21 November 2017

Business leaders and academics gave an insight into job success, satisfaction and employability at West Nottinghamshire College’s University Centre last week.

More than 100 higher education (HE) students took advantage of the experts’ advice on health and wellbeing in the workplace, making the most of effective research, influencing through emotional intelligence and how breaking out of your comfort zone can reap rewards.

Guest speakers shared their knowledge at the college’s annual HE student conference, billed as an ‘employability skills development event’, on Wednesday (15 November) in the University Centre at the Derby Road campus in Mansfield.

Speakers included Dr Robert Baker, senior lecturer and collaborative course leader at Sheffield Business School (part of Sheffield Hallam University). He delivered the ‘One Degree, Many Paths’ seminar. Dr Baker, who was previously a lecturer at West Nottinghamshire College, shared his expertise on thinking creatively to get the most out of a degree.

Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and succeeding was a subject discussed in depth by ex-student Abigayle Wetton. The team welcomed back ex-BA (Hons) in Business and Management student Abigayle, who is now working for world-renowned automotive giant McLaren.

Last year she stepped out of her own comfort zone when she decided to enter the innovation category of the Daily Telegraph’s UK STEM Awards 2016 while still at college, with her ground-breaking ideas to improve safety on tram networks.

Not only did she win the category, her prize of a work placement in McLaren’s applied technologies division led to a permanent job as an account executive within the public transport team after she impressed bosses during her week-long stint.

Abi, who is now account executive within applied technologies at McLaren, said: “It was a bit daunting at first beginning work at McLaren but the support there is great and they’ve helped me discover my strengths and confidence in my new role. It’s been a progressive thing and as it’s gone along I’ve taken on more responsibilities and I’m so fortunate to have had this opportunity.

“It’s been great to share my experiences over the last 18 months, how I came from studying my degree at college to undertaking the role I am doing now at McLaren. I wanted to advise students on the things that I have learnt throughout this journey which they can take with them into their future careers.

“There’s always a lot of pressure on students to think about what they need to be doing after Higher Education. It can be quite stressful. My advice is to put the hard work in, take up opportunities when they come up, and you’ll be a in a great position for success.”

Representatives from the University of Derby, who some of the college courses are accredited with, spoke to students about resilience within learning, problem solving and making healthy choices while managing change.

Andrew Waby, HNC computing student, said: “The conference has been really informative. I’ve heard career and life experiences from many different people such as professors, doctors and industry professionals.

“It’s great to hear about all their very different career pathways and how they’ve got to where they are today. It’s providing us with ideas about the many things you can go on to do after studying and gives us additional confidence too.”

HE and international officer, Ana Smith said: “Our nine guest speakers highlighted to students why they were here in the first place and what their strengths are, as well as how to keep themselves resilient and engage in opportunities. They also pointed out the many paths that their careers can take them on – everything just came together in one holistic view for our students.

“Guest speakers sat in each other’s sessions where possible and commented on the fact that each of their presentations just fit each other’s so well, and provided a very focused message. Students found the day informative, insightful and definitely motivational.”

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