Personal Reflections on the University of Derby
Studying at university is about stretching and challenging students. How has your experience at Derby stretched and challenged you?
My joint honours degree has widened my abilities. From theory to practicality, Derby Uni has been very accommodating with students that are unsure of their choices like me, and they have done everything in their power to ensure I am having an enjoyable experience whilst also developing key responsibilities to ensure I am ready for the workplace. Joint honours is a difficult pathway to choose as you combine 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? Think about whether you have changed academically, personally, or professionally and how your lecturers/tutors have contributed to and encouraged that.
A big thing for me has been the DRIVEN internships. I have done three over my time here at uni and afterwards I have never felt so confident and sure of myself with what I am capable of doing. 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 started early, were full days, and definitely tested my patience numerous times, but I had never felt more proud of myself at the end when they shook my hand and thanked me for all I had done to help. This, along with my lecturers constant guidance, prepared me to enter the workforce.
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?
In 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 fully 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 behaviour or response. This bothered me for weeks and annoyed a lot of my classmates. One of my research partners once walked out of the classroom because they were so irritated with how I just didn’t understand what they were telling me.
Finally, I had all but given up hope when the Lecturer came over to chat to us about how we were getting on. I explained to him my problem and we sat there for three hours whilst he explained it to me over and over again, until it finally sank in. This helped me to complete something I was genuinely proud of, instead of trying to move past it as fast as possible. After he explained it to me I realised how interesting the subject was, and now I plan to do my independent study on the different methods of research in third year.
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?
Derby Uni has prepared me for life in the real world. With the constant support to find my own niche, I am comfortable to begin applying for jobs that reflect the characteristics I possess. Their three year promise after I graduate gives me all the support and guidance I need to both access even more DRIVEN internships but now 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 way of teaching. Although occasionally I’d meet a teacher that was relatively passionate about their subject at GCSE or A-level, the barriers to entry into an academic university role is so substantial that it quickly weeds out the average or mundane. Although there is no doubt a four hour lecture on the structure of percentile distribution may not be particularly riveting, the lecturers themselves are fascinating, many of them having fascinating side passions, research ideas, and years on top of years of experience to pick from. The lecturer’s passion for how to conduct critical qualitative research, or how themes and power influence our society in large ways always develop my own passions for the subject, and these features are the main influence that incentivize students to look into a topic further.