July 26, 2021, by Matthew Lumley

Going above and beyond with my Advantage Award experience

By Calum Heslop, BMBS Medicine, fourth year

The Nottingham Advantage Award is an excellent way to develop new and existing skills. You can increase your employability, make the most of your university experience and prepare for life beyond university. It is also a fantastic way to enhance your CV by gaining formal recognition for extracurricular activities. I cannot recommend the Award enough and would like to share my experiences to encourage you to get involved as well.

Three very different modules

During my medicine studies, I became a First Responder supporting the East Midlands Ambulance Service. To supplement my role, I completed a volunteering module to enhance my practical experience. I also completed the Students as Change Agents – SACA – and Nottingham Consultancy Challenge modules, which took me out of my comfort zone.

Being a peer mentor emphasised the importance of creating a supportive atmosphere for students. I wanted to continue the high standard of mentoring and have it formally recognised within the School of Medicine. Therefore, my SACA project focused on high quality training for peer mentors. This was achieved by developing a clear training pathway with detailed training resources. In addition, I wanted mentors to learn from their experiences. Therefore, I incorporated self-reflection and peer assessments into the scheme. Consequently, mentors continue to provide invaluable support and this School of Medicine peer mentoring programme is now an accredited Award module.

My Nottingham Consultancy Challenge project involved extensive market research and data collection. I helped develop Artificial Intelligence – AI – software and grant applications for a local AI and robotics technology firm. My role was project lead, providing direction and support to my team. We successfully completed the project on time and to the highest standard. As a result, the organisation gained valuable insights to develop their AI software and apply for funding to support their goals.

Enhancing my skills

The voluntary work module enabled me to reflect on the skills I was learning and using. It helped me identify my strengths and how to develop and improve my weaknesses.

During the SACA module, I further developed my innovative thinking and navigated independently through complex challenges.

The Nottingham Consultancy Challenge enhanced my remote working skills and adaptability. I received valuable, constructive and positive feedback from a local employer.

The Nottingham Advantage Award allowed me to gain a unique insight into what makes individuals and professional groups successful. In particular, the importance of reflection combined with the creation of SMART* objectives. This is already supporting my personal and professional development. I use the skills developed during the Award throughout my positions on several leadership teams to help achieve our short, medium and long-term goals.

*SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely

Looking ahead

Although I have already decided to pursue a career as a doctor, the Award has supported me in developing a wide range of new valuable skills. It has given me invaluable insights into other career experiences and opportunities. This has encouraged me to broaden my future goals and take on wider responsibilities in addition to working towards becoming a doctor.

Start your Advantage Award journey

Take a look at our module catalogue and apply to join your next Award module.

Applications open on the following dates each year:

  • 31 August – autumn and full year modules
  • 1 November – spring modules
  • 1 May – summer modules

Contact and Follow us

You can keep up-to-date on the Nottingham Advantage Award via social media, so please like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

Want to speak to one of the Award team then please contact us at nottingham-advantage-award@nottingham.ac.uk

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