Blog post

Extra-curricular opportunities

The University of Derby offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities for students to get involved in. Participating in extra-curricular activities is not only a great way to take your mind off your studies, but also enables you to meet new people, develop your skill set and increase your employment prospects. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in a range of extra-curricular activities whilst at Derby.

By Anisha Johal - 14 February 2019

International Travel Awards

This definitely has to be one of the many highlights of my time here at the University. I was successful when applying for the International Travel Awards programme to spend a week in New York City and Washington with the University and other undergraduate and postgraduate students. We had the opportunity to visit the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Coney Island Beach, Botanical Gardens, 9/11 Memorial, Madison Square Gardens, Grand Central, Rockefeller, Chrysler Building, New York Library, Trump Towers, Central Park, Washington Monument, World War 2 Monumnet, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Lincoln Memorial, FDR Memorial, Jefferson Memorial National Archives, Smithsonian Museum, United Nations, Times Square, White House... the list is endless!

Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS)

My academic research proposal for studying the impact of translation on Sikh spiritual texts was successful in securing a scholarship of £2,200. I had to research, showcase and present my project at the annual URSS conference. This enabled me to get a step ahead, ready for my dissertation and gave me the chance to research an academic area of interest that I could potentially develop into a PhD after my undergraduate and masters dissertation. Find out more about the URSS.

Union of Students' Athletic Union & Societies

Sports clubs and societies are a chance to join a group of like-minded people where you can pursue a hobby in your spare time. There are also opportunities to create your own society. I was approached to co-found the English Society and was chosen to be its Vice President. We aim to create a fun environment for students to meet people studying in the Humanities department and simultaneously increase their academic knowledge, as well as hosting trips and days out to significant literary locations.

Academic Representation

This consists of two roles; Programme Representatives and College Representatives. As a Representative you work to improve the student experience at university and act as a link between the students, lecturers and staff. Programme Representatives focus specifically on the course and helps to resolve any course related issues that peers may have, whereas College Representation oversees the whole department. In order to be an Academic Representative, you must be voted into the positions and election takes place each year. You will have to write a manifesto and campaign plan up until elections. I have been an Academic Representative for 3 years at the University. I began as a Programme Representative in year 1 and then ran in the Union of Students' annual elections at the end of the academic year for College Representative, and was successful in securing the role for 2 consecutive academic years. Find out more about academic representation through my article and vlog.

Phantom Media

Phantom Media is the student newspaper, radio and TV. For all aspiring journalists, or students who have an interest in digital media, Phantom Media enables you to practice, develop and acquire the necessary skill set required in a media related career. I wrote for the paper and created blogs for the website in my first year of university and in my second and third year I was successful in securing the Sub-Editor position. This means that I oversee a segment of the paper and have to ensure that content is produced for the newspaper and the blog whilst assisting other students with their articles. To find out about the types of content you can create, check out my blog.

Literature & Decolonisation Network

I am a committee member of the newly found English network at the University, focusing on literature as a decolonising tool. I am working with a group of PhD students on this initiative to raise awareness about diverse literatures and I oversee the Indian literature aspect of the group. To find out more about this, check out my article.

High Fliers

This is a 4 week programme focused on preparing for your future following graduation. I applied for the scheme in my first year as it is useful to think ahead and develop those skills at an early stage. The scheme enabled me to obtain a deeper insight into job/internship/graduate placement applications, different interview techniques and job searching.

Employer Mentoring

If your application is successful, this scheme pairs you up with a local employer who you assist you with your personal and professional growth and development. You will meet your Mentor on a regular basis and devise an action plan of achievement that you wish to fulfil during your time together. I really did benefit from the scheme and thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Futures Award

These are a series of award schemes which are designed to help you improve in a certain area and develop existing transferable skills, as well as acquiring specialist skills in a particular area. There are 3 stages (Recognition, Plus and Leadership) in many categories such as Achievers, Academic Representation, Part-Time Officers, Societies, Social Media, Volunteering, Teaching, and Enterprise.

Marketing Representative

The University has recently launched a new scheme in which students can become Marketing Representatives. This consists of producing content such as blogs and vlogs, case studies, supporting social media content and Facebook Live events, and much more. As well as blogging and vlogging, I was also featured around various campuses on printed collateral, within email communications deployed to prospective students, and on television and online adverts - I could never have even imagined this when I embarked upon my journey here in Derby. The content you create as a Marketing Rep supports prospective students when they are choosing a university and it shares all the positive aspects of studying at Derby.

Raise & Give

This is the Union of Students' charity group which works to raise money for a different charity each year. In the second year of university I supported the marketing plans and worked to increase awareness of the group and chosen charities.

Schools and Colleges Liaison Team (previously known as Outreach)

If you've ever attended an Open Day at the University then you couldn't have missed the Ambassadors in bright orange tops and jumpers. We are employed by the University to help, support and assist at a range of internal and external events such as Open Days, Applicant Days and Summer Schools. I have worked as a Mentor since my first year and I then progressed in my role and completed the Ambassador Development Scheme, with the hope to progress onto a Lead Ambassador.

Careers and Employment Service

This service supports students with a range of career related queries and also offers employment opportunities to students. In my second year of university I worked as an Associate where I engaged with students and graduates about the latest news and opportunities available and worked to increase students' engagement with the service.

Study Skills

For the past two years I have been working as a Study Advisor for the University's Study Skills team. This consists of me holding 30 minute one-to-one consultations with students of all ages, from various courses and levels, supporting their skills such as academic writing, referencing, researching and presentation skills.

Derby Internship Programme

This scheme consists of completing a 100 hour paid internship with various organisations in Derby/Derbyshire. I was a Welfare Support Worker at Derby Pride Academy Secondary School. Here I led GCSE English classes, mentored students one-to-one and supervised teachers. I also completed another internship with Surtal Arts, a South Asian cultural arts charity, where I was a Content Creator and Digital Media Intern.

On Campus Internships (OCIS)

A great opportunity to work at the University over the summer holidays in an area of interest. Opportunities are available in a range of departments. For my internship I worked with the Student Wellbeing Service to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing strategies and suggested solutions to increase awareness around each of the campuses.

This is just a snapshot of my extra-curricular experiences here at the University of Derby and I have honestly loved every second of it! If you want to get involved with any of the initiatives mentioned in this blog, be sure to contact the relevant teams to find out more.

About the author

Anisha Johal
University of Derby student

Student on Integrated Masters in English at the University of Derby. Freelance journalist, columnist and blogger