We spoke to Jess Elgar, final year BSc Food & Nutrition student, about her experience with Hallam Award. Jess is going for gold after getting involved in lots of extracurricular activities and developing her attributes throughout her time at Hallam.

So Jess, what inspired you to do the Hallam Award?

It was a mixture of things really. A couple of my friends mentioned they had done it and it sounded like it could be really useful so I read up on it. I realised I’ve actually done quite a lot of extracurricular activities at university and thought I’d like to have some sort of recognition and a way to record everything I’ve done at uni. It seemed like such a good way to reflect on what it’s taught me, and it’s quite easy to forget what you’ve done across the three years, so it was a great way for me to keep track of what I’ve achieved.

Why did you choose to apply during your final year?

I think I was getting a bit stressed about where I was going to be next, and quite a few jobs / employers were asking how I’ve developed or what I’ve achieved, so I thought the Hallam Award would be able to showcase my successes. Then, for when I go to interviews and assessments, it has given me a story to tell about myself.

So, could you tell us a bit about your extracurricular involvement?

I was a Course Rep and Department Rep for my Bronze, and that was in my first year. So, I was representing food & nutrition, and I did that just to sort of throw myself in at the deep end and learn a bit about the university and how they work, but also to develop how I communicate with other students, as confidence was something which I had struggled with. I then wanted to push myself even further, so became a department rep where I was on the board, and had a bit more responsibility within the role. This involved harder work duties and meeting deadlines, so it really helped me to advance my skills and attributes, as well as become more organised and more responsible.

Something which I took part in during final year which really helped me out was Common Purpose. That was a three day course and it really encouraged me to think more laterally about problems and focus on emotional intelligence, which I hadn’t really heard of much before. Learning about this taught me how to develop my emotional intelligence and utilise it to be a better person and a better employee. There was also lots of people at the workshop from different backgrounds so it was really beneficial to know how to interact and communicate with them.

Finally, for my Gold Award, I’ve recently been accepted on the TFE Food Panel, in which I will work alongside tutors, industry and the governing board to assess the way students are taught on my course at uni. This is a great opportunity as I’ll have the chance to communicate with people higher up and at different levels to myself and my course mates, and hopefully gain new leadership skills.

 

How did you find the Hallam Award process? (submissions, guidance, feedback…)

Yeah, it was really simple and easy. It’s good because you have plenty of time to complete your submissions. If you don’t have time to do it all in one session then you can save it part way through and come back to complete when it is convenient for you. It also works well if you are reflecting on attributes that you are still in the process of developing, or you’re still doing the activity. The workflow is very easy to fill out and you receive feedback quickly from the Hallam Award Team, I got mine back almost straight away, it is so efficient.

How will the Hallam Award and your extracurricular activities help you in the future?

I think the Hallam Award and all I’ve done whilst at university has shown me that I haven’t just got a degree, but I’ve got so much more out of these experiences. I’ve built my confidence up and gained responsibility, I’ve built my knowledge of other cultures and loads of different aspects within myself and my personality. It will help me not only when applying for jobs and in working environments, but in everyday life, connecting with people and pushing myself further to achieve more.

And finally, why might you recommend the Hallam Award to other students?

Because it gives you the opportunity to reflect on yourself and what you’ve developed, and also to push yourself. You can get a sense of different aspects of university life and what goes on. And it really makes you stand out from the crowd.

Thanks to Jess for interviewing with us and good luck with the rest of your Hallam Award journey!