Harriet Webster - College of Business, Law and Social Sciences - University of Derby

Harriet Webster, BA (Hons) Events Management, 2015

What are you doing now?

After I finished studying I was eager to find a suitable job to launch my career where I could put my degree and experience in events and retail to use straight away. I managed to secure a meeting with both the Founder and Head of Retail at Valley CIDS. After hearing about the charity I knew I wanted to be a part of the work they did, and felt that my previous experience, along with my Events Management degree, would suit a role within the company well.

After a second successful interview I was amazed that they had not only offered me employment but created a brand new dual role within the charity. I started as Retail Visual Merchandiser and Events Manager at the beginning of June 2015 and I love the exciting challenges it brings. Every day is different and full on but it’s very rewarding being able to use my skills and knowledge in all areas of retail and events for such a visionary charity.

The merchandising side is very creative and allows me to experiment whilst working with the shop managers and volunteers to create exciting displays, with the aim of increasing sales and promoting the work Valley CIDS carries out. The Events Management role is challenging and requires me to implement what I have learnt from my degree. I have to use my marketing skills and managerial knowledge to gain respect of fellow colleagues and get everyone on board to research and help run events.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I actually started my degree six years ago at Leeds Metropolitan (now Beckett) University. I completed my first year but made the decision to leave as I felt I wasn’t ready for Higher Education at that time in my life. I then had a career gap where I gained a vast amount of experience in areas including cabin crew, restaurant hosting and retail management. After travelling around South East Asia for three months I decided I was ready to return to Higher Education. As I had already completed year one of an Events Management degree and still felt it was a great course to suit my personality, I decided to carry out year two and three. I was ready to learn new things and I knew the course at Derby prided itself on experiential learning, which for me was perfect as I’m a very practical person.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

I chose the University of Derby for a number of reasons. I’m from Buxton so studying my degree at the Buxton campus meant I could live at home and still work part time within the local area. I also had a meeting with Olivia Ramsbottom, lecturer on Events, and her commitment and enthusiasm encouraged me to return to finish my degree. The final factor was that the course was made up of practical elements and hands-on assignments, rather than exams, which meant I could apply the experience from my career break to help me with my studies.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

The impact of studying this course at Derby has been crucial in securing my job and giving me the confidence to go out and get what I want. My time at the University of Derby has proved to me that I can do things I didn’t think I could when I was at Leeds. I’ve gained so much confidence when presenting in front of people and have surprised myself each time I handed in a piece of work at what grades I had achieved.

I also decided to become a student mentor for the University to help inspire other young people to choose the right pathway in education. This helped me build on my experience as I attended education fairs to promote Derby and the courses they have to offer.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

The lecturers at the University were by far one of the most important factors impacting on my experience and the overall grade I achieved. As I mentioned above, speaking to Olivia Ramsbottom was a deciding factor in me choosing to finish my degree in the first place. The dedication from the staff making up the events team was encouraging. As our classes were smaller than Leeds it meant each student could have one-to-one tuition and lecturers were dedicated to getting you the best qualification possible. My final year was the year everything came together and I wouldn’t have been quite so calm if I hadn't had the devoted help and support from my dissertation supervisor Pascal Mandelartz. Nothing was ever too much trouble and there would always be someone willing to help.

What are your future plans?

I plan to work my way up the career ladder, preferably within the charity sector. After finally finding my career pathway I’m enjoying putting my skills and knowledge into action.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

I would say do your research, attend open days, speak to lecturers and just do it! Events Management is a great course as it consists of many different elements, not just events. My business knowledge has expanded greatly as a result of my degree.

"The impact of studying this course at Derby has been crucial in securing my job and giving me the confidence to go out and get what I want" Harriet Webster