June 29, 2020, by Jackie Thompson
With no work experience, the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge was perfect for me
By Devashree Vaidya, work and organisational psychology student
As an international student with no prior work experience, I started applying for jobs and realised the importance of work experience to strengthen my job applications. I was impressed with the multiple avenues that the University offers to enhance students’ CV and employability.
Building my CV and giving back
During an appointment with the Careers team, I came across one such opportunity called the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge (NCC). As I read up more about the NCC, I realised it was the perfect way to get started to build my CV and give back to the community that welcomed international students graciously. My biggest takeaway from the Challenge was the opportunity of working with a real client and getting insights into the world of business.
Getting the brief
We had a formal introductory session on how the Challenge works, what was expected from us, giving us the project brief and some team building exercises. Initially, our project for an engineering consultancy based in Nottingham included:
- improving accountability in the workplace, and
- bridging a communication gap between the technical and the administrative team
We met the director and office manager in the University and also got the opportunity to meet and interact with the employees at the client’s workplace. This interaction unearthed other issues which we included in the scope of our project.
I would also like to acknowledge the efforts put in by the Careers team in supporting us in every step of the Challenge from arranging meeting rooms to supporting us with queries during COVID-19.
They arranged a workshop on presentation skills which helped to build our confidence when presenting to the client.
Sharing the responsibilities
Our work included researching possible solutions to counteract the issues and presenting them in the form of a PowerPoint presentation (PPT). We delegated the workload between members of the team and collaborated on producing a report and PPT.
I was responsible for suggesting methods to introduce a ‘feedback culture’ in the organisation and collating information from my colleagues into the PPT.
Developing key skills and collaborating
Apart from working on a real-life project, the Challenge helped me develop key skills, such as project management, teamwork and delivering effective presentations. These skills are crucial in any field and career path. It also allowed me to develop professional behaviours as we were interacting with clients and representing the University of Nottingham.
Another great aspect of the Challenge was working with a team with diverse backgrounds. My team included home students as well as international students from China and Singapore. They were studying a wide range of disciplines: business, economics, English, philosophy and psychology.
Recommending the Challenge to you
I would recommend this Challenge to students who are looking for work experience. It’s a short-term project packed with many opportunities. You will get to network with individuals from diverse backgrounds, learn to be flexible to changing demands and develop key skills, something that is necessary for everyone’s personal and professional development.
Applications are now open for the Virtual Nottingham Consultancy Challenge: a new, evolved version of the Challenge for these extraordinary times. The closing date for applications is Sunday 5 July.
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