your eyes to flicker and look (as Marx put it) ‘shifty’.

In the afternoon, we did all the ‘filler’ shots eg. working at a computer, walking down a corridor, being in a meeting, having something explained to us. This was all ‘pretend’ as the people in the office are annoyingly camera shy. We weren’t allowed to use any real data due to client confidentiality so we manufactured some ridiculous graphs on Excel. Thank you random number generator. Also you’d be surprised how difficult it is to be ‘natural’ when you have a lens on your face. When we were walking down a corridor, we had to pretend to be talking about something really important. Anyone lip reading the official video might be alarmed to read ‘this is in blue font’, ‘wow this sentence is shit’, ‘this is a title’, ‘what am I doing?’, all very professional of course… I probably shouldn’t be sharing this on the internet…oh well, come at me Towers Watson.

Throughout the day we had fun with the new branding tagline: Go beyond. It was very tempting to just say ‘go beyond Towers Watson’ which probably wasn’t the right message to be sending out! Other variations included ‘to infinity and beyond’ and ‘go beyond friction’ but the most hilarious was ‘go beyond….FRIENDSHIP’ *cue one of the guys putting his arms around the girls (see 0:53 in the video below)*. I am still laughing about it.

So the final video isn’t out yet but me and Shakira made a video of the videoing (…) for our final presentation. It’s basically just outtakes and it’s by no means perfect but we had so much fun filming that we wanted to share it. By the way our team name was Fast Forward (shut up I know it’s cheesy).

As you can see we had a tonne of fun. Our group was fabulous and it was a brilliant day away from the office!

Go beyond! Over and Out!

106. My Internship

I’ve just finished my third week at Towers Watson as an intern (working in Retirement). This means I’ve actually reached half way! The time has seriously flown by, probably because I’ve been kept so busy.

aliya

Enjoying the sunshine

Settling Down

There are 8 of us altogether in the Westminster office in Retirement. One is me, the other is Shakira and one of the dudes actually went to my secondary school (though he was in the year below me). So that’s 2 more people than most people usually know at the start of their internship. On top of that it’s 6 girls and 2 boys which is pretty unusual but all of this combined has just made it easier for me to settle down.

The Work

There’s no point me detailing the kind of stuff I do because it won’t make much sense. All I can say is that to work in this area, you need to learn so many new words and acronyms that it might as well be a Rosetta Stone course. Also because of government rule changes over the years, doing simple tasks becomes hella annoying because you have to look at each time period separately, there’s Pre 88, Post 88, Pre 97, Post 97, and the occasional Post 06.  Why you make this so hard?!

Initially I was a bit annoyed about doing things I didn’t actually understand. For example I use a very clever spreadsheet called Caps and Floors which works out the right interest rate for stuff. Essentially all I do is input a few values and it spits out a number. I have no idea how it’s doing this and from the viewpoint of a mathematician, I find it wholly unsatisfying but I have grudgingly come to accept that I don’t have time to work through the Black Scholes equation. Additionally I had very little financial knowledge coming into this. I didn’t know how gilts work (I do now..sort of) or stuff about bond yields which was a hindrance.

I haven’t done much Maths besides basic arithmetic (I miss it) but the numerical judgement I’ve picked up during my degree (eg. does this figure look right?) has been invaluable. It means I’m efficient when sifting through documents trying to find the right information and also when reviewing calculations on Excel.

I have a buddy who’s supposed to make sure I always have work to do but he’s a bit slow and this week he’s gone on holiday. Basically I’ve been pestering the people around me and they’ve been happy (a little too happy on occasion) to oblige. In contrast, Shakira’s buddy Timone gives her annoying technical tasks with incomplete instructions but he’s very nice so we forgive him.

IT Skills

I thought I was decent using Microsoft Office. I’m not. I have learnt so many little tricks in my time here.  Many of them are specific to the the TW Toolbar but just small things like the ‘track changes’ features in Word and ‘record transitions’ feature in Powerpoint has been… life changing. However, the biggest shock was Microsoft Outlook. I had NO IDEA how powerful it was. I’d never given it much attention before but seriously it puts Hotmail and even Gmail to shame. Its capacity to book meetings, check out other people’s schedules and track tasks has been invaluable. I will never dismiss it again.

Socials

Towers Watson is a very friendly place. The office is open plan so you literally can walk up to anyone and just say hi. As the new interns, everyone was really eager to meet us and find out our capacity to do some work for them 😛 There is always some kind of social event on the horizon whether it’s Friday drinks, a lunch or a boat party like we had this week. The inconvenient thing about them is that they all involve drinking. It’s like they can’t do anything if there is no alcohol. Every time I tell someone that I don’t drink, they give me a confused look. I guess I didn’t realise how important a pint was in British culture. I do now. And my god, it’s not just one pint they have, it is several. Where is all this liquid going? How are they constantly not peeing?! It’s a mystery to me.

However I’ve still been going to as many of the socials as I can. A highlight was the boat party. Great fun! I’m sure it was supposed to be used as an opportunity for (more) networking but there was a roulette table and I pretty much spent the whole evening there (no real money was involved before someone starts shouting at me for gambling during Ramadan- talking of Ramadan… Ramadan Mubarak!).

roulette

I’m feeling lucky….

Intern Project

Alongside all the work we do in the office, we also have an intern project. I’m in a group of 8 across three different offices and we have to co-ordinate making new videos for graduate recruitment. Other groups are making games to help prospective applicants decide what line of business they should go for and another is setting up TW’s Facebook and Twitter page. The project has been really fun so far and I really like my group, particularly a dude called Robert who is our project leader and also happens to have beautiful chiselled cheekbones 😛 Now originally we thought that we’d be interviewing people in the office… turns out we’re starring in them. That’s right we’re going to be immortalised on the TW website, saying cringey things like ‘open the door to your career at Towers Watson!’ *fistpump*.

reigate

This is where we’re going to be filming… the Reigate office (not my usual Westminster one)

Dress Code

I’m going to be honest- half the reason I was excited about this internship was because I’d get to dress up in nice formal wear. However that gets old real quick. First of all dresses and skirts are really annoying when you’re climbing stairs. Mine don’t have huge slits so my pace length is restricted and unless I hike the hem up, I definitely can’t run for my train. Trousers for the win! Furthermore, if I’m not wearing trousers I wear opaque tights and in this weather it is DISGUSTING. I can feel my legs continuously getting sweaty and drying. Actually gross. Oh and shoes! Both my flats and my heels hurt my feet if I wear them for too long. University has spoiled me- the only shoes that don’t hurt are trainers.

Thankfully we have dress down Fridays where I can chillax and wear my jeans and converses to work. Hoorah!

Okay this is getting really long now. I’ll leave it at that- don’t want to bore all of you!

Over and Out!

95. Mission Accomplished

The last few days have been super stressful but I’m really pleased to announce that I’m finally done with third year! HELLO SUMMER!

I handed in my projects (yup plural) yesterday and I also gave my oral presentation. Considering how little time I had to prepare for it, I think it went decently. I rehearsed as much as I could in the few hours beforehand, so much so that I think I strained my voice. The time limit was 15 mins so I wanted to be talking for at least 12 minutes but when rehearsing, I couldn’t get it over 10 mins 20 secs. Miraculously I made it last over 13 minutes for the real thing. I swear it doesn’t matter how much public speaking you’ve done, it doesn’t get much easier. I always feel like I’ve got my foot in my mouth and can’t get the words out.

I took a few pics because our projects looked soo beautiful when binded. I almost didn’t want to hand it in!

specialprojectbinded

Such Beauty

Shakira didn’t even want to let them go!

Can you feel the loovee tonight?

Can you feel the loovee tonight?

I was just in a state of delirium that it was all finished.

I don't even...

I don’t even…

Over and Out!

94. Student on a mission!

I only have a few hours to completely prepare my oral presentation for tomorrow afternoon. It’s only worth a quarter of my entire module. No biggie.

Oh who am I kidding?! I am freaking out. And before some quips in that I should have started earlier, I tried but my stupid project took a ridiculous amount of time to format and edit and print.

But hey, I can do this. I can present. I’m speaking about something I know well. I’m passionate about it. I just need to try not to swear. And not to speak too fast. And not to make inappropriate jokes. And not diss the teachers too much. And not complain about the children.

Dammit if only this oral presentation was a rant- I would ace it.

Argh I have worked my arse off all week- there’s only one day to go and one final hurdle.

This will be the best presentation eva.

LET’S GET THIS SHIT DONE.

Over and Out!