Case study

Perfectly
balanced

University has been a personal journey for Arvin Johal. When he arrived, he saw himself as an individual who needed to gain more confidence in working with others. Now he is taking every opportunity that comes his way to help, support and assist others in any way he can.

Academic excellence

Arvin’s academic work comes first. That’s a given. Before any of the many other activities he gets involved in. And the Business Management student has proved adept at balancing his extra-curricular work with his academic work. He puts it down to dividing and organising his time.

His method is simple: “I bought a diary.”

This year, he’s been getting firsts in all his modules. But it wasn’t always like that.

“I feel like, during the first year, I was literally all over the place,” he says. “I never used to keep a diary, I never used to organise my time like I have this year. And my grades weren’t the best in first year. I’ve made a massive, massive improvement in my second year compared to my first year. And I think that’s mainly just down to planning and organising my time and keeping a diary.

“It’s been hard work, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just so helpful because you don’t realise how organised you are. Because you’re ticking everything off, all that you’ve done during the week and then you can look back at it and you’re like: ‘Wow, I’ve done so much this week. I’ve been so productive this week.’ And then it motivates you to do more.”

So, every Sunday afternoon, Arvin sits down with his diary to plan for the week to come. He pencils in the essentials: lectures and seminars. From there, he can work out when he’s got free time. Oh, and he’s stopped going on his phone during lectures, which he had a tendency to do in his first year. “This second year and third year matter the most so I need to knuckle down, put my head down and do what I can in order to achieve the best of my ability.”

Arvin's story

Arvin Johal studying in a communal area with books and a laptop

View Arvin's story video transcript

Volunteering excellence

When it comes to volunteering, Arvin doesn’t do things by halves. He is a course representative (a vital link between students and academics), a marketing representative (working as part of our wider marketing team), a student ambassador (promoting higher education to school and college students), a Unibuddy ambassador (answering questions from prospective students), and secretary of the Punjabi Society.

He is also winner of the Derby Youth Volunteer Award for his work with the Midlands Langar Seva Society. He explains: “Midlands Langar Seva Society is a Sikh non-profit organisation who operate nationally and worldwide distributing free food and drink to those who are less fortunate than us, regardless of race, gender or religion.

“I am extremely passionate about helping out in the community. I enjoy seeing a big smile on those faces who need the support. Seeing smiles on faces fills me with joy.

“I was absolutely taken back when I found out that I had won the award. It allowed me to become even more motivated to carry on with the volunteering that I am doing.”

blue skies and sunshine seen through a glass wall as Arvin Johal heads down a flight of stairs

Becoming Arvin

It’s hard to believe but Arvin wasn’t full of confidence when he came to university. He says: “I feel that I have developed as an individual and learned so much since coming. I feel like I’ve increased in confidence a lot.

“Before, I was a little bit apprehensive on meeting new people. Beforehand, you are overthinking it. I was always there: what are they going to think of me? Now, if I meet someone new, I’m just: OK, cool, let’s get to know this person. It’s a new opportunity, isn’t it?”

Speaking to his personal academic tutor (PAT) regularly has also boosted his confidence. And he's gained valuable career advice.

He explains: “The University has been absolutely amazing in assisting with my own personal development - and future career aspirations. My PAT is currently Bev Crighton. She's actually really, really amazing and I enjoy talking to her. I do use that. I feel it’s very beneficial because they talk to you like a friend, not like a member of staff at the University.

“And, recently, I wanted to find out more about investing and property and she put me in contact with a few people and they’ve been very, very helpful as well. So, yeah, it’s been amazing. I’d definitely 110% recommend students talking to their personal academics tutors. It is very useful.”

Arvin Johal in our Bloomberg Financial Markets Lab

Why choose Derby?

For Arvin, choosing Derby was down to a few things. It was the right course for him, the course was accredited by the CMI (Chartered Management Institute), and the University came highly recommended by a finalist in the Undergraduate of the Year Awards. Arvin’s sister, Anisha. Who was also the one who told him to get a diary. “She had nothing but positive feedback from studying at the University,” he says.

And he believes his decision to come here has paid off: “It has been an amazing experience so far and has been a very friendly and welcoming experience. I feel like the staff make you feel extremely welcome and the whole sense I get is that the University is a one big family feel.”

Arvin Johal headshot

Throughout my time at the University of Derby, I have achieved so much and am grateful for everyone and every experience I have received.

Arvin Johal
Business Management BA (Hons)

What does the future hold?

First things first. Arvin aims to get a First in his degree. He says: “At college, I got the best grades that you could get. I got a triple distinction star so I knew from there that it was a step set in stone. If I can do this, I can do university. I was like: I can definitely achieve it, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s something I’m willing to do because I want to come out of university thinking I’ve done the best that I can. It doesn’t come easy, does it?”

And he has applied to be a special constable with Derbyshire Constabulary. “It’s always been one of those things I’ve always been fascinated by,” he explains. “As a young kid, I always wanted to join the police. It’s another thing I want to do to develop my skills. It would be a massive thing for me.”

At the moment, Arvin’s not sure which business sector he’d like to work in. So he’s keeping his options open. “My aim is to work for a well-established organisation after graduating and acquire a solid amount of knowledge over the years working with that particular organisation,” he says.

“I would then love to set up my own business. I would love to be in the position where I can inspire and motivate the future and upcoming generation of the importance of hard work and dedication to achieve their desired end goals.”