May 24, 2022, by Matthew Lumley

Discovering my potential through the Advantage Award

By Dylan Cox, BSc Psychology, third year

I definitely enjoyed my experience as a Psychology student at the University of Nottingham. During my second year, though, I started to notice that something was missing. I recognised that there was a big difference between who I was and who I wanted to be – and my degree alone was not going to change that. 

I had considered joining the Advantage Award before, and now it seemed like the perfect way to improve my situation. The only way to find out was to take action. I enrolled myself on the Award, with the main objective of broadening my horizons. 

Thankfully, that is exactly what it did. I developed my ability to communicate with others in different situations, and discovered new directions in which I could take my career. Most importantly, I built a stronger character that I feel proud to carry with me into the future. 

Develop interpersonal skills for your career and beyond 

One of the most valuable transferrable skills you can acquire is the ability to communicate well with a variety of people, in a variety of settings. Whether you want to be an effective teammate, deliver an impactful presentation, or leave a lasting impression at interview, good communication is vital. 

One of my Award modules – Career skills for Psychology students – was especially useful for practicing my interpersonal skills. Over four weeks, I worked with a team to plan, create and deliver a presentation. Like many others, public speaking used to make me nervous. Therefore, I saw the module as a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. 

The effort paid off when I was commended as a particularly strong speaker – feedback I did not expect to receive.  

If you are thinking of participating in the Award, do not hesitate to choose at least one module that seems scary. You might be surprised to find that you are capable of more than you think. 

Discover careers that you never considered before 

Deciding where to take your career can be difficult. However, sometimes it is made easier by learning about occupations beyond those directly related to your degree. Try to keep an open mind, otherwise you risk limiting yourself. 

Choosing ‘Skills for Employability’ had a major influence on my career plans. I attended six insightful events organised by the Careers and Employability Service. These gave me up-to-date advice on how to stand out to employers, leaving me with greater commercial awareness. 

Moreover, I produced a reflective piece on each event, which helped identify my strengths. That is how I discovered my affinity with digital marketing – the field in which I now have a job that I enjoy. 

If I had not taken this module, I might have progressed through my entire degree without properly considering my prospects, my CV, or my interview technique. Now, I am able to set myself clearer professional goals, and I feel fulfilled pursuing them. 

Take responsibility for your personal development 

A few years after university, you might have forgotten a lot of the content that you learned in your lectures. However, any improvements made to your character will, hopefully, stay with you for life. A proactive attitude towards personal development will make you more adaptable, more creative, and increasingly more employable. 

The ‘Nottingham Consultancy Challenge’ was the most rewarding of my Award modules because I volunteered to be team leader. My team conducted extensive competitor analyses and a marketing strategy overhaul for a real company—so the stakes were high. However, at the time, none of us had any experience with either. 

Rising to the challenge was a chance for me to grow as a person and we ‘far outweighed’ the company director’s expectations. It was definitely worthwhile. I emerged with a range of new skills and as a far more confident and effective leader. 

It is never too late to start working on yourself. I began the Award during the latter half of my second year and I have no regrets. It sounds cliché, but if you are a prospective Award student, find the courage to test your boundaries during all your modules. Otherwise, you may never reach your potential. 

Immerse yourself in the Award and reap the benefits 

These are just some of the ways that the Advantage Award can help you secure a brighter future. It is a great way to make the most of your time as a student, whilst preparing for life after graduation. 

If, like me, you have been considering the Award for some time, then hopefully this article will be your final push to do it. Choose the right modules for you, give them your all, and the Award could mark a memorable turning point in your life. 

Start your Award journey

You can:

Applications open on the following dates:

  • 31 August – Autumn
  • 1 November – Spring
  • 1 May – Summer

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