February 18, 2015, by Jacqui Storey
Award winning community project
On a bright afternoon in early February, I found myself having afternoon tea with the Vice Chancellor and the Head of University Security, wondering quite how this had happened and whether I was still in bed having one of ‘those’ dreams. Strange as it was, I quickly realised it wasn’t quite weird enough to inhabit my dream life; it was all part of the Vice Chancellor’s Achievement Award ceremony and I and an amazing team of staff and students were being presented with our own award in recognition of the IT Community Consultants Project.
Such events can be a little formal and even awkward but there was a genuinely joyful atmosphere as around 40 people from across the University collected certificates and medals for ‘exceptional achievement’ before being served afternoon tea. The IT Community Consultants Project is a truly collaborative project that brings together students from the School of Computer Science with staff from Careers, IT Services and Community Partnerships. The students work in small teams to provide consultancy to local community organisations who often have no in-house IT expertise and no budget to pay for consultants.
IT Services staff act as mentors and technical advisors to the project which ensures the quality of the consultancy. This is further added to by development sessions run by the Careers and Employability Service leading to students completing a Nottingham Advantage Award Module. My role is to recruit organisations and help develop projects that would challenge the students yet provide something of value to organisations.
There can be nothing more rewarding than receiving feedback from participants such as the Nottingham Elders Forum who said, “The team were absolutely superb and so professional; we couldn’t have had a better one if we’d paid a huge sum for their services”. Equally, students tell us how much the project has benefitted them. Christopher Nicholl was part of the award winning team and has now graduated. He said, “The project gives me an extra advantage over other candidates for jobs as I now have hands on experience.”
The team would agree that we never set out to gain reward or recognition for the project as seeing the impact it makes is reward enough in itself. However, to be formally recognised in such an enjoyable way does make it feel that little bit more special. Having an opportunity to take tea with fellow award winners, the Vice Chancellor and many other senior staff from the University made it an afternoon to remember.