Beth Garrett

Education MA

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Course studied: Education MA
Year of graduation: 2021
Current job title: President of the Students’ Union
Current employer: University of Northampton Students’ Union
Industry sector: Higher Education/Charity

Your university/career journey

Why did you choose your course at UON?

I studied at the University of Northampton for my undergraduate degree, based on recommendations from friends and colleagues that I knew who had previously done their teacher training here too. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here during my BA, so staying on to do my MA was a no-brainer for me – plus there was the benefit of the alumni discount!

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most and why?

I enjoyed the ability to choose the topics I was most interested in, which is something that I hadn’t been able to do as much in my undergraduate degree due to professional body requirements. During my MA, I was able to focus assignments on teacher training and explore the systems in other countries, which I found fascinating. It was also really interesting to hear from a range of guest lecturers with varying experience and expertise.

How do you think your studies have helped your career or personal development?

The knowledge and skills I gained during my MA have been incredibly helpful in my career, which has focused on Higher Education and, in particular, involved a lot of focus on teaching and pedagogy in Higher Education. Personally, I learned a lot of transferable skills and have become more confident in myself.

Describe your career progression so far, and any plans you have for the future. Are there any particular hurdles you may face?

Since graduating from my MA, I’ve worked in the Students’ Union as a Sabbatical Officer for two years, which has given me the opportunity to work closely with colleagues across the University and influence decision-making in the Students’ Union and wider University. My future plans involve staying in Higher Education and hopefully continuing to work with an area like learning and teaching enhancement.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree are most useful in your current role?

Teaching, presenting, governance.

Extra-curricular activities

Did you do any extra-curricular activities while at UON?

Yes, I participated in four sports clubs in my first year, continuing to become a committee member for two clubs (Treasurer for Trampolining, and Secretary for Squash). I also became a Course Rep, Faculty Rep and Deputy Chair of Student Council (now All Student Meetings), so was very involved in the Students’ Union. Aside from this, I also became a student researcher on an Erasmus+ funded research project which I continued with during my MA.

How did these extra-curricular activities enhance your career prospects?

I learnt a lot about Higher Education and governance through my role on Student Council, which has been very useful in my current role and the leadership skills I developed as a committee member have also made a positive contribution to my career prospects. The main benefit from my extra-curricular activities has been my engagement in research, which has supported my application for PhDs, as well as my professional profile when applying for jobs in Higher Education.

Are you currently involved in any community or volunteering projects?

Not so much at the moment, although I’m still doing some voluntary research work with some of the research projects I engaged in as a student.

Your advice

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path or anything you wish you had known earlier?

Definitely get involved in the Students’ Union’s sports and societies. Also, find out more about things like Changemaker and go and have a chat with the front-line library staff – they’re great and they know everything!

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?

My UON experience has transformed my life for the better!