My Week: Lizzie Fane of Third Year Abroad
By Hannah Prevett Friday, 09 September 2011
The founder of the student travel site on her year in Florence, art, and early morning exercise.
At the moment it’s just me working on the site, and a part-time editor who is based in Mexico. This leaves me to focus on the business development side of things. Because I spend so much time working (I’m often up until 3am tinkering) and I work from home, I always go out for a run in the morning to get my day started. It’s also good to get out of the house. It’s important for me to keep my sitting room and my bedroom and kitchen completely separate in my head so I have space to work in and space to relax in.
I set the site up after university to help students who are on their year abroad. I studied Italian and History of Art at Edinburgh and wanted to spend my year abroad in Florence, but the application process was a total nightmare. So I decided to set this up to help other students. When I got back from Florence, I wrote a business plan in my final year, but after graduating in 2008 I went to work at Mydeco with Brent Hoberman for a year. I just needed to learn the ropes, before I had the confidence, and experience, to go at it alone.
The start of the academic year is always a really busy time for me. I do a lot of university visits, so I’m just putting together my schedule for October and November. Also, the site has just relaunched, so my primary focus has been to get feedback from students and universities via social media and our newsletter which went out on Monday.
I do a fair bit of networking too. I went to an event a few nights ago to learn about doing your own PR. I don’t want to have to pay for it, so I’m figuring out how to do it myself. It’s just nice to know there are other entrepreneurs out there doing the same things I am. So there is a network at least, even if I’m working from my little island most of the time. I actually founded a club for graduate entrepreneurs with businesses that support students - while I'm helping language and year abroad students, Alex from StudentDesigners.com is helping design students and Tom from UniSportOnline.co.uk is helping sporty students. When we go to events around the country, we all network for each other so that despite being small start-ups we can have a broader impact.
When I do get any downtime, I just enjoy being in London. Having studied History of Art and lived in Florence, I like to get out to galleries as often as I can. I seem to spend so much of my time in this technology bubble nowadays, so it’s important to have the balance.
Lizzie Fane is the founder and CEO of thirdyearabroad.com, which helps university students organise their overseas placements.