On Friday 8th October 2012, the Cardiff Award welcomed 194 students to its inaugural event, the Cardiff Award induction. Excited and maybe slightly nervous, participants were told what they should expect over the course of the year. This was followed by a big networking event where all participants were invited to CF10 in the Student’s Union for some networking over a buffet and drinks. It started with impact, and set the scene for the year. And what a year it has been! I have to be honest there have been many highs and lows; I’d like to share some with you:
The programme lost many students along the way for a variety of reasons: some we lost before we even started, others left after the induction, and some were put off by the numeracy test (sorry, but it is so important!). I always take losing people personally, I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help but think: ‘what more could I have done?’. In reality, with programmes such as this, losing people is all part of the process. The Award, I realise is not for all, it is a generic programme that tries to please everyone but this is not always possible and it might not always meet the expectations of some individuals. However, here at Award HQ we are always open to feedback and as a result the Award is constantly evolving and improving.
You may have read about the numeracy test on previous blogs. If I am honest this wasn’t the most popular aspect of the Award! A high percentage failed initially and this was hard to witness as it did knock people’s confidence. However we cannot escape from the fact that numeracy skills are essential, regardless of your career path. Obviously if you are applying for graduate schemes then you need to pass a numeracy test before you get interviewed! The Award provided bespoke maths support, to help those that needed it. This was delivered in conjunction with the brilliant Maths Support Service run by Dr Rob Wilson and a few Award students that delivered these sessions and helped their peers. As a result ALL passed! I cannot tell you how rewarding it was to see the relief on the faces of the students. Even better was the feedback received: “I am so glad I did that, I now know I can do this in the future”. Worthwhile, eh? Although initially that was a low, that could easily sit in with the category below.
So let’s look at the highs:
There have been so many of these, it is hard to put them all in words (I realise I am limited with my blog, I don’t want to lose my readers!). So where do I begin?
Firstly it was meeting an incredible bunch of students. I have the pleasure of building relationships with Cardiff Award students and all are inspiring. It’s always sad when the year ends and they move on (usually to fabulous jobs or internships) but I can feel satisfied knowing that the Award helped many (even if just a little bit) to achieve their goals.
I also love seeing the progress in people. One student, who shall remain nameless, said “I have always been a very shy person reluctant to talk to others, someone who even hated the thought of answering the phone, I cannot believe the transformation in my confidence…I feel like I have been given life skills that are both practical and professional”. That is priceless.
Sitting on the employer panels was a wonderful experience. The students performed to such a high standard. When a sponsor says “I am so glad we are investing in these bright individuals” I know the Award is meeting its aims. Another fantastic moment which I have to share, was finding out a student was fast-tracked to an assessment centre following a mock interview (and subsequently offered a graduate job)!
Being awarded the Enriching Student Life Award was a real highlight, this award comes from students, they nominate staff they feel deserve recognition. Wow! My speech that night was short; all I could manage was “amazing”. Being acknowledged for the work you do is truly humbling and makes me very proud.
On Friday 10th May we ended it all with the Award Ceremony; what an evening! It was held in the prestigious City Hall, with guest speakers including Leader of Cardiff Council, Heather Joyce, Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia Price and our very own Award alumnus and current Education and University Affairs Officer Beth Button. It was a remarkable occasion and very fitting for the successful participants.
We started big, we ended big and it was worth it. This year has given me some lasting memories and I am truly grateful to be part of such a fantastic programme that really brings out the best in people.
So it is with sadness in my heart that I say farewell to the 2012-2013 Award students. Thank you all for your hard work, your determination and for making my job so thoroughly enjoyable.
I look forward to welcoming the 2013-2014 participants in June! Hooray, I get to do it all again! Until then…