Tuesday, 22 August 2017

GUEST STUDENT BLOG: The impact of developing enterprise capabilities within my degree course

Guest Author: Pauline Narvas

Image of headshot of Pauline Narvas, the author, smiling[This is a guest blog written for us by Pauline Narvas. We asked her to tell us about the impact that experiencing enterprise in the curriculum has had on her personally.]

Bio: Hi, I’m Pauline! I have a lot of hats but in summary, I am: a Biomedical Sciences student, an old-school blogger, a front-end developer, a former communications intern, a women in STEM advocate, HackMed hackathon organiser and a coding instructor at Code First: Girls.

My experience

The Organ Donation Project was a project that made up a small part of my ‘Introduction to Human Anatomy’ module in my second year of my Biomedical Sciences degree. I was put into a group with others in my course, where I then took the role of team leader for the project. My role was to delegate tasks to other team members and think of creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas to engage young students to sign up for the organ donation register, using our anatomical knowledge.

As team leader, I wanted to stand out of my peers and using my knowledge in website development, I suggested that we create a responsive website that told a story to convince the more tech-savy audience to sign up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Organ Donation Project because it was a different, more creative project in contrast to other projects and assignments we had to do in the course. Most of BMS’ assessments included work that had to be submitted individually. I thoroughly enjoy team work because it helps build on skills and think of ideas that I cannot develop alone so the ODP gave a great platform for this!

During the ODP I developed my business acumen and entrepreneurial skills. At the end of the project, I understood:
  • How to pitch my idea in a short time to a panel
  • Write a funding proposal
  • Formalise a plan and critically analyse it to ensure that any problems that arose could be dealt with
  • Bring my ideas to life! 

Other skills I developed from the ODP include:
  • Leadership skills from leading the project
  • Marketing and Advertising 
  • Pitching to a panel
  • Campaign planning
  • Ability to work in a team 
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution

The impact

The blog's author, Pauline, with AJ from Diva creative, working together in front of a computer screen Developing the whole website from scratch, I impressed AJ (Digital Services Manager at Diva Creative at the time) with my skills and he gave me his business card. Diva Creative, a local marketing agency specialising in health campaigning, was an external partner for the Organ Donation Project, and AJ helped out by holding some workshops for all the students on creative campaigns. I followed up with him after and ended up working with him over Easter! If I hadn’t have done the ODP, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore the creative and tech industry.

I also wouldn’t have known about the amazing initiatives they do at the University of Sheffield Enterprise if the ODP didn’t take place - after the ODP I actually joined in the weekly Skill Build sessions which further enhanced my general knowledge on entrepreneurs.

I wrote about the whole experience on my personal blog, ‘a blog by Pauline’, if you’re interested, you can read all about it here. You can also find USE Academy's case study on the Organ Donation Project here.

The ODP had impact even beyond my placement with Diva. During my second year, I was looking to take a year out for further professional experience. Throughout the year, especially the spring semester, I was invited to a number of interviews where I used both the ODP and Diva Creative experience as examples of work. My work experience with Diva Creative was especially impactful; it enabled me to secure my placement year at the University of Sheffield as the experience - including the process of gaining it from the ODP was impressive! This already demonstrates that both have had a huge impact.

Code First: Girls. A group of around 30 young women smiling

The ODP and Diva placement also gave me the confidence to now run and lead coding community courses for female students - which I wouldn’t have put myself forward for without the push from leading a project and gaining a placement in a male-dominated field. Because of my experience with Diva, as a result of the ODP, as well as the Code First Girls courses I run have motivated me to seek out alternative careers to my degree - in particular in the tech and creative industries. I’ll definitely be mentioning them in future job interviews and assessments!

I have just completed my 12 months placement at the University, working in a Communications and External Engagement role. I had sought out a more ‘alternative’ placement experience which mirrors the ODP with it being a lot ‘different’ to typical BMS projects! I don’t think I would have looked for this alternative placement if it wasn’t for the push from the ODP which made me realise that there is more to a BMS student than labs, reports and dissections. Underneath all the analytical and problem solving skills obtained on the surface of my degree is also creativity, adaptability, marketing and entrepreneurial skills (that I had no idea even existed!) which can be unleashed by collaborative, multi-disciplinary work such as the ODP.

My plans right now are to complete my final year and graduate with Biomedical Sciences with Employment Experience along with a strong CV which showcases not only the typical Sheffield University life sciences graduate but also my commitment to pushing the boundaries and showcasing my creativity and technical skills in modern technology.

The final word

My message to academics and teachers is to encourage flexibility and adaptability. Keep innovating in the curriculum with valuable projects where students can really gain value for their future career. It’s not always about what they can remember from your slides in Autumn semester and how they talk about it in a report - how can you go beyond this? Take the ODP as an example! I personally retained more information about the liver than I would’ve ever done just absorbing it from lectures. Why? Because it was engaging and was a lot more than just “here’s the knowledge” - it was “here’s the knowledge, apply it to a real problem and you are not limited to what you do so get creative."

No comments:

Post a Comment