I began my vocational career in 2007 where I completed ten years of work at a local accountancy firm before taking the brave decision to attend the University of Derby full time to attempt to improve my employability after obtaining a HND at the same institution in 2011 and felt that education was an opportunity for shifting the metaphorical glass ceiling above my head. I made the conscious decision to initially study occupational therapy, however, after a personal decision, I transferred course to obtain a degree in writing and publishing completing this in the summer of 2021.
After graduating from the University of Derby, I successfully applied for the Derby Talent Programme Network co-ordinator role within the institution’s Careers and Employment Service. During this fixed-term internship running between September 2021 and early April 2022, I was fundamental to developing strategies and considerations when applying equality, diversity and inclusivity to the operations of the service. This included supporting my colleagues as well as other stakeholders including students and graduates.
One of my main duties in this role was to encourage recent graduates to get in touch with the Careers and Employment Service or use the wealth of invaluable resources that were available to them in order to be in a stronger position in finding their first professional role after graduating.
This was done by setting up a form and engaging email which was inclusive and provided my colleagues with a picture of those who were needing additional support or guidance from the service. After a generic email was sent out and only grabbing the attention of a small number of graduates, I took up the responsibility of creating personalised ones via a mail merge method and awareness of their active status in using the website, which upped the numbers of responses and completed forms from less than 10 to over 150 in the space of a few weeks.
Throughout my vocational career, I have been a strong advocate for mental health issues and proud to positively represent and ally LGBTQ+ individuals and I am also candid about my own neurodiversity diagnosis of both Autism and Dyspraxia which was done during my studies.
While I was working in the Careers and Employment Service, I developed a confidence to utilise my presence on the social networking platform LinkedIn to document my confidences within the role and how I was using my skills and understanding to educate others as well as help market the Service’s events and opportunities on a regular basis.
Towards the conclusion of my contract, I supported a project to pilot further additional wellbeing and employability support to those recent completed their studies and this was undertaken by the head of the service, following providing insight into different options, a subjective opinion of a recent graduate who had used wellbeing support during their academic journey and what having resources such as the ones presented would contribute towards.
All of this was noticed on multiple occasions by staff at differing levels and led me to winning the inaugural Intern of the Month accolade in November 2021 following nominations from my colleagues across the Service and eventually being nominated for the Generation Next Diversity and Inclusion Award by the employer and community engagement manager.
Following the completion of my time within the Careers and Employment Service, I moved to a neighbouring department within the university, initially contracted until December 2022 but obtaining an extension until April 2023.
I would like to think I am empathetic and aspiring individual who is focused on delivering both as an individual and as a strong team player by using the talents and skills I possess as well as an enthusiasm to continue to develop new competencies.
During my career I have also been keen to demonstrate my reliability to get on with my own work and contribute to projects and achieve better for myself and the team I am working for.
I have the ambition and motivation to ensure that the work I contribute towards makes a positive difference to all who are involved in the process and will continue to attempt to obtain more effective and efficient processes are made.
Throughout my working career, I have sustained to strive for success and develop further understanding if I felt I was not comfortable and be prepared to take accountability for any spontaneous duties or responsibilities by actively listening and participating rather than procrastinating, dallying or deliberating.
Additionally, I believe I have been able to establish a strong determination to value all people across the service I personally provide when called upon either triaging student footfall or colleagues and assisted in making the workplace a community of positive minded individuals contributing to set goals.
To me, award winners are relevant to the needs of others, people-focused, encouraging, pioneering, insightful and altruistic about the award they are considering applying for.
When applying for an award, I feel it is important to show that your story is an honest reflection of who you want people to see you as, and that others can find a human element to what you have achieved.
No-one is perfect but a willingness to demonstrate progression is essential and overcoming either personal or professional barriers to succeed will stand you in good stead – in my case public speaking was one of those.
If hoping to win an award, individuals should also think about challenging the previous methods or attitudes while being assertive within respect of others alongside considering how they feel it should be done to improve what has gone before.
If at all possible demonstrate how those changes could have a positive effect if implemented as this will help showcase your motivation for progress and that you have the ambition to be a change-maker if results are stalling or you are wanting to improve your stakeholders’ impression of you and your business.
Throughout your journey it is also crucial to demonstrate empathy, humility and a willingness to go that extra mile. No award winner has ever done things because they are easy, they have shown commitment to the cause and done so with a smile on their face even when it feels challenging. This personality encourages people to see that the journey has contributed to others and that it is an almost selfless cause.
Being awarded with the Diversity and Inclusion award in July 2022 was a very special moment in my career as it provided me with confidence to take forward ideas and be more assertive about what I hope to demonstrate to others when I continue to make progress in my career, and also encourage individuals to think a bit differently about how to approach others due to seeing how I dealt with a particular issue.
As a very modest individual, I was honoured to be considered for this accolade, but I believe that this will help ensure that I am considered as a role model going forward for overcoming the hurdles that were in my way and someone who delivers actions along with words.
I keep my award on my work-from-home desk and am proud to keep contributing to EDI practices in my current role by attending and contributing to a working group looking at developing and implementing support and recognition mechanisms for staff across the university’s innovation and research team. In addition, the EDI working group is also looking to achieve aims set out in increasing diversity across the whole university’s workforce and activities.
So, it feels very exciting to be part of something which could implement positive impact and change within an organisation with the clout and attraction of the University of Derby with determination to make it a place which focuses on the core values of being bold, brilliant, future-focused and valuing people at heart of everything it sets out to do.
The Generation Next Awards have relaunched for 2023. If you have a colleague who deserves some recognition, or experienced many successes over the past year, complete an application form before 6 March.