Gaining New Skills and Work Experience While Studying

Date 12 December 2022

Janine writes about the wide variety of work experiences she’s gained and the importance of keeping on top of University emails to make the most of any new opportunities.

Janine Leão
How it started

In 2019 I decided to put in practice my long-term idea of moving to the UK to take a degree and started my UCAS application. In 2020 I left Lisbon, moved to Northampton and started a new adventure. Sadly, I came during difficult times, as the pandemic got worse, but after a not so good first year, I decided that my second and third year would be worth it. As I always had in mind that I didn’t want to spend my undergraduate years doing the typical ‘home-school, school-home’ routine, I was determined to gain as much experience and skills as possible during the last two remaining years and finish my degree in order to build a strong CV!

My second year and the University emails

I’m glad to say that my second year was a great year, both in terms of grades and work experience.

First, it’s important to note that Northampton, although a small town, is full of job opportunities – you have a good number of catering and hospitality agencies, for example. This made me gain experience as bar staff, mainly, and also allowed me to participate in events such as Formula 1 and so much more. I met a lot of great people, learned how to work under pressure and at a fast pace, how to work as part of a team and how to deal with a lot of different personalities. I also gained a lot of organisational skills.

Second, check University emails! There’s always so much going on, especially on the first weeks of a new academic year and we get overwhelmed with so many activities taking place almost every day. But one thing that will help you manage your preferences, is the university emails. If you’re having a conversation with a friend and you think “Well, I had no idea about Unitemps”, for example, check your emails. I’m currently a Welcome Team Member, a Student Ambassador, a Brand Ambassador (hence why you are reading this right now), a Quality Unit External Member and a Course Rep. All of these jobs that I currently have with the University of Northampton, I secured by paying attention to my emails.

Besides enjoying all these roles, these are positions that helped me a lot in terms of skills and of course, work experience. As a shy person, they all helped me (and still are helping) to deal with my social anxiety, to engage with people from all ages, to gain new friends and to make great connections. They also made me gain and strengthen many skills like communication, stress management/problem-solving, teamwork, persuasion and adaptability. These are only a few – I gained so much more! And, it’s important to note that these roles are flexible – I’m able to choose when to work or not, which helped me with my time management skills.

Besides these opportunities, I did my placement abroad with a volunteering organisation. Currently, I’m also part of a volunteering programme and a member of the Global Diplomatic Forum (GDF). Again, all by regularly checking my emails!

The importance of a strong CV

The big message that I want to transmit by providing this information, is that a degree is more than going to classes and completing assignments. It’s also about engaging with the University. It’s taking advantage of the opportunities around us, while we’re preparing for the professional world. It’s trying to apply our everyday learning in our daily activities. I encourage every student to take advantage of all the academic services that the University of Northampton provides – these services, and the great opportunities and outcomes that come with it, will make your CV stand out amongst other candidates. It will make you finish university more secure of yourself. A first-class diploma is great, but a first-class diploma with an amazing CV, full of experience and skills, is even greater.

Janine Leão
Janine Leão

Janine is a final year student of BA Politics & International Relations. She loves a new challenge and describes making the decision to study abroad as a crucial part of who she is today.