LANCASTER AWARD SUCCESS STORIES
These are the first students to have successfully completed the Lancaster Award. Read what obtaining the Award has meant to them.
MSc Psychological Research Methods
I decided to do the Lancaster Award because it seemed like a great way to explore and evaluate the skills that I have gained over the 4 years I have studied at Lancaster, and to also gain an award that I could put on my C.V. which would be recognised by employers. Some examples of the activities I have undertaken at Lancaster are; AU karate club Captain, student ambassador and tourguide and I created and ran the Karate Society in the year 2009/2010. I am also on the executive of the Ballroom Dancing Society.
I found the paperwork challenging but intruiging to complete; it was an interesting way of really evaluating what I have gained from the activities I have taken part in. The interview was formal yet relaxed and was a good experience. I think that the entire process will better prepare me for really thinking about what interviewers and employers are looking for in an application and this will lead to me applying confidently for a number of jobs in the future, and hopefully being successful!
Final Year English Language
Despite being a third year when the Lancaster Award came into existence I realised I had done the majority of the activities that enabled you to receive the award. Therefore, in order to enhance my CV and add an extra dimension to my degree I decided to complete the other requirements. I had already held down a job for three years as a sales associate at TK Maxx both before and during my degree. However, it was in my second year at university where I did most of my extra curricular activities. I was the Sports Editor for a year on the University newspaper Scan and had several articles published in the Lancaster Guardian. Furthermore, I played pool, darts and football for Cartmel. This year I did some work experience at Lancaster University Press Office and became captain of Cartmel A football team. I would also highly recommend the two day Insight courses that CEEC offer as they are a great way to meet people, have fun, and learn something different to your degree.
Although there are several forms to complete [as part of the Lancaster Award] which are a time consuming process, they do make you realise the skills and qualities you possess. However, I honestly think the interview process of the award was the most worthwhile aspect of the award for me. Preparing myself for an interview will give me more confidence when attending real interviews in the upcoming months.
Finally, I would like to think by doing such an award that I would stand out more than other candidates in job applications and it will give me a further positive topic to talk about when applying for jobs.
2nd Year Law Degree
I have just completed the Lancaster Award and I feel that other students should definitely take part. I decided to do the Award as a good way to look a whether I had all the skills employers were looking for, and if not, to be able to build onto my skills before I left university.
In order to complete the Award I had to complete activities in a number of areas e.g. I have been helping out at the homeless shelter and so was able to put this down as an example of my voluntary work. I am also a member of the Law Society and on the Executive Committee which were examples I could use for other activity/skill areas of the Award.
The form filling was time consuming and I split it up over a number of days, but it helped me think about the skills that employers were looking for and was useful in helping me think of examples for different skills I may be asked about in interviews. After the form filling, I attended the Panel Interview. The questions I was asked related to the skills and activities I had completed as part of the Award, so be prepared to talk about these in more detail.
Overall, I think the Lancaster Award is going to be useful in the future as I now have numerous skills in a lot of different areas, I have completed a number of activities to put on my CV and am able to talk about these skills in an interview. It was also really useful to receive feedback from the panel as it is likely that I will have to attend a panel interview in the future and so will put this feedback to good use.
3rd Year Psychology in Education
I decided to do the Lancaster Award in order to have the other achievements apart from my degree recognised. I feel that the extracurricular activities I participated in were a vital part of my time at university
I was Vice Captain of the Lancashire Roses Cheerleading Squad, I volunteered for LUVU in local primary schools being a ‘reading buddy’ and Special Educational Needs Schools where I was a classroom assistant. I also played darts for my college, worked behind the college bar, had a summer job in a solicitor’s office where I worked in the accounts department and on reception.
Filling in the forms wasn’t too difficult as I had examples from the activities I had participated in. It would have been easier to note down all the examples throughout doing the activities, however, this was not possible as I had done most of them before I filled out the forms. Having CEEC check over the forms before submitting them was also useful as I could correct mistakes and add in more details if necessary.
The interview was more relaxed than I had imagined it was going to be. The questions were mainly related to my forms, however some linked to other areas such as personal development and how I had changed since starting university. It lasted approximately 20 minutes.
I hope that by completing the Award employers will recognise it and so acknowledge the extra things I have done whilst being at university. I am not fully decided on my future career, however, I hope that the social and communication skills that I have developed throughout the process will benefit me when applying for jobs and the interview process will hopefully have prepared me for what to expect from a real job interview.
3rd Year Psychology in Education
I heard about the Lancaster Award when I chose to d the Insight into Enterprise and Employability course. The Award appealed to me initially because I thought it would be a brilliant addition to my graduation certificate and would show prospective employers all that I have achieved whilst at university alongside my academic studies.
I actually took part in two Insight courses the IEE and the Insight into Teaching course. As part of the Award I also undertook other activities related to my personal interests. These included, involvement in some organisations of the Hiking Club as a Social Secretary, Student Ambassadoring and University Tour Guiding.
The forms took me quite a long time to fill in because I wanted to think about them in depth and to write the sections in a way that met the requirements. I also found the form filling gave me a great opportunity to really stand back and notice and appreciate how much I have achieved during my time at university. I saw what it has given me as well as how I have changed as a person from these experiences.
I found the Panel Interview thoroughly enjoyable as it gave me an opportunity to go into further detail on all the topics I had covered in the form filling process, at the same time gauging people’s reaction to what I had put. It gave me a rare opportunity to really present myself, which I feel is an important experience to enhance self esteem and personal confidence. In addition, it was such a positive and relaxed atmosphere and I was really made to feel at ease during the interview.
I feel that, having done the Award, I am well prepared to carry out any future job interviews with confidence. The Award has also helped me learn how to take forward all the extra-curricular experiences into whatever career I choose. It feels brilliant to know that all the non-academic experiences I have had are relevant to and will benefit my future career.
3rd year English and Philosophy
Although university is primarily about academic achievement, I believe that it also has a vital role in improving students’ development outside of the lecture theatre. This is one of the reasons why I chose to undertake the Lancaster Award as it recognises the social and personal development the university experience entails.
There are a wide range of activities which can count towards the Award, such as volunteer worker, sporting achievements, language courses and holding positions of responsibility, such as serving on Executive Committees. Despite the Award forms initially looking daunting, they are in themselves a great way to improve your
self-awareness, as you must carefully consider your abilities before answering each question, ensuring that all aspects of your university experience are covered.
The final stage of gaining the Award involves a mock interview with CEEC staff and employers. This is a nerve-wracking, yet excellent way, to test yourself in a pressurised situation, as you have to make sure that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses and ultimately what you are trying to achieve.
Through gaining the Award I have had to fully evaluate my character, meaning I am now in a much clearer position when it comes to choosing my future career. I understand what motivates me and the things on which I must improve. Overall, the Lancaster Award comprises of many invaluable experiences which culminate in providing you with not only knowledge of your chosen academic subject, but, arguably more importantly, knowledge of yourself.
Final Year Physics (MPhys) Degree
I was very conscious that "just" doing a degree is no longer sufficient for the attainment of high quality employment at the end of my time at university. Given that I had done many of the things required as part of the LA, I thought it would be a an excellent thing to do which would help me record, assess and gain formal recognition for all the exciting things I had done outside of my degree.
I undertook many activities as part of the Award, including the Open Source Project, sports clubs, summer work at Local Authority, outreach work with my department, Student Associates Scheme and acting as a Student Representative.
The form filling process was very straightforward because word documents are provided which you can simply fill in on the computer save, edit, and come back to later. As part of the process, I did a Skills Audit and this was a really useful exercise which will help me choose the right career path based on the skills I have and those which I need to develop.
The LA interview was the last part of the award and gives a nice opportunity to have a practice interview and an opportunity to explain the things you did during the award. It was a calm experience and the interviewers put you at ease.
I feel the LA is has given me the opportunity to gain formal recognition for my extracurricular activities and many other skills which employers are looking for and which are not fully recognised on a degree scheme. As a result, I hope it will make me more attractive as a potential employee.
3rd Year Psychology in Education
I had very little knowledge of the Lancaster Award until I attended an informative lecture. Having read further on the subject, I quickly realised that it would be an ideal way of demonstrating, to potential future employers, that I had achieved much more than just my degree during my time at university.
Since starting university I have been an active member of my college, I was a member of the JCR, involved myself in voluntary work through LUSU, attended various CEEC Insight courses, obtained work experience and generally, became fully involved in a wide range of extra-curricular activities.
The initial part of the application procedure involved completing a fairly comprehensive Skills Audit. After completing this I immediately realised two things:
- When I saw in writing exactly how much I had done I was quite amazed. It made me realise I had developed knowledge in a number of fields I hadn’t realised such as Cultural Sensitivity and Interpersonal Skills.
- It was apparent that if I had not started in my first year it would have been unlikely that I would have had sufficient experience to qualify for the Award.
The second part of the process involved attending a formal interview. This was conducted by three interviewers and took the form of a job interview. They behaved in a professional manner, listened to everything I had to say and didn’t ask any ambiguous questions. I felt at ease throughout the whole process.
When I was told I had passed the Award my emotion was one of sheer joy and a little pride! It was pleasing to know that my efforts had been recognised by others. More importantly, it gave me confidence to know that potential employers would see that my hard work had been recognised by the university in addition to my degree grade. I would highly recommend the Lancaster Award to anyone and everyone.
Final Year Geography Degree
‘Entering third year I started to think about jobs, applications and updating my CV. My Geography degree did not show all the skills I had, or much about my personality, so I thought that the Lancaster Award would be a good way to show them.
The two CEEC courses I did because I wanted to complete the Award, however both were surprisingly interesting and engaging. The Insight into Enterprise and Employability is useful in terms of knowledge and skills gained however it was great fun and a different experience which I would recommend to anyone.
The form filling for the award was quite enlightening. It made me realise I have achieved and learned a lot in my time at university. It is good preparation for job applications, sometimes even possible to copy and paste! It gives you time to reflect and express the skills you have. If nothing else it is a great distraction from essays!
The Lancaster Award interview was very friendly, helpful and received great feedback. It is set up like a graduate job interview (smart clothes and all!) but the interviewers are not there to trip you up. Everyone will have to have an interview at some point in their life and this is a great opportunity to practise in a safe environment. It is better to make mistakes and gain feedback in this situation, rather than in an interview for a desired job. I found the interview useful in making me aware of how I would react in such an environment
Many people are now graduating with good degrees; this should make me stand out from the crowd .It will be something to talk about in interviews and add onto application forms …it has made me think about what career path I want and given me the confidence and realisation that I do have transferable skills gained through my degree, but also in the other activities I undertake in my spare time ’
Final Year English Language Degree
Firstly, I am very proud to be the first recipient of the Lancaster Award. I feel it will be an invaluable asset and excellent addition to my degree, that I hope will give me an edge on the competition.
More and more employers are looking for people with “soft” skills such as communication and interpersonal skills. The Lancaster Award is one way of demonstrating this, as well as things such as entrepreneurship and networking. Such skills will be important in virtually all walks of life one enters and therefore I feel the award is a worthy asset, no matter what discipline you are from. Additionally, the award displays what one has learned from work experience and on-campus activities, prerequisites for it. In my time at University I have had various work experience, including work experience at a solicitor’s firm and working at a camp in America; on campus, I am the President of the Linguistics and English Language society and the Bowland B-Team pool captain. I am converting into Law next year, and aspiring to enter the legal profession, I hope such experiences will hold me in good stead.
Another reason I wanted to complete the award was because of the interview process. It is a beneficial experience, as it is good preparation for graduate interviews. The questions were varied and the feedback constructive. However, I feel the most valuable aspect of the Lancaster Award are the activities you have to go through just to be eligible for it- the “getting yourself involved” bit. It is these experiences that help you become a more developed, well-rounded individual.
Final Year English Literature Degree
‘I took the Lancaster Award to get more practice at the interview process and to help organise my CV. I have found CEEC to be helpful and have enjoyed the CEEC workshops I attended. Being a third year I had most of the prerequisites before hearing about the Award . This included a summer job at Alton Towers, attending the Insight into Media two day event, singing in a church choir and being on the exec for the Lancaster University Young Entrepreneurs Society.
Although filling in the forms took a while, breaking it down into 3 separate forms made it seem less intimidating. One long form might have had me rushing for the escape button, but I’m glad I didn’t. It helped me focus on linking activities to skills or knowledge areas .It’s easy to come out of an interview and think, I wish I had said so and so.. so to spend some time thinking about answers to hypothetical questions is useful.
It seems odd to say I enjoyed the interview, but I did. I was impressed that the interviewers asked personalised questions rather than asking everyone the same question. They all seemed to care about the process and took in seriously.
It was really useful getting the interview sheets with the comments on. I’ll try and follow the advice and talk a little louder in future. Overall the comments were very kind which helped boost my confidence.’
Interviewees and the interview panel: (Paul Blackmore (Director of CEEC), Joanne Allday (Showing Off Ltd) and Norman Rea (Employer Services Co-ordinator CEEC) being congratulated by Amanda Chetwynd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (College and Student Experience).