Building a career through the DRIVEN internship scheme

The DRIVEN programme is the University of Derby’s GRADS for D2N2 project. The GRADS for D2N2 project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and is part of the ESF High Level Skills programme. The programme is delivered by the University of Derby as part of the High Level Skills consortium which also includes Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, and Nottingham City Council.

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Tom studies a Joint Honours degree – immersing himself in both Marketing and Media. We asked him a series of questions to find out more about his experiences at University. His story shares how he grasped employment opportunities through our DRIVEN internship scheme and how he worked with academics to develop, grow and embrace challenge.

Studying at university is about stretching and challenging our students. How has your experience at Derby stretched and challenged you?

My Joint Honours degree has widened my abilities. From theory to practicality, the University of Derby is very accommodating with students, like me, who are unsure of their choices. They have done everything in their power to ensure that I am having an enjoyable experience whilst also developing key responsibilities to make sure that I am ready for the workplace. Joint Honours combines two courses that may have very different examination methods and techniques but with the valuable help from lecturers and advisors alike, I have excelled at subjects I never thought I’d know how to.

How do you feel studying at Derby has transformed you? How have you changed academically, personally, or professionally? And how have your lecturers/tutors contributed to and encouraged that?

A big thing for me has been the DRIVEN internships. I have completed three over my time here at University. As a result of this, I have never felt so confident and sure of own capabilities. My academic work directly reflected my practical work and it gave me a keen eye, an inquisitive mind, and a motivated personality. I often discussed my internships with my lecturers and asked them for suggestions on research angles, design theory, and personal opinions.

The internships I took on, consisted of full days and were very intense at the time. They definitely tested my patience on numerous occasions, but I had never felt more proud of myself at the end when employers shook my hand and thanked me for all I had done to help. This, alongside my lecturer’s constant guidance, prepared me to enter the workforce ready.

And do you feel you’ve had academic support from your teachers when you needed it? How have they supported you to develop both academically and personally?

I am doing a Marketing & Media Joint Honours degree and I am in my second year, many of the modules were on methods of qualitative and quantitative research. When we started analysing why and how questions affected participants differently, I couldn’t completely get to grips with how we could find meaning from their answers. I found it very difficult to link how someone answers a question to how that affected their behavior or response.

In light of this, my lecturer gave his time and effort into making sure I understood what I was doing, I’ve never had that in any other academic situation before. This helped me to complete something I was proud of. Instead of trying to move past the problem as fast as possible, I realised how interesting the subject actually was. I now plan to complete my independent study in my third year on the varying methods of research available to us. Without this support, I would have never understood, and wouldn’t have discovered something that I now enjoy doing.

Your degree is only part of the story. What happens next is crucial in terms of jobs, careers, future study and adventures in the wider world. How has the University of Derby helped you prepare for life after University?

The University of Derby has prepared me for life in the real world. With the constant support to find my own niche, I feel comfortable enough to begin applying for jobs that reflect the skills I’ve developed. The University’s three-year promise after I graduate gives me all the support and guidance I need to access even more DRIVEN internships, which are full-time across the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas, as well as advice and potential funding to set up my own business.

Have we given you unexpected opportunities, or changed the way you think about yourself or your future? Can you explain what these were and how they changed things for you?

The biggest change I experienced was the method of teaching at university. Being a lecturer at this level requires a level of dedication and passion for the subject and this shows in the way tutors speak and teach. The tutors themselves are fascinating, many of them have interesting hobbies, research ideas, and years of experience that others can learn from. The lecturers’ passion for how to conduct critical qualitative research, or how themes and power influence our society have helped to develop my own passion for the subjects. It is these qualities that incentivise students to look into topics further.

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