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I took full advantage of the Employability Team and even since I left it has been so handy to know there is still access to them

More about Ellen

Childhood Studies Alumni Ellen, reflects on her time at NTU from the lectures, placements to graduation. Ellen explains how her career has grown since graduating and how her NTU experience helped reach her goals.

Why did you choose to study at NTU?

As soon as I stepped onto Clifton campus on an open day with my dad, I fell in love with it! It was a great campus; the accommodation was so convenient - that convenient I stayed all three years in it! I felt like I was at home there, and it was close enough to my family (they only live in Lincolnshire!), but also far enough away that I could finally have some independence. I had always heard good comments about NTU and Nottingham as a whole, so this certainly influenced my decision, but also just how welcoming everyone was.

Tell us about your memories of NTU and what did you learn?

Inside of lectures, I was able to pursue and learn much more about childhood as a whole. I had done a childcare qualification at college before university, so it helped me to further my knowledge and experiences. All the tutors have extensive knowledge which shows through with their enthusiasm and support throughout the whole course!

I learnt how to live independently, away from the parents which I know is a massive thing for a lot of people! My brother had already been at university a few years before I had and had given me odd bits of advice but to experience it myself was what I needed to learn and better myself. I learnt more about myself and thrived within the student lifestyle.

Just looking through old pictures, thinking of the memories makes me smile. I have finally, very recently, managed to put up my certificate and graduation picture, and now I can always look and smile when I see it, with the knowledge of the hard work and achievement, with the notion of ‘I did it’. I’m still in touch with a few friends from my university days, so always manage to reminisce and laugh when catching up.

What did you do that enhanced your employment prospects?

I was lucky enough that on my course, we had two opportunities for placements. One placement I did was within a local primary school and the other was the most amazing experience that was experiencing a residential week long break for disadvantaged children. I have actually been able to volunteer since with the residential break placement as I loved it so much, and it was so worth it especially as their closest is in Derbyshire now.

I was also able to volunteer as a course rep during my time at university, this was able to influence my course and provide feedback to my tutors but I was also attend academic rep assemblies with the Vice President of Education, as well as student forums and the first Academic Representatives Conference at NTU.

Whilst at NTU, I also got some paid employment through being a student ambassador. This was great fun as it wasn’t too much commitment but on open days, I was able to take prospective students and parents around campus, answering any questions and telling them about NTU as a whole. I know I’d been in their shoes, so I knew exactly what it felt like to be choosing a suitable university!

I had lots of support from the NTU employability team, especially in our final year when we were trying to work out our next steps. We were lucky to have a specific advisor for our school, and I took full advantage of it and even since I left it has been so handy to know there is still access to it a few years after graduation. If you can take full advantage of the team, they are all amazing!

What does your current working day involve?

I currently work with a specific year group, this being year 11’s, in my role as Dean of Students. Day to day, I support them in lessons, if they need support with their wellbeing or their mental health. I can speak to them but also help facilitate if they need any extra support. It is hard work to keep up with 160 students in my year currently but it is so worth it!

What attracted you to this field of work?

I had been working in a Nursery/Manager of an out of school club since graduating from NTU, I had been there 5 years and was looking for something that was completely out of my comfort zone. I wanted to stay working with children, but wasn’t sure exactly what. This job role stood out to me with the aspect of supporting the students and their wellbeing, it was like nothing I had done before but I was ready for a new challenge.

What have been some highlights and challenges that you have you faced?

Starting a new job will always have it challenges but if you are willing to work for it then you can go far. My new employers knew I didn’t have experience in a secondary school but saw something in me that has meant I can be successful in this new role. Sometimes it is about applying for something, and showing how amazing you are at interview that may still mean you get the job. The main challenges, which I’m sure everyone has felt at some point in a new job is fitting in. I had major imposter syndrome in the whole of the first term of this job, but thankfully it has subsided now, and I am making some great new friends.

My highlights have been receiving really lovely feedback from my new employers within my first few weeks. Within the first month, one of my senior leaders made a comment that I am a ‘head of year in the making’, this helped me to reaffirm I had made the right choice, in stepping out of my comfort zone.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I am really enjoying my new role. I think my aim eventually is to be a head of year, but I know I can work up to it and I have got time to do that. Now I have my ‘foot in the door’ in a secondary school, I think it may open up a lot more opportunities for me. I always contemplate it but maybe one day, I may do a post grad course at NTU too!

If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at Uni?

Get more involved in societies and stuff outside of my course, don’t just focus on the work all the time, it can be hard to not get swallowed up in it all which I know I did. Make sure you still have time to make those memories, time away from work etc, you’re graduating in no time!

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our alumni community?

Work hard but make the most of the opportunities, make those memories and be successful, it goes quicker than you think and then you’re in the big wide world!

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