Cardiff Award student, Lucy, felt a little intimidated by the number of extra-curricular hours she needed to complete when starting the Award. She has now been able to do over 4 times the amount required…..
“Induction, 70 hours of extra-curricular activities, 5 employability workshops, a recruitment activity, CV clinic, a portfolio” – this is the list of required work I encountered as soon as the Cardiff Award sparked my interest. Intimidating, isn’t it? I know it put me off at first. Then I started crunching the numbers – 70 hours are, in fact, a little less than 9 full working days. A 10th day is needed for the workshops. I wanted to get some advice for my CV before starting to apply for summer internships anyway. Perhaps the portfolio would require a touch longer to organise.
It dawned on me – I was not willing to do roughly 15 days’ worth of hard work spread across a year? Was that truly the person I wanted to be? While my BA course in Media, Journalism and Culture does require a fair bit of reading, I was still a first-year student and my schedule wasn’t that crazy. I registered for the Cardiff Award in February, telling myself that even if it got a bit much, I could still drop out of the scheme and nothing would be lost.
The induction made me realise just how many students do take the extra step and leave university with a touch more than a diploma. While I expected quite an intimate little gathering, it turned out there were hundreds of Cardiff University students starting the programme with me. The most useful part of that hour was that it made clear what could count towards my extra-curricular hours. I had assumed it would have to be done through an internship or placement. However, Languages for All courses, Skills Development classes etc. can all be taken into account. As soon as the induction was over, I rushed to get my French Beginners course signed for. That was 20 hours already completed!
At first, I started slow, taking an extra lecture here and there, nothing too heavy but enough to make me feel productive. It is remarkable how many extra-curricular lectures the university organises. Academic skills courses, essay writing workshops, networking events – there was so much I hadn’t been aware of. In these events I began meeting more active students who were taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible – they would suggest other classes or experiences to me and, most of all, made everything sound fun and exciting. I signed up to contribute to Quench, our amazing student-led magazine. I also joined the Advice Team, which required me speaking to other students, giving directions and simply enjoying a day of socialising. When it came to looking for summer internships, I had already learned where and how to search for them and had no trouble finding work experience with a local magazine.
The more I took part in, the more motivated I was feeling. I could see that every little bit of extra effort was paying off. Suddenly, I was having a hard time fitting my CV into two pages. The positive answers to applications were definitely increasing. I found myself the Head of Design for Quench Magazine – a position which, while very demanding and time-consuming, is also among the most rewarding things I’ve done so far. Our recent rebranding, stressful and stretched across a month of designing and redesigning of possible logos, has received amazing feedback and has given me something to be proud of.
My completed Cardiff Award hours are now heading towards 300, but I’ve stopped counting – the numbers don’t matter anymore. The Cardiff Award is not about that extra line on the CV under “Certifications and achievements” – let’s face it, some employers might not even notice that. It is about giving students the motivation to do more, reach further. It is about finding one’s place among active, intelligent young people; learning to have a good work ethic; getting used to searching for opportunities rather than waiting for them to magically appear. I would advise any Cardiff University student to register for the Award – not because of the benefits of an extra certificate but for everything to be gained in the process of acquiring it.
Lucy Aprahamian, Media, Journalism and Culture student
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