In January I started my role as a Graduate Intern in the Outreach and Widening Participation team here at the University of Sheffield. The HEPPSY+ project, which I am working within, aims to increase participation in South Yorkshire, North East Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire where participation in Higher Education is lower than would be expected based on GCSE results. I’ve always believed that university is a powerful tool that enables social mobility, and so when the opportunity came up to talk about how much I enjoyed my time at university I snatched it like it was a free pen at a careers fair.
I completed my BSc in Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 2014 and last year completed my PGCE. During the PGCE, I learnt a lot about myself and discovered that I enjoyed talking to young people about their interests, but enjoyed marking books and assessments much less. With this valuable lesson behind me I come to this role with knowledge of the modern education system and an insight how school students may react to events and interactions.
I write this blog almost exactly a month into the role, and what a whirlwind it has been. As a person new to both the city (I moved in a day before the job started) and the University, I’ve had to do a lot of learning very quickly. I spend most of my free time rock climbing and moved to Sheffield to be close to the temple of rock which is the Peak District. I spent a lot of weekends in and around Sheffield and quickly discovered that it was the perfect place for me.
The outreach team has helped me settle in very quickly and comfortably. They have been incredibly generous with their time and patience with my questions about work and life in the city. I now have enough restaurant recommendations to last me several lifetimes.
I’ve assisted a veritable plethora of events. I’ve seen Year 10 students enter the eternal debate of ‘who killed the princes in the tower’, program racing robots and create the ‘perfect poo’ (whilst learning about microbes and microbiomes). I’ve helped Year 9 students build towers and experience the world class engineering faculty at the Diamond. I’ve spoken to hundreds of pupils about life at university and the long term benefits it can provide at several events. That’s just the first month!
On top of the events, I’ve been in the process of supporting the organisation of the newly created Scholars Plus program of events. The 3 day non-residential Easter and summer schools are an extension of the Scholars Program which is organised by the Brilliant Club. Over the course of three of these events we will work with 15 schools and 90 students to give them the full experience of university life, both academically and socially. I will be delivering several of the activities in the Scholars Plus program, and am very much looking forward to seeing the events flourish.
Graduate internships are all about developing a range of skills and experience and I am excited for the prospect of gaining both of these during the year, as well as starting my life in Sheffield.