The Gold Scholarship Programme is one of the newest programmes at the university and offers students who normally wouldn't be able to attend university, the opportunity to do so. On top of the monetary support offered (£5000 per year), it also provides wonderful opportunities to not only develop your skills and grow as a person but to make great friends and contacts through networking sessions. For anyone who is concerned about the financial stresses at uni, I highly recommend looking into the Gold.
As part of the Gold, you are required to fulfil several requirements throughout the course of the year: designed to help you make the most of your time at University and develop your employability. These include 50 hours of volunteering, 2 STEP extra sessions (personal development training sessions of your own choice) and attending several events throughout the year. Whilst these may sound daunting alongside your studies, there are many opportunities to help you achieve these. One of these, which I have been involved in for the past 2 years, is being a student ambassador.
Why did I sign up to be a Student Ambassador?
Given that being a student ambassador is a paid job, it may sound strange that I chose to undertake this as part of my Gold volunteering. However, I quickly found out that 60% of my volunteering hours could be completed through ambassador work! I was very fortunate to live with a second-year scholar in my first year who told me about this and so I applied fairly quickly. On top of this, as an ambassador you can select the specific times and days you would like to work and so there is no stress on completing a certain amount of hours ever. This is so helpful as it means you can focus on your studies in stressful times and not have to work. In a similar way to other campus jobs, it is paid at the standard rate of £10.09 an hour, meaning you can complete much fewer hours and still get paid the same when compared to a normal part-time job.
The recruitment process
The recruitment process begins with filling out an application form consisting of the standard information (Name, contact, results, etc.). However, you are then required to draft answers to a setlist of situational questions: this is used to determine if you are suitable for the job and give an insight into some of the situations you may experience. If successful at the paper application stage, you will then be invited to a group interview alongside the other candidates. I found my interview to be really enjoyable as the staff were extremely friendly and being in a group with other candidates takes the pressure off slightly compared to a 1:1 interview. It almost felt more like a friendly discussion at some points rather than an interview where again you are faced with more situational based questions. If you are successful at this stage, you will then be invited to join the team as a new ambassador! New ambassadors have to participate in 2 training sessions, although these are paid which makes it a lot easier!
What have I been involved in?
Personally, I have participated in several different events throughout my time as an ambassador. The most common events I usually take on are the weekly campus tours. These are a short (~2 hours) tour around the campus to which anybody can sign up, it is however usually potential students. I have always really enjoyed these as they allow me to meet new people and talk to them about the university, which if you ask anyone who knows me, I love to talk. In addition to this, I have assisted on several school visits to campus for a range of ages. This again involves a campus tour but also involves a Q & A session at the end of the day, a fantastic opportunity for students to learn more about the university. As an ambassador, we also signpost for visitors on open days and Applicant Visit Days. I have found all of these events very fulfilling and enjoyed every second of them, perhaps the best thing about being an ambassador is the range of events you can get involved in!
Ambassadors speaking with visitors in the summer sunshine
What have I gained?
For me, the biggest thing I have gained from being an ambassador is the development of my confidence and personal skills. All of the events I have participated in involve meeting new people whilst being friendly and energetic. Something which I now love. In addition to this, I have made several friends both through the other ambassadors and the team behind us. I see the ambassador team as friends rather than my bosses, and this makes everything a lot more enjoyable. Whilst it sounds quite weird, for me, the pay is a side bonus as I enjoy the work and have never experienced a dull moment!