Challenges, success and growth

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.

European Social Funding blue and white banner

My experience at the University of Derby has stretched and challenged me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I know that sounds kind of scary, don’t worry, it wasn’t intended to freak you out. Being at Derby has pushed me in the best ways. I have learnt so much about myself on this journey, both academically and personally.

There have been modules that I have been apprehensive about and have actually ended up loving. There have been times that have really tested me emotionally, yet with the support of the University, I have come out stronger.

The lecturers here at Derby are fantastic. There’s a reason we are rated Gold in TEF (this means we have gold-standard teaching). All of the lecturers I have come across are understanding and encouraging, meaning I can go to them for help and not feel judged in the slightest.

One way my lecturers have challenged me and my peers is by adapting tasks to suit a workplace setting, which is the perfect way to put theory into practice. We have also been given very niche scenarios to work with, which has required us to think creatively and outside of the box.

One of my lecturers, in particular, has gone above and beyond to strengthen me in numerous ways, including professionally. They have helped to create work-based opportunities for me which have allowed me to grow in my career. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity.

The encouragement from the lecturers and support staff at Derby has been second to none. Without this encouragement, I might not have taken the opportunities that I have. One of these opportunities was my DRIVEN internship role, which has allowed me to work in my chosen field, part-time. I earnt money whilst doing this, as well as increasing my chances of employment.

Although my internship is in marketing, I have witnessed various areas of the business, allowing me to understand all of the different functionalities and how they work together in the smoothest manner.

Mostly, I have been doing the social media and public relations for a local street food market, Bustler, which has involved taking lots of photographs, writing copy, reaching out to local publications and influencers. As well as, planning ways to attract new and returning customers, web design and execution, working on video and building relationships with traders within the street food industry.

This opportunity has taught me about photography, videography, customer service, writing, website development, networking, external communications with other businesses, as well as internal comms, and so much more.

I love that there is such an emphasis on employability at Derby, as I think it really makes such a huge difference to someone’s overall university experience. I am lucky to have had so many fantastic opportunities within marketing, my chosen career, and I think Derby’s support with this is something that really sets our University aside from the rest.

I have also had the opportunity to travel through the International Travel Awards scheme, I went to Rome in May 2019 and it certainly broadened my cultural horizons. During this time I learnt so much about myself. I came away understanding so much more about the University and built some great relationships with staff and peers.

This trip enriched my university experience, and without it, I wouldn’t have received several opportunities that I have undertaken to date, such as speaking at important university events and paid work with people that I met whilst travelling to Italy. It also prepared me for life after university in many ways, it allowed me to get used to travelling with people I didn’t know, being outside of my comfort zone and challenging myself in potentially daunting, yet rewarding, ways.

Being at university makes me so much more driven, and excited for the future I am creating for myself. I wouldn’t have come this far if it wasn’t for the brilliant staff here at the University.

Every day, I am learning new things from so many different people, from so many different walks of life. From my tutors to the people that work in my halls. Being at Derby has allowed me to start creating the future I really want, as well as helping me feel happy, confident and content with where I am at.

My university journey may have had its ups and downs; however, I know that I am on the right path, being here at the University of Derby. And for that, I am forever thankful.

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