Guest Blogger: Laura Carter, past Award Student and Current Student’s Union Women’s Officer

This week’s post comes from Laura Carter, Laura is a final year Modern History and Politics student.  Laura completed the Award in 2013-2014.  During her time on the Award she ran a successful Students’ Union officer campaign and subsequently was elected as the Student’s Union Women’s Officer (and yes she built up some great skills and Award hours doing this).  As Women’s Officer she works to represent women students’ interests, campaigns on any relevant issues at Union and University level and is doing an awesome job!  Find out what the Cardiff Award meant to her,,,

Laura Carter Bio picDoing the Cardiff Award really prepared me for running in the main elections!  As a result of particpating in the Award, my faith in my own abilities improved tremendously as well as my presentation and communication skills. Before starting the Award the prospect of having any leadership role, voluntary or otherwise, absolutely terrified me.’

I’m now in my final year looking to graduation, having completed the Award in my second year. Undertaking the Award and becoming Women’s Officer have definitely provided me with many of the skills I need in order to seek opportunities after graduation’

‘The ability to multi-task is essential in order to be a Campaign Officer, or just to be a well-rounded student in general! I’m simultaneously doing my dissertation whilst trying to represent the interests of all women students. The Cardiff Award really encourages you to get yourself involved in so many things to gain your hours, develop your skills and commitment too! Given the duration and commitment needed to do the Award, it definitely taught me that the most satisfying things you’ll achieve are those that were challenging in some respect -  like running in elections.  If you’re interested in applying for my role you can, now!  Nominations for my role close on Thursday, 5th February 2015. Find out more at cardiffstudents.com/elections.

 

Guest Blogger: Elliot Howells, President, Cardiff University’s Student Union (he’s completed the Award too you know!)

Hi all,  Kath here – the Cardiff Award Manager.  This month we have some special guest bloggers.  Past Award students that are now elected officers in the Students’ Union;  massive roles that impact on all students at Cardiff University.  There are currently 3 Elected Officers in post that have completed the Award, a fact I am immensely proud of, and shows the close working relationship the Award has with the Union.  It is also evidence of the level of engagement Award students have with the Union and how passionate they are about the University.  Your Elected Officers do an amazing job representing you, and if you apply for the Award who knows where it may lead (Students’ Union elections are open now and the deadline is approaching – Feb 5th!)!  Our first guest blogger is a very prestigious individual – no other than the President himself, Elliot Howells.  Here’s what he has to say about the Cardiff Award:

elliot howellsI’m Elliot, the Students’ Union President and to be honest, I’m not sure I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for my experiences while on The Cardiff Award.

I’ve always been the kind of person that takes any opportunity available to me so University was never just my studies to me. In both my first and second year, I juggled various society activities, part time jobs, hobbies outside of University and ran my own business.

It’s for this reason, The Cardiff Award was perfect for me. It gave me the opportunity to get formal recognition for activities I was already involved in. It also made me realise the value of these activities and made me sit down and reflect on how I’d developed personally while doing them.

I then went on to run for the position of VP Societies & Campaigns and was successfully elected. The experiences I had were like no other and I wasn’t ready to leave the Students’ Union. I decided to run for election again to be given another opportunity to enact change.

STUON

The Award is so much more than a few sessions and workshops to develop skills. It’s unique in the sense that we get to work closely and continually with the University’s career team and get further opportunities that may not have been available to us before. The networking events are a fantastic way to meet top recruiters in an informal setting that may lead to a potential career. I was fortunate enough to be employed by Microsoft as a Student Brand Manager earlier in the year, purely from the relationships I’d built with the Award’s team. This alone has led to so much more and has given me a far better idea of my future goals.

It’s fantastic to be involved in the Award’s development too. In my current role, I sit on the Award’s development board and to see how far it’s come in such a short space of time is amazing. The opportunities you get to develop in a way which is tailored to you and your needs are really invaluable.

Following my year as President, I will go on to complete my studied in Business Information Systems in the school of Computer Science and Informatics. During my final year, I will be applying for graduate roles and I don’t think I would feel anywhere near this prepared to do that without the skills, contacts and experience I picked up on the Award. The role of President is an odd one, I don’t have a specific remit like Education or Welfare, or even a specific group of students I represent, like Women or Healthcare students. For this reason, it’s hard to say what a typical day is like. However, by working with leading graduate recruiters that I met while completing the Award, I have an awareness of what employers are looking for and can draw out specific experiences that will hopefully make my application stand out.

If you’re considering applying, go for it; it really is a no-brainer. It’s by no means easy, but the value gained from the experience will far outweigh the time taken to attend a few sessions or reflect on your development. It also means you get your CV and application forms looked at by employers before you apply for real.

If you want to know more about my experience on the Award or my role as President, please get in touch. My telephone number is 029 20781 404 and my email is SUPresident@Cardiff.ac.uk.

Good luck with your applications, (get them in by January 23rd)!

Elliot

 

P.S. Nominations for my role close on Thursday, 5th February 2015. Find out more at cardiffstudents.com/elections. 

Volunteering and the Cardiff Award. The Perfect Match! Post by Rebecca Dabill

imageAs an enthusiastic, motivated undergraduate from the School of Social Sciences (Eductation) I thought I was the bee’s knees. I was in my final year of my degree at a prestigious university with plenty of voluntary and paid work experience under my belt.Then I joined the Cardiff Award in September of third year and I felt like my eyes were opened to the world of employability.  I learnt how to make myself employable and realised that stating all the different hours work experience you had completed doesn’t necessarily make employers want you. I began to recognise all the skills I had gained and how they had developed and still were developing through my voluntary and paid work.
The Cardiff Award was brought up in every interview I had after I graduated and employers were all very impressed by it. I felt it definitely helped me to prepare for my interviews and taught me how to show off my skills and answer situational questions. Due to the skills gained from completing the Cardiff Award I was able to secure a graduate job in August working for a charity, Student Volunteering Cardiff (SVC), based in Cardiff University’s Students’ Union

 

 

imageSVC is a student led organisation that relies on students giving their time to help others in the community. It is run by students who make up a board of trustees, they generally put in 200-400 hours in a year. Volunteer coordinators run the day to day running of the projects and usually put in 100-200 hours per year. Volunteers who attend our projects each week usually put in around 30 hours a year. All of these hours will be recognised through the Cardiff Award programme.
SVC volunteers not only help disadvantaged people but also develop a large skill set which is developed over time; the Cardiff Award gives you the skills to recognise this. Self-reflection is one of the hardest skills to grasp but the Award will guide you through this. Through self-reflection you will be able to see how you are developing and in which areas. This will also aid you to see which skills need more development. It’s all well and good telling employers what you have done but it’s no use to them if you can’t explain the skills that you’ve developed through these activities, even if it is a long list.
Volunteering for SVC and the Cardiff Award go hand in hand; you will be recognised for all your commitment to SVC and you will learn valuable employability skills that are vital in today’s graduate job market.

 

For more information on SVC visit www.svcardiff.org.

The Cardiff Award is Changing…

You’ve probably seen that the Cardiff Award is recruiting for its new programme.  We have 500 spaces, meaning this will be our biggest intake ever.  This is hugely exciting, but it has meant we have needed to make some changes to ensure we maintain the quality.  We pride ourselves on our students’ ability to gain employment after completing the Award and this is something we want to keep, even with larger numbers!

The Award is also student-led so some of the changes are a result of student feedback.  These changes will make the Award easier to fit in around some degree schemes, so more inclusive.

So what has actually changed?

Firstly, we’ve reviewed our assessment processes.  In previous programmes, students had to complete a presentation.  Although we recognise the value of this, we are also aware that it puts off a huge number of students.  Therefore, we have taken the decision to remove this as an option.  For those students who want to compete a presentation, they will be encouraged to undertake the Skills Development Services’ Communications Certificate.  To gain this they must complete a presentation and can use the Award as their topic.  The bonus here is Award participants will gain an additional industry-recognised certificate and the activity also counts towards the Award!  To replace the presentation, Award students will be expected to produce a reflective account that considers the skills developed and where that will take them in the future. Gaining a bit if career focus so early in your uni life can only be good thing surely?!

Secondly we have changed the compulsory workshop structure. As a result of feedback we realised the current requirements are confusing (students must attend 6 Award specific sessions during term time) and students with lots of contact time often struggle to make them. So in its place will be an employability seminar. This day event (duration to be confirmed) is backed by industry (EY and Enterprise Rent a Car are developing content as I type!). All students attending will receive an additional industry-backed certificate and it means the compulsory sessions will be over and done with in a day. Bonus! It makes the process easier to follow and to engage with. They will take place throughout the year on evenings and weekends. Even better, they will be delivered to large groups so you’ll get to know others on the Award. Who knows we may even follow the event with a social!

The new process is explained below. We are excited and we hope you are too. The Award truly is a valuable programme, proven to build skills, confidence and help those involved get the jobs they actually want.

Get your application in soon. Deadline is December 12th. Visit www.cardiff,ac.uk/cardiffaward for details on how to apply.

Award Process

EY: Professionalism and Branding: Post by Alexander Franklin

 

New LogoWhat is a brand? Is it just a logo? A name? What connotations does a brand have? For example, what comes to mind when you think of Ferrari compared to Ford? What does this have to do with professionalism? Quite a lot actually.

 
I attended a session through the Cardiff Award ran by EY about professionalism and branding. Similar questions were asked, regarding brands and their connotations. Until then, I’d never really thought about it. What was my brand? How did people view me as a brand compared to how I saw myself? The session with EY has helped create some solid answers to these questions.

As a graduate applying for schemes, one of the more important aspects I place on
deciding where to apply is the brand of the company. Seeing just the name alone of the
companies I have researched can make the prospect of working for these firms genuinely
exciting. There is a reason that these brands are so worldwide and global, it is their
inherent success and the thought of getting involved in it that is something that interests
me greatly. It was not until the session with EY that I realised that this works both ways.
Whilst we often have only a CV and covering letter to communicate who we are, as
individuals we are all the more employable when we are able to portray a consistent brand
both within our actual application and face to face interaction.

Alex Franklin‘Alex Franklin PLC’ (okay, no PLC yet…) needs to become a brand associated with the blend of creativity and professionalism that I pride myself on. It’s all well and good claiming you have all manner of skills, but without being able to back that up and prove it’s part of your brand then you’re going to get nowhere fast. ‘Alex Franklin Inc.’ also needs to be able to demonstrate effective leadership skills and man-management. Once again, it’s not just all about talk and having a record of this is a vital part of creating your brand. Being able to back up your claimed skills and attributes with experience is something that will go a long way to further enhancing your brand.

I hope that throughout my final year at university, through my studies, extracurricular work and of course the Cardiff Award, I will be able to develop, fine tune and sell the brand that is Alex Franklin ltd. As my Cardiff Award experience goes on, I’m beginning to understand more and more that employment is not just about having a nice CV with big numbers on it. I’ve got a bit of a way to go but I’m getting there. Many thanks to EY for running a great session and I look forward to the next one!

EY
Follow me on Twitter: @afranklin27

A Night with KPMG: Post by Lauren Evetts

1497472_10153765295550074_1423407054_nEarlier this semester I was invited to attend a KPMG Smart Session. As one of the leading providers of audit, tax and advisory services and ranked at number 23 in The Guardian UK 300, naturally I wanted to find out more about the company. The fact that they were offering a networking skills session to benefit students further appealed to me – it showed they care about us and our careers. I signed up straight away.

As I approached Barocco, the smart, stylish bar in which the event was to be held, I was pretty nervous. I’d never really been good at networking and worried I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to say. However, as soon as I entered the room my worries dissolved. I was the first to arrive – which could have been rather awkward – but the people from KPMG made me feel relaxed and at ease, offered me a drink, showed me to a table and chatted with me until more students showed up. The students at my table were a diverse bunch, from varied backgrounds and studying a range of subjects. We got on really well from the start – our similar career aims, nervousness and excitement united us!

We could tell from the paraphernalia on our table that the night was going to be a fun one, and we were not disappointed. At first we watched a video which gave us a feel for the company – its aims and what a career with KPMG involves. It answered a few of my questions and set the tone for the activities. We then took part in an icebreaker activity. We wrote our names, two truths and lie about ourselves on a sticker and attached it to ourselves. We then walked around the room, mingling with the other students and seeing how many lies we could discover. I wrote: ‘I have two cats. I have met Simon Cowell. I have a blue belt in Taekwondo.’ (Guess which is the lie!). This icebreaker was brilliant. I had a great time going up to people I’d never spoken to before and debating whether their dog was really called Timmy and asking how to play the Sitar. We only had a few minutes so unfortunately I didn’t get to speak to everyone but I could see the point of the activity – I had just successfully networked with about fifteen people without breaking a sweat.

Next up was the ‘Elevator Pitch’. In pairs, we practised how to effectively advertise ourselves and network with a person if we were in an elevator with them for 60 seconds. Some people were great at this – I wasn’t one of them! I decided to tell my partner about a project I’d run while working in pharmacy, not entirely coherently, and punctuated with lots of ‘ummmm’s and repeated words. It struck me how important it is to have a few words prepared for an occasion like this, and as soon as I got home I drafted a more effective Elevator Pitch. I must admit I had never heard of this term before and so I am grateful that KPMG brought it to my attention – hopefully it will come in useful one day!

The purpose of the group activity was to create a persuasive argument on a topic in eight minutes and to pitch it in two minutes to a member of staff. Our group had to convince Chloe to give out free breakfast to employees if they arrived to work before 8am. Everyone in my group felt strongly that this was a good idea and we worked well together to come up with incentives for providing this. We also decided to introduce a counter-argument into our pitch and thought of a few points to say to maintain our argument in spite of it. The pitch itself went smoothly, finishing exactly as the two minutes were up. We each had an opportunity to speak and made our points well. Chloe was impressed and we won some Smarties. Result!

The evening drew to a close with the opportunity to network for real. I spoke to everyone I wanted to, made some new friends and was able to introduce myself confidently and maintain interesting conversations. I am really impressed with the care and thought that went into the Smart Skills session. It was a fun and enjoyable evening which gave me a real flavour for KPMG and its values. This evening taught me some valuable skills and I now feel confident that I can successfully take on any networking event which comes my way. Thanks, KPMG!

kpmgFor more information about a career with KPMG visit http://www.kpmgcareers.co.uk/graduates

 

How the Cardiff Award helped me whilst on my industrial placement year. Post by Laura Pollock.

Note from Award Manager, Kathryn Foot: Laura completed the Award in 2012-2013.  She blogged about her Award experience following successful completion in May 2013.  Discover now how Laura felt the Award benefited her on her actual placement year:

The following is a reflective discussion of how the skills learnt during the Cardiff Award helped me to a) get my placement and b) on placement.

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In my second year at Cardiff University (2012-2013) I completed the Cardiff Award; an employability award that encourages students to undertake work experience or get involved in extra-curricular activities, then recognises and rewards students for their efforts.  In August 2013, as part of my 4 year psychology with professional placement degree, I went on to complete an industrial placement at Quest Partnership Ltd, a small occupational psychology firm in Gloucestershire.  quest

Quest Partnership is made up of a team of Occupational Psychologists who apply psychological principles to the world of business by working with organisations to optimise employee potential. This is achieved by designing innovative solutions to help in staff selection, employee development and talent management that incorporate psychometric testing and behavioral exercises to assess and develop performance.

The Cardiff Award encouraged me to develop my skill set through the 6 workshops we were required to attend as part of the scheme. These included problem solving, becoming a global leader and mock assessment centres. These workshops proved particularly useful whilst on placement as I experienced a number of occasions and situations whereby initiative and effective team working was imperative to solving real commercial problems. For example, it proved particularly useful when designing a new company website for Quest called testandassess.co.uk with the help of an external website designer. I needed to produce 5 key messages for the cover page and to do so had to use problem solving to evoke the Unique Selling Points of the website, from a customer’s perspective.  I did this by putting myself in their shoes and brainstorming ideas before categorising these into key themes and determining the right wording for the key statements.


“The Cardiff Award had given me a practice run as such for what to expect in a real life assessment centre.”


Similarly, the one on assessment centres, run by Enterprise-Rent-A-Car was useful as it gave me an insight into what to expect.   Prior to securing my placement I was involved in a real life assessment centre whereby the consultants at Quest measured a number of different skills they required from the placement student. Unlike other graduates who have never had any experience of this form of assessment and recruitment selection process I felt confident on the day because I knew what to expect from the assessment centre and also had an awareness of some of skills, aside of academia, they are looking for from University students. As part of the Cardiff Award we also had to complete a numerical reasoning psychometric assessment. The format of the ability test was similar to what I had to do on my assessment centre so having had this experience and passed previously made me a little less nervous. The Cardiff Award had given me a practice run as such for what to expect in a real life assessment centre.

I also perceive that, had it not been for the Cardiff Award and the Careers and Employablity department, my CV and application would never have even made through to getting me to an assessment centre in the first place. The talk from Aimee Bateman about what employers are looking for on a CV and how best to sell yourself was inspiring, whilst the support and feedback from the Cardiff Award team was invaluable in helping me to create a concise, yet comprehensive, skills-focused CV that I could send out to potential placement organisations.


“Students should fully embrace the opportunity …as the skills you learn during the year are relevant to any organisation.  Personally I perceive that the Cardiff Award was an important contributor to helping me secure my placement and also helping me to be the best I could whilst on placement. “


Whilst on placement, other transferable skills such as leadership, commercial awareness, self-engagement and drive that I had developed during the Cardiff Award were also advantageous. The Cardiff Award had prepared me with the foundation work skills making it far easier for me to develop and expand these further.

I strongly believe that the Cardiff Award has helped me to achieve my main aim of becoming well rounded, knowledgeable individual, with the skills to be a top performer for future employers and feel I have shown this through my year at Quest Partnership. It is endorsed by many industry organisations whom have helped to design its content, to ensure it has a real commercial context. Therefore students should fully embrace the opportunity if it arises as the skills you learn during the year are relevant to any organisation and personally I perceive that the Cardiff Award was an important contributor to helping me secure my placement and also helping me to be the best I could whilst on placement.

Thanks for reading!

Laura Pollock, 4th year Psychology student

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.

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