Transform Society’s Hackathon Challenge

“I was looking to reinforce familiar transferable skills, discover new ones and ultimately strengthen my CV”

We recently caught up with third-year Social Policy and Sociology student, Anne, to hear about her experience taking part in the SPAIS Transform Society Hackathon Challenge.

How did you find out about the Hackathon?

Anne Piaget smiling

Through an email from one of my lecturers, Dr Rosie Nelson, which led me to interact with the videos that had been provided on Blackboard.

At first, I felt quite unsure about signing up because I had never participated in anything like it before and it all seemed quite overwhelming, mostly considering it was condensed into two days.

Nonetheless, after watching the videos of Dr Rosie and CEO of Transform Society, James Darley, their eagerness and motivation about the challenge made it apparent that this opportunity couldn’t be missed.

What encouraged me most of all was their apparent desire to create a safe environment for students to meet, improve their competencies as well as their understanding of the world.

What were you hoping to gain from this experience?

I was looking to reinforce familiar transferable skills, discover new ones and ultimately strengthen my CV. Additionally, I was hoping for some insight regarding recruitment processes along with guidance on career prospects. After missing out on most university experiences to the pandemic during my first and some of my second year, I was eager to finally regain a sense of belonging and purpose in my own university. Being able to meet a wide range of students to share, build and create a solution to a shared and relevant problem was one of my main motives.

What did the Hackathon Challenge involve?

The challenge took place over two days and consisted of four-hour sessions in which lunches and snacks were provided.

Firstly, it begun with James Darley introducing the aims and rewarding benefits of his Transform Society initiative which set the pace for the challenge and was then followed presentation on career thinking and career research by the Careers Service, Faculty Employability Consultant, Holly Delafield.

A picture taken at the Hackathon of James Darley speaking to a room full of students

We were given the main theme of the Challenge: ‘Community Relations’ along with the focus: “How could university students build a stronger sense of belonging within the local community?”. After this, we were given a hypothetical £10,000 to generate a proposal to this question and were allocated into our groups and started discussing! The first day ended with guest speakers from the Student Union, alumni, another Academic from the School of Sociology, Politics and International Relations and the Truro Council around the topic of ‘belonging’ within the ‘community’.

The second and final day began with James Darley presenting public sector graduate opportunities along with key pointers regarding recruitment processes. Once this was over, a couple of hours were dedicated to finalising the projects and then presentations began!

What skills did you develop during this Challenge?

Time management because, in unfamiliar settings, the short and condensed nature of the challenge did not allow for many distractions. Additionally, presenting in front of a panel along with the awkward interactions to overcome during set ups was not an exchange I was accustomed to. The challenge enabled me to be exposed to these uncomfortable situations within a very comfortable environment.

What did you enjoy most about the challenge?

Although presenting was quite nerve-racking, the end product of our efforts was what I enjoyed the most simply because each group formulated such various responses to the matter at hand. Additionally, I found reassurance in Holly’s presentation as it included a wide range of career options and career research attitudes which spread a sense of possibility that I greatly needed.

Do you have any advice for your peers?

Go for it! As a third-year student, I am coming to terms with the competitiveness that awaits me once university is over. The various opportunities that our university offers are often overlooked, but I genuinely encourage anyone who is apprehensive of getting out of their comfort zone to engage and sign up as there is nothing to lose and everything to gain to prepare you for real life!

Visit the Transform Society website for more information and watch this space for more challenges to come.

Kota, a male student smiling, with Luke Jerram's "Follow me" art installation superimposed on top of him

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