I started as a Graduate Intern in the Partnerships branch of the Outreach and Widening Participation team at the University at the beginning of this year. My role is part of the Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire (HEPPSY+), which supports young who are most at risk of missing out on Higher Education. The team are based at Sheffield Hallam University so I and my colleagues work really closely with staff spread across the city.
I was a student at the University of Sheffield for four years, studying for my undergraduate degree in law, and then for my master’s degree in international law. I graduated from my masters in January this year so it’s been a really exciting and busy month. I also worked as an Outreach Student Ambassador before starting this role, and so had gotten to know the team and the general way in which our events operate pretty well. Nevertheless, I’ve gained such an insight in to the inner workings of outreach and widening participation at the University, and I have learned more in one month as a Graduate Intern than I did in two years as an Ambassador!
The best part about the role so far has been the sheer variety; in the space of four weeks I assisted on large events with the Brilliant Club and Realising Opportunities, shadowed a STEM taster day for Year 9 students, as well as visiting 4 different schools and colleges in the Sheffield City Region for information and advice events. In between that, I’ve had heaps of training, the most enjoyable of which was definitely having a go in one of the University’s electric cars.
I finished my third week with a HEPPSY+ team away day at Kelham Island Museum, where we worked in teams to race cars which we built from cardboard boxes. Sadly, my team didn’t win, but it was a great day and gave me a chance to get to grips with the different people who work for HEPPSY+ across South Yorkshire.
My experience of the role so far has been really valuable, I’ve had so many chances to speak to students, staff and colleagues working across Sheffield and South Yorkshire about the impartial advice which students can receive in order for them to make informed choices about their future. I’ve also learned a lot about different recruitment procedures of the two universities in Sheffield, and have had the chance to work in our own Admissions team. My work here has informed the contact that I have with prospective students. I feel that I’m in a much better position to help students understand what happens after their application is sent, and to give them the best support that I can.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, I’ve also been working on a project called the Achievement Awards. This is a programme that the University has lead for a number of years, but HEPPSY+ funding is now being used to enhance marketing and publicising it to the students involved. My first task has been to script five animated promotional videos for the awards, and I spent a good chunk of my working week immersed in a world of total wipe-out courses and careers fairs run by aliens!
In the next few weeks I’ll be working more on other aspects of the Achievement Awards, visiting more of the schools that we work with, and shadowing the HEPPSY+ mobile classroom, a repurposed double decker bus on which young people can learn more about Higher Education. I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m excited to see it in practice and see more of the work that HEPPSY+ delivers.