More about Gemma
Youth Studies Alumni Gemma, works as a Work and Opportunities Officer within higher education. Gemma spoke to us about her time at NTU and her career journey to get to where she is today. We also spoke to Gemma about her passion for supporting underrepresented students who face inequalities in education.
Tell us why you chose to study at NTU and what are your memories of your time here?
Studying at Nottingham Trent University enabled me to be close to my daughter who was in full time education and the university location made it easier for travel purposes.
Having lecturers that came from practice allowed me to understand theory better as it was often linked back to practice. I still smile when I think back to being in lectures and how much I enjoyed learning, not just from the lecturers, but my peers too. Since graduating I have learnt that my degree was a journey and it was ok to spend the whole 3 years learning and developing myself as an individual.
What did you do that enhanced your employment prospects?
I spent a lot of time reflecting on my values and ethics which enabled me to be clear about what area I wanted to work in. This enabled me to focus on applying for roles/institutions that aligned with my values and enabled me to speak in interviews more passionately. I did a placement for a very short time, which ended due to Covid-19. Being taught by lecturers that came from practice further solidified areas of work that I wanted to go into.
What does your current working day involve?
My job title is Work and Opportunities Officer - Diversity & Inclusion, at Loughborough University. The role is to project manage specific programmes delivered within the Careers Network, Student Success Academy at Loughborough university. These programmes aim to support black African, Afro-Caribbean and south Asian students to celebrate and advance their talent for career success. Running events that focuses of building students networks, offering empowering spaces, working with employers that have a focus on diversifying their workforce, delivering sessions that focuses on elevating students opportunities to be successful during application process and deliver careers advice.
What attracted you to this field of work?
The role mirrors my dissertation subject. I have a passion for supporting underrepresented students who face inequalities in education. The Future Talent programme has been designed to support underrepresented black and Asian students here at Loughborough University.
What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?
The biggest highlights come when students let me know that they have been successful securing a job or placement through the support that I offered. It’s amazing!
I didn’t get this current role initially which I was extremely disappointed about as I felt it was perfect for me and knew I would do an amazing job. A few weeks later I received an email from one of the panel members who interviewed me (my manager) and was asked if I would be willing to come in for an informal chat to discuss the opportunity further. Whilst I was extremely nervous, my passion and commitment for the role wasn’t going to deter me. I have now been in my role 7 months and it is great! There is still a lot of learning to do and at times I have found it overwhelming preparing for the start of a new semester but my commitment to the role, my colleagues and students will always outweigh those feelings. The importance of having a job that aligns with my values and ethics makes it easier to navigate during the challenging times.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to continue learning about my role, take on new projects, build my network with colleagues across the campus and provide a high quality service to students.
If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at Uni?
Everything is a journey, I don’t have to know everything now, I will progress at my own rate, stay committed to learning and developing and everything will come in its own time.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our alumni community?
Surround yourself with people who want to see you excel, it only needs to be 1 person, and take the time to learn. You will reap the benefits of your hard work.
Connect with Gemma on Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gemma-francis-b76232246
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