We asked Cardiff Award alumni and Students’ Union President Sophie why she joined the Award as a student, the benefits she gained from completing the programme and any advice she has for student’s thinking about applying.
Why did you complete the Cardiff Award?
I signed up to do the Cardiff Award during my final year at University after hearing about it from a friend who recommended it. I had tried signing up for internships but got as far as the second round of psychometric tests and just didn’t feel prepared for them. I missed out on the final interview because, to me, it was all a bit new and I had no idea just how to go about them especially given the last time I’d done anything maths related was back during GCSEs.
The Cardiff Award was a great platform for me to gain help with preparation for psychometric tests and assessment centres when it came to applying for graduate schemes, and also allowed me to gain some extra recognition for all the extra-curricular activities I’d given a go during the year. If anything, it also encouraged me to try other types of activity where I met other like-minded students and networked with a variety of different departments in the university, the Students’ Union and other employers too.
What sort of activities did you record?
You can only record the activities you have carried out whilst you’re signed onto complete the Cardiff Award. Some of the activities I recorded included attending additional workshops, an open day at PwC (I’ve always wanted to do Management Consulting or a Graduate Leadership role so this fit in nicely!), I had a part-time job at Boots UK so I was able to record the hours I’d worked from that, and I’m a competitive Ballroom and Latin dancer so my training (numerous hours!) counted towards the Cardiff Award as well as the Dancesport sessions I coached.
Not only does the Cardiff Award prepare you for applying to graduate schemes and internships, and allow you to gain extra recognition for all the exciting opportunities you’ve grasped, it does make you realise how all these exciting activities enhance lots of different and transferable skills which you can apply to future career applications.
How does it apply to your role as Students’ Union President?
My role as President involves representing a population of 30,000 students to ensure they have the most positive student experience at Cardiff University. I know how important it is to communicate with students to understand how to improve their time at University but also to communicate the positive changes made following their feedback. The Cardiff Award taught me a variety of things including how to communicate effectively with different stakeholders from students, to staff at the SU, to NUS, members of the University, and even the Vice Chancellor, how to be organised, and most importantly, how to reflect. I spend a lot of time as President reflecting on for example, either how an event was run, or how the team worked together, or I spend a lot of time reflecting on whether I have learnt or handled something the way I would do if I had to do it again. All these skills are so important in the role I am in today but also for the future Students’ Union President.
I lead the elected officer team – being exposed to different workshops and events throughout the Cardiff Award has given me the courage to take on this role and work with a passionate, hardworking team.
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about applying for The Cardiff Award?
The advice I would give to students who are thinking about applying for the Cardiff Award is… go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose. Be reflective, try something new, don’t leave all the reflection logs until the last minute (you’re better at reflecting straight after the activity has happened so you don’t miss anything), and make sure you balance it with your studies. The main thing is you do it because you believe it will benefit you in some way or another, stay calm and enjoy it! You’re exposed so many new opportunities so you don’t want to miss out. You meet a whole array of different people along the way so as cliché as it sounds, it really is a great way to make new friends!
Do you want to apply for the Cardiff Award?
Applications for this year’s programme are open! See our How to Apply page for further details.
Spaces are limited, apply early to avoid disappointment.