In the last two years, over 1,678 people have given their time to the University — helping to prepare our students for life after their studies and contributing to our world class research. While our volunteering programme was launched just two years ago, the breadth of voluntary activities our community is undertaking is staggering and inspiring.
From mentoring student businesses and delivering student talks, to hosting events worldwide and welcoming our international students to Nottingham — over 1,000 students have benefitted from our volunteers’ experience in the last year alone.
Tim Smith (Law, 1991) is one of these volunteers. An experienced lawyer and partner at the city law firm, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Tim came to talk to our philosophy students and share his experience and knowledge.
“By sharing my experiences, I realised I could help give Nottingham students a bit of an edge,” said Tim.
“In the legal profession, it’s very hard to get a training contract or similar entry-level position — there’s so much competition and students are expected to have it all — the knowledge, finesse and polish. I wanted to show them how the skills and techniques they are developing through study can be applied to different professions.
“Volunteering for the University gives me the chance to do something that interests me personally and give back to an institution that helped launch me on my way. I hope others feel the same — it’s great spending time helping Nottingham students succeed.”
Tim’s advice made a lasting impact on Ruth Ng (Philosophy, 2015). Since graduating, Ruth has worked in recruitment and is now Head of Growth at Northcoders, a coding bootcamp for the North of England.
“Tim’s lecture has had a huge influence on my career to date. Although it was a few years ago, Tim’s lecture gave me a grounding in some key skills that have served me well throughout my career so far,” said Ruth.
“I enjoyed my time in recruitment, but eventually left to pursue my ambition to work in technology. Northcoders trained me to code, then hired me as a software developer and now I’m Head of Growth. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t learned how to communicate with clarity and credibility. Tim’s lecture was really pivotal for me.”
A meeting of minds
Choosing a career is an exciting but daunting prospect for many final year students. Through our eMentoring scheme, over 360 alumni have generously offered their time and expertise to help students taking these first tentative steps. Meet Laura and mentor, Paul (Chemistry, 1995).
“Mentoring Laura has been very rewarding. It’s undeniably good to give back on a professional level but the process has motivated me personally too. I spent six years studying at Nottingham, which opened doors to possibilities I hadn’t anticipated. Working through the difficulties and challenges faced by current students like Laura has given me a new appreciation of the lessons I learnt building my own career,” said Paul.
“eMentoring allows a conversation to develop in a well thought out process over a period of time. It’s asynchronous so the mentor and mentee can think about their responses and thoughts have time to mature before we correspond which helps get the best out of both parties.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The biggest challenge for anyone leaving university is working out what you want to do next. Only then can you plan how to achieve it. The world is full of opportunities but it’s no good if you don’t know what they are. I genuinely felt that I could help Laura discover new possibilities, and have gained a connection to a talented young person who wants to make a difference in the world.”
Laura added, “I’m looking at a career in biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, so I really wanted to connect with someone who knows first-hand what the industry is like. Paul was ideal for me — he worked in a post-doc laboratory at Nottingham has built a very successful career. He is now Senior Vice-President for a biopharmaceutical company in Denmark.
“The process is online so you can connect with anyone around the world. It’s easy to take part — we started with some background about me and what I was interested in, then we talked about Pail’s experiences. I asked lots of questions and have gained invaluable knowledge about the industry and the idea of working abroad.”
“I did extensive online research, went to careers events — I’m one of those people who maxes out on the Careers Service — but thanks to Paul’s support, I now have a much stronger understanding of the industry and what I want to do.
“Thank you Paul for taking the time to share your insights with me.”
A warm welcome
Starting university is a new and empowering, if a sometimes daunting, experience for many students. For international students, starting a new life in a new country as a Nottingham student is a lot to take in. Thankfully, dedicated volunteers offer a warm welcome to our international students through the Family Link programme.
David and Therese Whitehall have met many students through the programme, and learnt a lot about different cultures along the way.
“We volunteer as part of Family Link — where international students are ‘buddied’ with local Nottingham families to help settle them in to a new country.
“Through the programme we met Tafseer and Moshin from Pakistan. They came round a few times, had dinner with us and met our family. The thing we found most valuable was their insight into international relations. We’re both former teachers approaching retirement and were originally just looking for new ways to spend our free time, but being part of Family Link has in this way, continued the process of our own education.
“Experiencing different views and cultures is a positive thing and holding out the hand of friendship to someone who is not from this country is well worth doing. We got a lot out of the experience and we’re excited to be taking part again this year.”
This year, we are honoured to report the official closing of Impact: The Nottingham Campaign. A huge thank you to all our 18,500 donors who have helped raise a phenomenal £242 million, and to our 1,678 volunteers who have so generously shared their time, skills and expertise with our University community.
While our Impact Campaign is coming to an end, our work is not done. We will build on these strong foundations, ensuring that our University always remains a place where merit — not background — defines who becomes a Nottingham student, and where world-class research continues to tackle the global challenges faced by generations today and in the future.