Case study

Taking
the leap

Sometimes you’ve got to take that leap. Barbora Horackova took one - to come from the Czech Republic to Derby to study digital marketing. It was her dream to study in the UK and she found the courage and belief in herself to do it.

Feeling welcomed

“I was full of expectations that this was going to be the best time of my life and I couldn’t wait to experience that,” explains Barbora. “I was full of dreams and I had the drive to make my dreams come true. I was also scared as I did not know if everything I came for would work out.

“I cannot really describe the feelings of how scared I was. It was mainly about the English barrier and I was like: what am I supposed to do when I don’t understand what the academic is saying to me? How am I supposed to know if I’ll be able to describe every time what I want to say or what I feel? How will it all work in terms of living there and being so far away from my family.”

But all those fears melted away when she came to Derby for the first time for a visit and was met by Mikaela, from our International team. Barbora says: “The main thing was that I felt super welcomed. When I was talking to Mikaela or academics or everyone I met, all my fears were gone."

Barbora's story

Barbora Horackova

View Barbora's story video transcript

Real-world experience

One thing that Barbora was sure about when she came to Derby was that she wanted to get a job. “I wanted to be independent,” she explains. “I felt like: I’m studying abroad, and it’s my responsibility.”

After a few temporary roles, Barbora contacted our Student Employment Agency (SEA) on campus. She says: “My first contact with the Student Employment Agency was when I went there to see if they could give me any feedback on my CV. They looked at my CV and they helped me to improve it. Then I signed up to receive offers. And always looked to see if there is anything new that I could apply to.”

And the moment that changed everything was when she saw a role advertised at the SEA for a digital media producer in the University’s Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (CELT). “This role started everything. I had confidence, I started noticing the skills I had to offer. Since then, everything has been working out so well for me.”

So well, in fact, that the original two-month CELT role has now stretched to two years. And Barbora also picked up five marketing internships with businesses in Derby through our DRIVEN programme, which helped small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire recruit talent and fill skills gaps. She says: “This work experience and skills I gained or improved boosted my confidence to apply for other roles I’ve never thought I could get before. All of those internships have led to bigger things and better opportunities.”

Barbora Horackova at work, making notes. A laptop and mobile device sit on a desk. Graphic design images on the walls

Barbora’s latest internship is with the University’s Campaigns marketing team. “Marketing students always think and dream about getting a chance like this so I cannot describe how much this opportunity means to me,” she says. As well as continuing to work for CELT and the Campaigns team, Barbora is still getting regular work from two of the companies where she worked as an intern – alongside her academic work.

“It’s hectic right now during my third year but this real-world experience is so important at the moment for me. I have everything under control. I have good marks. It’s about balancing it all together.”

Why choose Derby?

Barbora’s journey to Derby started halfway round the world. Not in the Czech Republic but in New Zealand. That was the first step. Barbora explains: “Everything started when I went to New Zealand to improve my English. That was a big impulse. That was when I was at high school. I went there for a couple of months because I knew I’d need the ability to speak English to succeed in my career.”

Then, when it was time to choose a university, Barbora found that the universities in the Czech Republic couldn’t provide what she was looking for. With a background in graphic design and multimedia, she wanted to find a digital marketing course. And that was in Derby.

She found the course with the help of the Unilink agency. An agent supported her with the process, including helping her fill in her application. “They were super helpful,” says Barbora. “For me, it was a very simple process. And I was super surprised that it was all for free - for the huge amount of services.

“Then, when I wanted to go to the UK and visit Derby, they arranged everything so I knew there would be Mikaela waiting for me at 9am. That’s really great that they took care of everything.”

Barbora Horackova walking across the grass at Kedleston Road
Barbora at Kedleston Road

And Barbora’s first impressions of Derby were that, within a few minutes, she felt like she belonged and that it was a place that would make her happy. 

She says: “As an international student, I came to Derby. I saw the Kedleston Road campus and I was like: wow! That’s awesome. Because the universities in the Czech Republic are completely different. So seeing Starbucks in Kedleston Road campus was like: oh my, do they really have a Starbucks as a part of the facilities? It was completely different, very modern.

“I was amazed by the facilities, the vibe and the feel of the community.”

Barbora Horackova headshot

It is a great feeling of belonging somewhere, feeling of being part of the community, being accepted. I have gained so many amazing friends for life, which is something incredible.

Barbora Horackova
Marketing student

What does the future hold?

New Zealand is in Barbora’s sights again. She would like to go back there after she’s finished her studies. But, first, there’s the small matter of finishing her degree – and she has decided to continue her education at Derby with an MA in Visual Communication.

“My plan would ideally be after I finish my masters degree to go to New Zealand,” she says. “I don’t even know for how long. Just to have a little bit of a gap before I go to full-time employment. I would love to go back to New Zealand and just enjoy some time before I settle down. I would like to travel a bit.”

She is keen to continue to work for Derby businesses, or maybe even the University, for as long as possible, wherever in the world she may be.

“Derby and I are a perfect fit and choosing the University of Derby was one of the best decisions of my life."