Student leader roles consistently make up around 30% of the intensive skills submissions on the Bristol PLUS Award, and the impact this leadership experience has on students can be extremely far-reaching, both personally and professionally. In 2017-18 we had a record number of student leaders apply for the Outstanding Award, with 50% of applicants articulating the significant contribution they’d made within their Student Union roles.
One of these students was Hari, the 2016-17 Chair of Bristol RAG. We caught up with him after graduation to see how the Outstanding Award experience had helped him get to where he is now.
What activity did you do for your Outstanding Award?
I used my role as Chair of Bristol RAG for my Outstanding Award activity – it fitted in well with the Innovation and Enterprise theme, because we completely overhauled the RAG brand, aims, events and even its philosophy! I focused on making sure that we were not only focusing on short-term successes, but also projects which were sustainable and would set RAG up to blossom long into the future.
We trialled lots of different things with varying levels of success, but by the end of the year we had commissioned and implemented a new logo and brand strategy; run a number of completely new fundraising and promotional events; raised a record amount of money for charity; and most importantly, instilled a feeling that RAG had a lot of potential for future years.
How did you benefit from achieving the Outstanding Award? Why would you recommend it to others?
The Outstanding Award helped me in two main areas:
Firstly, it provided an opportunity to reflect on my past achievements, draw the positive impact and skills I’d learned and articulate these to others. I think it’s a common habit to just do things without taking the time to think about what you’re learning. To have something which made me boil down my experiences into the key lessons was not only useful for interview style scenarios, but also for my own personal development and understanding.
The second area was the professional-style practice it gave me, especially with the interview. Up to that point I hadn’t really ever had that real-world interview experience. Being able to practice with relatively low stakes (compared to a job interview!) gave me lots of confidence and set me up to go into further interviews feeling much more confident in myself.
People often recommend the Outstanding Award as a way of recognising your achievements, but I think what might not be clear is the depth to which you can feel the Award affect you personally. I not only recognised the things I’d done, but how they had affected me as a person, and I saw how I could use what I learned to set myself up to go even further. That extra level of recognition is something I think you can only see the benefit of retrospectively, and so the Outstanding Award is a must to get to the stage where you can value that!
What is next for you? What are your career goals?
I’m currently working in a really cool company in Oxford where I’m (hopefully!) further developing the skills I used for the Outstanding Award and taking them to the next level, as well as learning and developing skills I absolutely did not have before! My ultimate career goal is to just give as much as I can – what I really care about is using the time and skills I have to leave as positive an impact as possible on the world. Having the Outstanding Award has definitely given me the confidence to feel that I can go on to do as much as possible, and that as long as I keep motivating myself #theskysthelimit.
To find out more about the Bristol PLUS and Outstanding Awards visit our webpages. Introductory talks start in September – challenge accepted?