My name’s Chloe Hinton and I am currently in my final year of my BSc Psychology degree. Throughout my time at University I have achieved all four levels of the Graduate+ Award. I started to complete them after qualifying for the Academic Award Scheme during my first year. I wanted to do this to reflect on the multiple transferrable skills I have developed since starting university, and the extra-curricular activities and employment I have partaken in during this time. This is brilliant reflective practice when applying for jobs, which I am currently doing, and holds relevance to future job aspirations.
How long did it take you to complete your Gold and Platinum award?
I have completed my Gold award twice. I originally completed the Gold award in March 2020; after completing the Bronze and Silver quite quickly as I was able to qualify for a lot of the activities having always been keen to develop my successes and achievements outside of academia. I then had to re-do one section of my Gold award for a component of my dissertation; we had to select one competency of the award and apply this to an aspect of our project. I chose to reflect on gaining ethical approval for my data collection and I applied this to the ‘creative problem solvers’ competency. I found this really useful to go back on the processes I had been through and the link it has with the STAR technique. I then gained my Gold award again, which enabled me to qualify to complete the Platinum. I gained this very quickly as I have completed a lot of extra-employability and had a lot of experiences which allowed me to respond effectively to this. I achieved my Platinum award in March 2022 but had been able to reflect on practices throughout the past year.
What activities did you complete? Which one was your favourite one?
I was able to effectively reflect on each of the four sections of this award based on the experiences and transferable skills and attributes I have developed. For the “Enterprising” competency, I chose to reflect on my experience working in a part-time role in retail alongside my studies. I chose to reflect on this, because I understand how even though this role may not be directly relatable to my future career aspiration it is still valuable experience which allows me to develop as a person and improve multiple transferrable skills; which ultimately will benefit me in the long-run. For “Global Outlook” I chose to reflect on my experiences working as Volunteer Research Assistant on a project with members of the psychology department. I was able to link this attribute to this activity based on the literature searching I had completed which focused on cultural differences within the demographic we were utilising. I chose to reflect on the “Creative Problem Solver” competency, through attributing this to my experiences working as a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) when I was on my placement last year, working as a mental health mentor in a secondary school where I would frequently assist and deliver MHFA to students in need, enabling me to accrue the 150 hours needed. The final competency I reflected on, and my favourite one to complete, was “Professional and Work Ready”. I spoke about my time on placement where I fully immersed myself within my job role in order to ensure I was getting the most out of this experience. A placement was never something I intended to do, but I found it the most enjoyable, rewarding and beneficial experience (both personally and professionally). The experiences I gained were invaluable and have really helped me now when applying for jobs- without them I would definitely not be as professional and work ready as I am. I found reflecting on this for my Platinum reward to be really enjoyable and allowed me to fully consider how much I was allowed to experience on placement and the really beneficial impact this has had.
How was the Platinum award different from the Bronze, Silver and Gold and was there anything that you learnt from this?
I found this award more challenging than the other three, simply because of the demands needed from you in order to qualify for it (especially the time requirements which I know are difficult to achieve). You do have to be a lot more dedicated and focused to ensure you are achieving this, which can be challenging as a university student when you have so many other things going on aswell! Ensuring you are being really reflective in your practice is something that is a bit more challenging compared to the previous awards, however by following the STAR technique this really does help you and ensures you achieve the award!
Why should BCU students complete their Platinum Award?
All levels of Graduate+ are really essential to complete; they allow you to be really reflective in your practice and experiences to understand how they have benefitted you (even when you may not think they have). I think the Platinum award is really essential when linking to careers and employability, as all employers want to know about your transferrable skills so having something you can reflect on through this award shows you can already do it, and really is great when filling out application forms and going for interviews for jobs! Completing all four levels of this award also looks brilliant on your CV as it shows how you have really done so much more at university than just the academic side of things.
How has the Graduate+ award helped you grow and develop as an individual?
I have really enjoyed completing all levels of my Graduate+ award as I believe it has allowed me to develop my reflective practices to grow personally and professionally. I think being able to reflect really effectively and actively is such an important skill to have, especially when going into employment and I think this has definitely been improved as a result of completing the award. It has been really beneficial for me as well to reflect on how my experiences outside of university (placement, employment, volunteering) are all really relatable, useful and significant in employability goals for the future. When I am working as a student ambassador on open days, I am constantly telling prospective students and their families about this award and the benefits of it!
Graduate+ also tailors toward so many aspects which can be applicable to anyone; for example, something as simple as making a LinkedIn Account! Before completing my Bronze award, this had never crossed my mind but now this is something I recommend so many of my friends to do! I think completing the Graduate+ award has been really useful throughout my degree, and is going to benefit me in the future.