November 6, 2020, by Matthew Lumley

How the Advantage Award showed me the world through a new perspective

By Cara Chambers, BA Hons Geography

Throughout my Geography degree I have been encouraged to gain as much experience of the world as possible.  The Award has helped me achieve this by providing opportunities to consolidate skills that are vital before and after graduation. It opens doors to learn about different world perspectives and to ‘give back’ to sections of the community.

Discovering the skills my degree was teaching me

I first heard about the Award in a first year Career skills for Geographers module. It piqued my interest because, at the time, I wished to pursue a career in international development. I wanted to gain experience working with people and improve my communication skills. After the session, I discovered the breadth of modules offered by the Award. I started by choosing ones which I believed would best hone my employability skills.

In the module we looked at the different careers Geography students undertake as well as job interview and cognitive test practice. This was extremely useful as it alerted me to the range of skills that a degree in Geography offered us. The specificity of the module meant that it was very relatable and I found it easier to draft my CV. I was able to identify the skills I was already developing through the compulsory Geography statistical modules and essay writing that were most attractive to employers.

Immersing myself in the community

Next I undertook Inspiring Young People that accredited my work with the Into University – a volunteering scheme I have participated in throughout my time at the University. It involved mentoring a secondary school pupil to give them inspiration for university as well as helping them with their future ambitions and homework.

This was a great experience that enhanced my communication and time management skills. As a Geography student, I have often learnt about the world behind a ‘glass screen’ without direct interaction with the community – this module gave me that chance. After three years of involvement, I am still mentoring the same pupil and can now see the benefits of the rapport we have built up.

Making positive change

Lastly, during the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge I worked with a local not-for-profit organisation – Robin Hood energy – to provide solutions to social vulnerability caused by fuel poverty. I felt that I was making positive changes in the local community as well as learning how a third sector organisation functions. Consequently, Robin Hood Energy is now working on a premier landlord accreditation list for student houses with the university’s Students’ Union.

Deciding my future

The final two modules have helped me to figure out my future plans – I now wish to undertake qualification in urban planning. Inspiring Young People changed my preferences from working on a global international scale to now wanting to focus more on local community-led projects. The Consultancy Challenge heightened my awareness of the different factors in the creation of a community – specifically the third sector – and how different social policies affect people.

I would encourage other Geography students to undertake the Award. It provides you with many opportunities to be proactive in instigating changes to the world which we so often learn about ‘behind glass’.

Enrol on the Award for this spring

All three modules are available for enrolment in spring term. Our spring term applications are now open.

Find out more and sign up to modules here.

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