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October 16, 2023, by Jackie Thompson

How the Careers and Development Fund Helped Me Attend My First Conference

By Gillian Walters, Applied English MA student.

I applied for the Learning and Development Opportunities Fund after a tutor on the Distance Learning Applied English MA posted about it on Teams.

Why did you apply for the fund? 

Since my PhD will be in Victorian Studies, I desperately wanted to attend The British Association for Victorian Studies Conference 2023 being held at the University of Surrey, but I knew I could not afford to go. After discovering about the Learning and Development Opportunities Fund I completed the application form and was thrilled to be accepted: I was offered £250. The funding was enough to cover the cost of the conference registration and allowed me to attend the entire event – enabling me to apply to present a paper during the conference — something which would not have been possible if I had only been attending for one day.

I was keen to present in front of an audience after developing my skills in that area as part of the Nottingham Advantage Award module: ‘Skills for Employability’. Earlier this year, I finally built up the confidence to attend the University of Nottingham English Showcase event, something I had been too shy to attempt previously. I presented my paper in front of students and faculty members and, to my surprise, I enjoyed it! So, when I saw about the conference, I felt that speaking to an audience of Victorianists, outside of UoN, about a topic I feel genuinely passionate about seemed a natural next step in my personal development.

What was your experience at the conference like and how will it help you in your future career?

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the University of Surrey, it was something so different from any of my other experiences during my MA. The different topics covered were fascinating and it was brilliant to be amongst other Victorian specialists. I enjoyed discovering insights into the G.L.A.M sector (Galleries. Libraries. Archives. Museums) during the Professionalisation Afternoon, which was aimed at postgraduate and early careers researchers. There were fascinating presentations throughout the conference, with topics ranging from findings still being made in Victorian cemeteries in London to Lancashire dialect poetry relating to the cotton famine during the Victorian era. Presenting away from the University of Nottingham was quite daunting but I am glad I was able to share my passion for Victorian periodical poetry with others.

The conference was also a brilliant opportunity to network with other Victorian specialists from across the globe, and to discuss my ideas with others who are also passionate about the era. I have even been invited to join an ongoing online archival material project at Gladstone’s Library in Wales.

Do you have any advice you’d like to offer students as a result of receiving funding for a personal development opportunity?

If you have an opportunity in mind but need some financial support, then apply – don’t miss out.

Continue your professional development throughout your studies and in your future career with the Careers and Employability Service.

Posted in Postgraduate Taught Students