University is a great place to explore things both within and outside your chosen area of study. This blog post will give you an insight into how I’ve done this. I spent my free time engaging with different activities while boosting my employability at university.
As a Student Ambassador, I delivered a Student Life Talk and held seminars for prospective students. I enjoyed learning from these students about the types of things they looked for in a university. I then developed leadership skills, supporting students with personal statement and motivation workshops. Also, I provided mathematics revision guides.
The University advertises its positions on a popular platform called Handshake. I sourced a part-time job with High Fliers Research as a University Manager. I rolled out graduate market research amongst University of York finalists and coordinated student research. This included questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. My efforts improved employers’ understanding of what graduates look for in entry-level roles. This felt really rewarding!
I recommend scouring the University website for scholarships or bursaries which you may be eligible for. Towards the tail end of my first year, I was awarded the Laidlaw Scholarship . This allowed me to undertake a period of funded independent research under the guidance of a supervisor. Firstly, I conducted quantitative research into high school mathematics attitudes. This fed into my exploration of how best to install far East Asian teaching methods into UK teaching frames with lasting effect. Also, I took part in a rigorous leadership programme and earned a CMI Level 5 qualification in Leadership in Management. This incredible opportunity allowed me to develop my writing and communication skills. I was then featured as a speaker at the YorNight 2020 Science Cabaret event!
The Laidlaw Foundation launched a 6-week Leadership-in-Action programme. I worked alongside scholars from all over the world. We helped to re-engage and mobilise students, parents and teachers with education. This was in light of the devastating effects brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During my Digital Creativity Labs Research Scholarship, I worked alongside a fellow student under the supervision of leading experts within the field of Game Design. Our study focused on the problematic nature of in-game monetisation methods. We conducted rigorous background literature research, detailed our rationale and analysed the quantitative responses from our survey participants.
York Students in Schools
The Careers and Placements team are incredible. The amount of opportunities they showcase to students are endless! Through Handshake (again), I found an internship with York Students in Schools (YSIS). I investigated the engagement levels of international students with the volunteering opportunities on offer. I enjoyed structuring and carrying out my own qualitative research project. This included transcribing interviews with staff at local York schools and volunteers, and piecing together my findings.
I volunteered as a Student Manager with YSIS. Here I logged DBS checks and shared about my experiences of volunteering with the group. I secured two volunteering placements tutoring Maths to underprivileged students at local schools. Not only was this role rewarding, but the support I received from YSIS and the partnering schools helped me to grow in confidence.
My work with YSIS made me realise how much I loved interacting with students. This then prompted me to apply for the role of a MathSTYM (Mathematics Second and Third Year Mentor) with my department. I welcomed new undergraduates to the University. This involved attending their first seminar and lending a helping hand throughout their first year.
York has over 200 societies! One of these is York Community Consulting (YCC). This is a pro-bono student-led consulting group that works with real-world clients. Here I had the privilege of leading the Technology Team in my role of Technology Director. I amplified data-driven decision-making through analytics, user research and client-relationship management. I also introduced employee engagement feedback surveys, increased team communication and drew upon user insight. It felt exciting to be a part of a group of students from subject backgrounds because I would not meet them in my day-to-day activities.
Work aside, I co-captained James College Squash and played for the university Squash Team.I enjoyed promoting women within squash and liaising with other colleges over fixtures. Finally, I learnt how to boast the ball just above the red line! University is a great place to get involved with sport at college and/or university level. It’s also a great way to de-stress and take your mind off of your work or studies for a bit.
I outlined the above experiences when I told my now future employer why I would make a good actuary. In my second interview, I drew upon the transferable skills I had gained along the way, such as excellent time management and attention to detail. Now, because I have secured a job does not mean that it’s the end of my research-driven road! Until my graduate scheme starts in September, I will be filling my time as a Research Intern with the School of Natural Sciences. I’ll be working alongside a fellow student to test engagement levels with Natural Sciences at the admissions stage. Also, we’ll be looking at how best we can bring in more students of different ethnicities and low-participation neighbourhoods.
In conclusion, always remember that some experience is better than no experience.. Every student has a different threshold on how many activities they can manage alongside their studies. Do what’s best for you and make sure that you prioritise your wellbeing first!