City Connections: Caitlin Riley

I started as a Graduate Intern back in January based in the Faculty of Social Sciences Outreach team.  Before joining the Faculty as a Graduate Intern I worked within the University of Sheffield’s Outreach and Widening Participation team in a 3-month assistant role. This role really inspired me to want to gain more experience working in Outreach as well as other Higher Education events. I was also a student here at the University of Sheffield graduating from my undergraduate degree in BA History and Sociology in July, whilst studying I was a student ambassador and participated in voluntary outreach work with local primary schools.


Since starting my internship, preparation has been underway for City Connections 2018, a Times Higher Education nominated program. It brings current University of Sheffield widening participation students to London to visit 3 businesses and network with exceptional alumni who are working across the city. The aim of the program is to provide students with more connections in the city, help with career decision making and help students to become more commercially aware – as this is something that graduate employers state that students lack.

On the day we visited 3 different businesses and despite all being located in the same busy city they were all very different!

Stop 1 – AHMM Architects

Picture1Our first visit of the day was to AHMM and it soon became noticeable just how many University of Sheffield Alumni worked here!  The building was quirky to match its creative working environment. Students got to hear from the alumni and their many different routes that brought them to AHMM today and went on a tour of the buildings to see what working in an architect environment would be like. Obviously, this was an extremely useful experience for those on the trip studying Architecture but even those who don’t study it learnt that within an architects there are many other roles – we heard from a University of Sheffield alumni who worked in Law for the company and her comparison between representing a company and working for a larger firm, which definitely inspired some of the future lawyers in the room.

Stop 2- DLA Piper

Picture3Our second stop was at DLA Piper and it certainly was a different style office to the quirkiness of AHMM. Students had the opportunity to again, hear from Sheffield alumni, go on tours of the corporate building and speed network with different people from different departments. DLA Piper was a rewarding experience as students got to meet a range of people who were early career in the firm and those with more years experience.

Stop 3- EY

Picture4Our final stop took us to EY, located on the riverside of the Thames- a perfect stop for us to have a break from the hustle and bustle of London life in the sun and take in the experience before going into our final session. Whilst at EY we had a truly inspiring talk by Alison Kay, the Global Vice Chair for Industry, about flexibility, diversity, the tech revolution and leaning in. This really did engage several students leaving them feeling inspired and motivated, and was a personal highlight of the trip for me. Students then participated in an innovation game that made them think and develop new solutions to global problems.

Evening Networking event

Picture5The final part of our day included an evening networking event at EY with around 30 exceptional alumni working in the city. This provided a great opportunity for students to network with professionals who knew they were fairly new to it. This was a highlight of the day for a lot of the students who came out feeling a lot more confident about their skills and happy with the connections they had made. As I looked around the room, everyone was talking to the professionals and gaining as much as they could from the experience.

I am very proud to have played a role in the organisation of City Connections this year, it really is an inspiring and motivating day, which plays a great role in student development. As a recent graduate I am also really glad that I got to hear from so many Sheffield Alumni and have left the day feeling excited for the rest of my own professional development.

I want to say a big thank you to AHMM Architects, DLA Piper, EY and all the Sheffield Alumni who gave up their time to come and talk to us – it really does make a difference!

Watch the video below for more from City Connections

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