Networking Top Tips: Post by Meaghan Crancher

Hello everyone!

New LogoI recently attended The Cardiff Award’s networking event. I was nervous to say the least! I had never been to an event similar to this where I had to sell my skills and experience to businesses. Everyone was so helpful and patient as for many of us this was our first networking event. IMG_1628

I believe it was one of my best Cardiff University experiences. It prepared me for future networking events and interviews; something that I will be forever grateful for!

I just wanted to share a few tips:

1. Attire

First impressions are very important. At a networking event you should look presentable and confident. Coming in something that makes you feel good can make those nerves slip away! Make sure it is business attire as this allows people to picture you in their business environment.

2. Come with an open mind – Speak to everyone

When I attended The Cardiff Award’s networking event, I initially thought that some of the businesses at the event were not suitable for me. I decided that I would go to everyone, with the intention of the more practice networking the better. However, when I spoke to them every single stand had something to offer for me. Something that I couldn’t be happier about!

3.Know the businesses

IMG_1623One thing I found extremely helpful was researching each business that was attending the event. I figured out which companies I really wanted to speak to and what they offered. I then decided to prepare a small list of questions that I would ask. This research before the event prevented any awkward pauses or business mix ups!

4. Know Yourself

This may sound like a obvious tip, how could you not know what you have experience in? However, this I believe is where people struggle. Forgetting the official names of events or associations you are involved in, can leave a bad impression. You need to read through your CV, familiarising yourself with what you have to offer!

 

5. What can you offer me?

This I believe, is  an essential question. A lot of businesses are looking for specific criteria and experience.  However they are also seeking people with ambition and confidence.  Asking this question also gives you the platform to say why what they offer is suited to you!    oppertunity

I hope these few tips help you prepare for your next up and coming networking event!

Thank you for reading,

Meaghan x

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Cranchermeg

The Cardiff Award so far. Post by Charlotte Eales

charlotte ealesHaving been a participant of the Award for 8 or so months, I’m going to give you a whistle stop tour of my experiences so far!

I’ve already attended a variety of the talks and workshops on offer, including a maths support session (a session which proved very useful as I’m probably about as numerically challenged as humanly possible), Commercial Awareness, Speaking and Presenting by SDS, and Networking by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  I’m currently signed up to attend CVs by CareerCake TV, Applications for the Third Sector delivered by innovate Trust and Job Hunting (something which seems to have become a personal reality very quickly!) by CareerCake TV.

Personally, I’ve found it really interesting to see how well the talks and workshops compliment each other. For example, attending the networking talk brought home the realisation of the necessity to gain the ability to sell myself to potential employers, whilst the Speaking and Presenting workshop helped me to develop the confidence to make this more of a reality.

New LogoFor me, one of the most daunting tasks on the pathway to the completion of the Award was the psychometric tests, and in particular the maths one: having done a minimal amount of maths since GCSE, I was convinced that I was destined for failure. I’d love to say that the practice tests made the task less scary but this really wasn’t the case for me. However, I was surprised to find that in my feedback I scored in the 70-something percentile for both of the psychometric tests (I even had to forward the email to my dad so that he could double check!). So even though practice questions didn’t make me any less nervous for the test, I’d definitely like to stress the importance of doing them; the practice tests provided don’t take long to complete at all and it’s well worth avoiding the hassle of having to retake!

Another concern  (as you can probably tell, I have a tendency to panic) was how I’d fill up my hours, as initially, it seemed like an awful lot of time. However, the fantastic thing about the Award is the recognition and reward it gives for time spent on activities that many students already complete. With two months left until I complete the Award I’ve already surpassed the mandatory 70 hours, with the help of a part-time job, work experience at Save the Children and becoming a committee member (something which the Award encouraged me to do).

In the coming months, I’m particularly looking forward to attending the applications for the third sector talk, as it’ll be interesting to contrast the desirable skill-sets that employers from different sectors are looking for as applications and interviews are definitely looming!

 

Facing Your Fears!

1497472_10153765295550074_1423407054_nI’m a 27 year old trained pharmacy technician with over five years of full-time work experience. I’ve served customers, used tills, phoned suppliers, worked with a variety of professionals, supervised teams and managed my own project. You’re probably wondering why I would bother taking part in the Cardiff Award when I already have this level of experience.

Well, to tell the truth, I could really benefit from it. I constantly struggled with my job. My duties may look impressive written on paper but in reality I had a hard time keeping up with my workload. On top of that I wasn’t particularly great at communicating with either my clients or my colleagues. I preferred to be left to my own devices in the back room where I could dispense without interruption. I grudgingly accepted the role of supervisor because no one else could do it and leading team meetings incited fear into my heart. I always got my work done on time and was regularly praised for my pharmaceutical knowledge but my extreme lack of confidence, especially in front of customers, was harming not only my professional image but that of my team.

gradI’ll tell you a secret: I did not leave my job and come to university to retrain in a better career. I did not leave my job and come to university in order to fulfil a burning desire to study literature. I did not even leave my job and come to university to experience the joys of studentdom which I’d missed out on when I was younger. I left my job and came to university because it was the easy option. I really did.

After five years of pharmacy it had got to a point where I was so overwhelmed with my confidence issues that coming into work every day felt like torture. I didn’t have a close relationship with my colleagues and I felt like they didn’t understand me. I felt like I was constantly struggling to keep up with everyone else and I dreaded the day my manager would pull me up for not making more of an effort. I hated making weekly phone calls to my patients and on the days where I had to make those calls it felt like a knife was twisting in my stomach. The day on which I considered not contacting one of my patients – which could have potentially had a profound negative effect on their health – I knew I had gone too far. It was ok for my lack of confidence to affect me but to risk the health of a patient was selfish and dangerous. I gave in my notice and applied to come to Cardiff University.

So I took the easy way out. I was now a student! Brilliant! Time to focus on what I wanted to do and, if I kept my head down and didn’t speak too much in seminars, I could probably get through it without drawing attention to myself. Fabulous. For the first few weeks of term I was walking around with a smile on my face. I loved my course and I’d made a few good friends who had the same interests as me. My family kept commenting that I appeared happier and healthier.

However, running away to university was a bit like applying a dressing to a wound. It provided temporary relief but more had to be done to heal it. I started thinking about the future. Yes, I was having a great time right now, but inevitably I would have to start thinking about a career, which meant I would have to confront my problem.

Surabhi Bhandari Picture3This is where the Cardiff Award comes in. During Fresher’s Week I’d picked up some information about the award. I was instantly drawn in by the skills workshops, which help with issues such as speaking, presenting and leadership, all of which I struggled with at work. As well as this, I knew that once I finished my degree I would have to fight for a graduate job in a highly competitive market. You’re probably well aware that there are often thousands of graduates, all with good degrees from good universities, applying for one position. I figured that the Cardiff Award was a good way to make my CV stand out from the rest.

The first thing I did for my award was the Self Assessment Exercise, which involved answering questions about the way I worked and motivated myself. It was such a simple exercise, taking no more than half an hour, but it was a massive turning point for me. After completing it I realised that I am actually quite a confident person, but I lack confidence in my own ability. This explained why, although I find it easy to socialise with people, I find it difficult to sell someone cough medicine. I did not believe I knew enough to make the best choice and was worried about appearing stupid if that happened.

However, while reflecting on my previous experience, I realised that I was actually quite capable and had only had good experiences. I just needed to let my confidence grow. Now I finally knew what the problem was, I could go about fixing it.

Throughout my time on the award I have tried to take on as many new experiences as I can in order to gain self-confidence. I volunteered for Blackout Wales, which meant working with a large group of people I didn’t know, but I loved it and made some good friends. I took part in Cardiff University Enterprise’s Concept, which involved working closely with my team and making leadership decisions. I had a fun time, learned a lot about marketing and also practised my teamwork and leadership skills in a ‘safe’ environment.

I worked in City Hall for a week as a graduation assistant, actually greeting every graduate who came through the doors. I made a couple of mistakes and got my words muddled up now and again, but no one cared. I soon got over my fear of looking foolish in front of people. The hardest experience for me was working on reception in a busy university department. I’d never worked on a reception desk before and was really scared of messing up. And I did mess up. And although I was very tempted to flee from the building, I sat it out. And everything was ok.

New LogoThe experiences I’ve had so far with the Cardiff Award are the most beneficial I’ve had in my entire adult life. A year ago it was beyond my comprehension that I would ever achieve the things I have since taking part in the award. I’ve learned an incredible amount which I wished I’d known while I was working. I’ve gained new skills, had experience working in graduate roles and my confidence in myself has grown and grown. So although I ran away from my problems I’m glad I ran to the right place. Doing my degree has changed my life. Doing the Cardiff Award is a way for me to put this change into effect and ensure that I have the best future I can have.

catch-me-if-u-can

 

Commercial Awareness – NOT JUST FOR BUSINESS STUDENTS!

The Cardiff Award has just entered its 4th year; if you are a follower of our posts you will know that its aim is to develop employability skills that are transferable across industries, including COMMERCIAL AWARENESS.

We seek feedback every year and in the main it is positive; some students however feel the heavy focus on commercial awareness pitches the Award at business students.  But this is such a misconception.  This year I am making it my mission to demystify this term and make Cardiff students understand it is an essential attribute regardless of career choice.

Firstly, why does the Award focus on commercial awareness?  A CBI survey in 2009 found that 35% of employers were dissatisfied with the business and customer awareness of graduates, and anecdotal feedback from Award sponsors and key recruiters is consistent with these findings.  If the Awards aims to make its students more employable, then developing participants commercial awareness is a priority.

Commercial Awareness Blog
Commercial Awareness: the key to successful applications.

 

What is it?

Put simply, it is having an understanding of what makes any business or organisation successful and understanding the factors that influence this success.  It is being able to demonstrate that you that you have an understanding of the market place in which a business or service operates.  Understanding what makes an organisation or business successful is a key requirement in most occupations and is extremely important when applying for a graduate job

So, when applying for a role in an ANY organisation or business it is understanding:

  • The sector and market place they operate in.
  • Who their key stakeholders are (customers, suppliers, competitors).
  • How they remain profitable/successful (all commercial businesses,schools, hospitals and charities have to perform to exist)

It is also understanding why you are applying to them, what motivates you, how much do you know about their values, their culture, the staff and the role you are applying for.  Where might the position take you within the organisation/the industry.

It sounds complicated but it’s not!  All it means is using the critical thinking skills you develop in your academic study to help gain an understanding of the career/sector/organisation/business you want to work in. Importantly, doing this will help you develop a better understanding of your career motivations too – is this organisation/sector right for you?   Knowing about the organisation and why you want to work there is powerful in the application process.

This should apply to all roles, for example:

  • Teachers need to be aware of current trends in education and political influences that may impact on what and how they teach.
  • Journalists need to know who their customers are and how to keep them engaged, they should know who their competitors are and how to stay ahead of them; they need to understand and keep up-to-date with emerging technologies that may impact on their readership etc.
  • Aspiring publishers need to know how the industry makes a profit, (it’s not enough to enjoy literature).
  • Fundraisers for charity/voluntary organisations need to think about how they make their organisation stand out from the 1000s of others out there.
  • Scientists need to understand the potential impact of their research

I could go on but hopefully I have made you think?

Developing Commercial Awareness

 You don’t have to be working  in a business to develop business/commercial acumen.

  • You may work part time in retail or hospitality.  Think about them in a business context instead of purely a financial means.  Who are their customers, how do they make a profit (e.g. promotional activity) and how do you help with this? Who are the competitors, how do they differentiate themselves from them? What impact have you had on your department’s success (have you won awards for good customer service or have you been given extra responsibilities)?  Are you aware of how your department combats losses? How have you helped with this? This can be easily articulated on a CV, or in an interview!
  • Involved in a Society? – How does your society ensure sustainability?  How does it generate income?  How do you attract new members over other societies?  What is your unique selling point?  What activities have you been involved in that have impacted on the society’s success?
  • As a volunteer what is your role?  What do you do that impacts on the organisation’s success and how do you represent them?
  • If you’re an academic rep then why is your work important to the University?  In a wider context why is it important that the University satisfies its student’s needs?  How are you impacting on this?

On a basic level make sure you keep up-to-date with current affairs. For example read the Financial Times or trade press for your industry (mention this in your CV by the way!) If you don’t keep abreast of issues in the industry you wish to work in then you should!

Prior to an interview or an application, research the company and role you are applying to and go deeper than looking at their ‘about us’ page.  Use LinkedIn to follow companies; have they got a Facebook page that provides a discussion forum about the company and the role you are applying for?  Is there a particular project that you have read about that impresses you? You should also be aware of societal or economic events / trends / news stories that have happened in recent years and affected the company or sector.

I could go on but this post is already too long!  I hope this has made you think about how you are developing your commercial awareness through your everyday activities and now realise that it actually applies to students across all degree disciplines and for all roles.

Remember every organisation/business in all sectors needs to operate successfully to exist.

My Cardiff Award Story – Amy Pay

Amy Pay pictureI stumbled across the Cardiff Award at the end of my second year at university. I had taken part in a handful of courses with the Skills Development Service and found them really useful. While browsing the annual graduate careers fair, I met Kath Foot, manager of the Cardiff Award, and casually chatted to her about my career goals and what work experience I had undertaken so far. When she learnt of my eagerness to succeed and pursue my interests, she recommended the Cardiff Award to me and invited me to apply. The next day, that is exactly what I did, and, as cliché as it sounds, I certainly don’t regret it.

Balancing the Cardiff Award with the rest of my commitments was difficult. Editing Quench Magazine, working occasional shifts with the Jobshop, writing things as a freelance journalist, spending time with my friends and loved ones, and not to forget the reading and writing for my degree, I already had a lot of things going on; with the Cardiff Award added onto that, I had to learn to manage my time and keep on top of things. This was tough, I won’t pretend otherwise, but I learnt a lot about myself and my ability to juggle things in order to reach multiple goals.

I ended up having a brilliant final year at university, despite how manic it was at times. I came out with three student media awards, a first class English Literature degree, no overdraft, friends for life and the Cardiff Award. The things that I learnt on the Cardiff Award mainly fell into two categories. Some of them were taught (such as presentation skills and how to use social media to job hunt) while others were self-taught and experienced (such as commitment, perseverance, confidence and self belief). There was nothing, though, that I did for my Cardiff Award that I thought was a waste of my time.

When I started job searching after my course finished at the end of May, I felt equipped to face the harsh reality of post-uni life. Within a month of finishing uni, I had secured an internship in a creative agency within my ideal industry. I wholeheartedly believe that participating in the Cardiff Award got me that internship, which has now turned into a full time permanent job. The certificate itself is one thing, but all of the little tips, tricks, insights and challenges I encountered along the way proved to be invaluable lessons I will hold on to for life.

Welcome Cardiff Freshers 2014!

In less than 2 weeks Cardiff University welcomes thousands of new students.  If that’s you then CONGRATULATIONS!  You must be experiencing a wealth of emotions and no doubt extremely excited about what lies ahead.

You have made a great decision choosing Cardiff!  I can say that because not only did I study here myself, I loved it so much I took a job here after my graduation.

Cardiff is a great City, small enough for you not to get lost and big enough to explore.  We have something for everyone coffee shops, bars, nightclubs, culture and sport to name but a few!

Then there’s the University and,as my teenage daughter would say,OMG!  You’re going to love it. Located in heart of the City, with historic buildings, great facilities and the BEST Student’s Union. Okay, so I may be slightly biased here but it really is one of the biggest and best in the country.  It boasts an amazing elected officer team that are there to support you throughout your university life, and has undergone a major re-vamp (they have been busy creating new venues this summer and the redeveloped nightclub Y Plas is going to be amazing!).

One piece of advice I can give to you is to really get involved in the University experience.  I implore you not to just come here to study, get along to the Societies, AU and volunteering fairs that take place week commencing Monday 22nd September and get involved.    Participating in such extra-curricular activities will not only help with you the transition to University (you’ll definitely meet new people and make friends), but it will also allow you to develop a wealth of transferable skills that employers look for.  Now, I realise many of you are not thinking about graduation yet, and I don’t blame you – you need take time to settle in to University.  But, there is no denying that many that come to University would like a great job following graduation.  Getting involved in activities offered through the Union is a great way of becoming more employable, without you even realising it.

The Cardiff Award

So, if you do decide to take my advice, come and see the Cardiff Award team during Freshers (we’ll be at all the fairs), We can talk to you about how your extra-curricular activities can help develop your skills, your confidence and ultimately your employabiity; and explain how participating in the Cardiff Award will teach you how to sell the skills you develop as  result of your extra-curricular activities to future recruiters.  

 

I wanted to share with you a brief presentation, that gives reasons why you should participate in the Award – click here to view.

Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #CardiffFreshers14 for event updates and make sure you visit the Students’ Union website.

Again congratulations and I look forward to seeing some of you soon!

Kath

What’s New for The Cardiff Award? Lots Actually:

I can’t believe we are only weeks away from the start of another term!  It’s been a busy summer, the Award team have been bringing in new sponsors and organising exciting sessions and networking events for the 2014–2015 programme.  We have never had such a large cohort to look after – there are currently 60 students due to finish in December and another 250 started the programme back in June, some of which I have yet to meet and look forward to doing so in October.

As you know from my last post, I was really sad to see the 2013-2014 students leave, some are still here studying but many have graduated and are at the start of a new journey.  I do hope to keep in touch with them all and I know some will be back for future Award networking events (to those of you reading this make sure you drop me an email every now and again!).  It is really satisfying to see Award alumni do so well, every day my LinkedIn account is asking me to congratulate someone who has just found a new role!

New Logo

 

So what are the plans for this year?

Firstly, we have new branding, out with the old blue circle and in with a fresh, modern design, we do hope you like it!

 

Secondly, we have new sponsors:

  • Blake Morgan (a leading UK law firm)
  • Net Support UK (Net Support UK specialises in providing IT support and services to a wide range of businesses and sectors across Cardiff, Newport, South Wales and the rest of the UK.)
  • ACCA ( (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants)
  • CADW (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service working for an accessible and well-protected historic environment for Wales.)
  • ACE Cardiff (A local charity running multiple projects in Cardiff, working with disadvantaged children, unemployed people and older people.

All will be involved in the Award, through workshops, networking events and assessments.  Morgan Blake are even offering work experience to a lucky Awardee!

Thirdly, we have some new networking events and workshops.  Following on from the successful Creative Industry event of last year, the next term will see a repeat of this, plus an event for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics  (STEM) sector and one for the third sector.  We also have trips to EY in Bristol up for grabs, mock technical interviews as well as the popular Social Media, CVs and assessment centre sessions.

Finally - and this is really exciting – this term we launch the Champions Life Academy Cardiff Award Student of the Year!  This Award recognises students that have excelled during the programme.  As we have 2 intakes this year there will be 4 awards in total:

  • 2 Student of the Year Awards (one for each cohort), winners will receive a £100 cash prize and an engraved glass trophy
  • 2 Special Commendations (one for each cohort), winners will receive a £50 cash prize and an engraved glass trophy

The winners will be announced at the end of year celebration event, taking place in June 2015.   A huge thank you to Champions Life Academy for sponsoring this Award!  They are a great organisation that share our ethos of ensuring students leave university with a wealth of skills and able to gain successful employment.  Visit their website and look at their amazing Easter and Summer internships.

If you are not doing the Cardiff Award then maybe you should think about it – not only do you get official recognition for your extra-curricular activities, you get to meet employers, the chances of gaining graduate employment are improved, you could win work experience as a result of being involved and you might even be the Cardiff Award Student of the Year – how good does that sound!

We have 500 spaces for a January 2015 start.  Applications open September 29th, 2014 and close December 12th – we will close early if sufficient applications are received.  Check out this Prezi for information on how to apply.

That’s all from me.

Kath

 

Get out of your comfort zone – Apply to The Cardiff Award

ca-blog-header1.jpg

As the first semester of a new university year is fast approaching all universities students’ start to question their abilities and skills.

Unfortunately the careers we hope to achieve do not come with a wave of the fairy Godmothers wand.

Employers are looking for individuals who not only have a good degree but can demonstrate their initiative and self confidence effectively.

In my opinion your degree alone is not enough to equip you with the necessary skills to outshine other candidates. Job hunting can be cut throat.

The big question is how can you make yourself stand out?

Apply to The Cardiff Award!

See our 2014 video on YouTube.

The Cardiff Award is an employability award that recognises student’s extra-curricular activities and work experience.

It provides students with a support system, encouraging work based opportunities and internships.

The Cardiff Award also hosts invaluable workshops and networking events; exclusive to participating students only.

This all enables Cardiff Award students to become a part of the top achievers.

Every Fresher and current university student will be faced with new opportunities and challenges throughout their university life.cardiff-award-20121.jpg

Each one can and will shape your future self and your future career.

So why not apply to The Cardiff Award?

*Apply for one of the 400 Cardiff Award places in September to begin in January 2015 (More information on the application process will be available on our blog and our Twitter page soon!)*

Blogger: Meaghan Crancher

Experience is necessary: Post by Alexander Franklin

mourinho blog post

“Unfortunately, the Cardiff Award scheme does not include a module with the UEFA Pro License so my Champions League dreams will remain unfulfilled for now.”

 

2014 has been a year of realisation. A disastrous first spell on the ice dashed hopes of becoming the new Wayne Gretzky, and an 18 month long tussle with War and Peace came to an abrupt end with Tolstoy the clear winner. One of the more serious realisations came whilst looking over my CV. I’ve always considered myself to be a reasonably competent individual with a range of skills that would be useful in the workplace, but in reading my CV I realised that I really had no way of demonstrating this. Bar my academic history, a short stint as a double-glazing salesman, and a summary of my extra-curricular achievements, I had nothing to say. I struggled and stared for a while, coming across another harsh realisation that ‘Winning the Premier League with Newport County on Football Manager’ was not a suitable addition to the CV of a 20 year old soon-to-be graduate.

I required experience. I needed a way to both demonstrate and develop skills that I had and also learn new skills. Watching my career-minded and business-savy housemates apply for a plethora of internships and placements with little luck made me realise just how competitive the corporate world is. I could claim to have all the skills in the world on my CV but no way to prove it. My connection with the corporate world has been limited as it’s always been in my mind that ‘I can do it later’ or ‘I’m too young to be worrying about this, I’ve got years left.’ Well, times up. I realised I needed to improve myself as a person and as a potential employee, but that would not be enough. I needed to stand out.

You’re reading this on the blog for the Cardiff Award so you know where this is going.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky.

A former housemate of mine was a participant in the Cardiff Award 2013-2014. As he regularly referenced it, I eventually asked about the scheme and its benefits and it was after this conversation that I knew I needed to apply. It sounded like the opportunity to develop myself both personally and commercially in the way I needed to. It was time to start thinking about my career path. I’m sure ‘Present Alex’ is going to have to put in some serious graft for this scheme but ‘Future Alex’ will thank him.

I have no idea where I want to be after I graduate. I never have. I’m hoping that in twelve months, when I write my final post to you I will be able to say with confidence that I know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. I have the utmost confidence that the Cardiff Award is going to help me with that. Maybe I’ll have finished War and Peace and be on my way to beating Gretzky’s NHL records too. First I need to learn to skate. One page at a time, one step at a time.

"By the end of the Cardiff Award I hope to have developed the business acumen to make me a right Don Draper"

“By the end of the Cardiff Award I hope to have developed the business acumen to make me a right Don Draper”

 

Alex Franklin

Follow me on Twitter @welshfrankie

My year in 1120 words: post by The Award Manager, Kathryn Foot

Well here we are again – the end of another year.  This job is really no good for me – the years fly by and I keep getting older, much quicker than I’d like!  This year has been another brilliant year. 3 years in and I wonder how the next programme could be as good as the previous one – it always is though.

I have to be honest this year has been hard.  We started the programme back in June 2013, with over 200 students, the most yet.  And if that wasn’t enough we took an extra 70 in January 2014!  For those of you that are familiar with the programme, you will know it is rigorous.  We have set high standards but that’s great for the participants; one sponsor this year said:

“The Cardiff Award is the one of the best awards that we sponsor!”

Me: March 2014!

Me: March 2014!

What an accolade.

So, the challenge for the Award team (which is actually only 2 people!) was to maintain the high standard achieved in previous years, with a lot more people. There were times during the year the simply were not enough hours in the week to do it all, the metaphorical plates were spinning - I didn’t know which one to tend to!  But somehow we got there, 145 students passed the Award in May (the Award ceremony was held recently – check out Rhian’s blog) and we still have 64 students on the programme due to complete in December.

 

In keeping with previous posts, here are my highs and lows:

Lows (we’ll start with this so we end on a high!!):

  • Consistent with last year I have to put losing students into this category; we lost around 30% this year for a variety of reasons, some failed at various stages and did not re-submit, some struggled with the additional workload the Award brings, others dropped out before submissions saying they had got so much already they didn’t need to “pass”.  I endeavour to keep people on the programme (last year I recall saying about how I take it personally – this is still the case, I often wonder if there was anything I could have or should have done).  However the Award is an extra-curricular programme, and, as is the nature of these programmes, people will leave.  The Award isn’t for everyone and for those that pass, it makes it even more meaningful.
  • I have already made reference to this but one of the struggles has been the workload. At certain times of the year my kids would ask me when I was coming home!  At the end of the day though I think most people who work in skills awards feel like they are doing the job of 2 people, but we do it because we love it – it is such a rewarding role and the students involved make it great, so we just crack on, at least there’s no time to get bored!

 Highs (there are so many I really don’t know where to start):

  • On a personal level this has been an epic year!  I was accepted onto the AGCAS Skills Awards Board (who develop best practise and produce guidelines for award schemes across the UK). I delivered a webinar to industry professionals on my employer engagement, and have been invited to speak at 2 nationwide conferences, so I must be doing something right!
  • This year’s cohort have again been brilliant, I have met so many wonderful and inspiring individuals (I go home and tell my children that that’s what I want them to be like when they grow up!).  The students I work with are an absolute credit to themselves their families and the University, I feel privileged to be able to work with them.
  • This year’s programme has been a huge success; the focus group was really positive and we were able to implement some worthwhile changes for the 2014-2015 programme.  The evaluation was a pleasure to read:

- 100% would recommend the Award to their peers.
- 48% have already found graduate employment/work experience and 88%      attribute some of their success to the Award.  This figure does not include the  many that have found employment in the last week – I have had 4 emails this  week alone from Award students being offered contracts!
- 90% of the Computer Science students on the Award obtained a placement  year or a graduate role.
- All who participated felt more work ready than not and a very high percentage  felt the Award had developed existing or new skills.

  • Employer engagement this year has been second to none, 10 of us visited Centrica HQ for a mock assessment centre (what an experience), 1 student won work experience with law firm Watkins and Gunn, new sponsors IBM offered 2 consultancy experiences for Award students only, and I have had great feedback from all our other sponsors on the high calibre students involved with the Award.
  • This year I was short-listed for the Enriching Student Life Award too!  Sadly, I didn’t win but making the short-list for the third time in three years is pretty special!
  • The Vice-Chancellor attending the Award Ceremony was a perfect end to the year; it shows how highly the University regard the Award.  Receiving an email from the VC following the event was also pretty special and a great way to end the year.

I could go on but you get the idea!

award do

 

 

 

 

 

 

Award Ceremony

I wanted to thank our principal sponsors EY and all the other sponsors for their efforts this year along with the the brilliant people I work with across the University.  There are too many to name but include:

  • staff from the Students’ Union especially the  elected officers, John Steele and Kelly from SDS, CU Enterprise, SVC, Tracey from Marketing and the catering team,
  • all my colleagues in Careers and Employability, including my partner in crime Helen Lloyd!
  • to my friends in Registry, and
  • the wealth of staff across the three academic colleges.

 

 

 

I also want to thank the Award students, for pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, for their participation, for their effort and for their personalities – we have had some laughs this year amidst the hard work!  Good luck to you all; you have very bright futures ahead of you and keep in touch!

My final thought: I recently attended an Awards skills conference at MMU.  Pro Vice-Chancellor Penny Renwick gave the opening address and she made a key point: if skills awards are going to engage students then they need to be fun.  I am proud to say I firmly believe we have achieved this with the Cardiff Award.

I look forward to continuing to working with the Jan 2014 cohort and bring on the next programme!

Best wishes, Kathryn