Case study

Igniting
a passion

For Tom Berrington, university has been about the opportunities. That link between education and real-world experience ignited a passion in him and allowed him to develop his skills – and his employability.

Focusing on opportunities

It started with his lecturers. Tom absorbed their enthusiasm. He explains: “My lecturers are passionate about the subject, imaginative, have experience in different markets and different industries.

“That level of commitment was one of the biggest drivers that pushed me to try and find the things that I really enjoyed and all the things that I’m really passionate about today. I think that’s one of the best things that I’ve experienced at university.”

Tom realised his passion was a simple one: helping people. “I never knew what I liked, what I didn’t like, or what I was meant to do,” he says. “Now I know."

And Tom’s lecturers pointed him towards the opportunities that were available, whether it was internships and societies, or different aspects of his creative passions, such as web design and SEO (search engine optimisation).

Tom's story

Tom Berrington using a camera

View Tom's story video transcript

Perseverance pays off

Tom's opportunities started with volunteering, with work experience roles, then internships through the university, using his skills in creative marketing. He has marketed businesses that help disadvantaged families and children in the community. He has developed technology solutions to reduce our environmental impact, and to support new students with access to opportunities.

The majority of Tom’s opportunities have come through our DRIVEN internship programme, which helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire recruit talent and fill skills gaps. And many of these opportunities led to something more.

He says: “Thanks to the university’s DRIVEN scheme, I was able to get multiple roles that led on to permanent part-time positions. I applied to something like 50-60 internships and probably 30-40 work-experience placements. My success rate is still probably 10%, so one out of every ten. It’s just a matter of persevering.

“The knowledge I have gained over my studies have allowed me to be more confident, persuasive, considered, and intelligent in both how I conduct myself and how I use the resources at my disposal to support both my own development as well as the businesses I work with.”

Tom Berrington presenting
Tom Berrington talking with the Careers and Employment Service

From global to local

But Tom has also created opportunities for himself. He co-founded a university social action society called Enactus Derby and attracted funding from Asda and Ford. He explains: “Enactus is a big organisation globally that is a social action project where they put on relatively small projects, for example a food bank or a food delivery service or a type of tech, something that helps the lives of disadvantaged people.

“We put on two projects, In The Making, which is helping parents during Covid, and DeLiver25, a support group for people over 25 who are suffering from liver disease.

“I’d never done anything like that before. I’d never been in charge of anything. I’d never founded something like that, nothing really that I could say that was making an improvement in other people’s lives.

“But we could not have done that project without the University of Derby. We managed to get the support of lots of lecturers that helped us step by step through the process, from so many different people, so many different groups, improving our direction on the different projects and getting the funding.”

Tom Berrington selecting a book in the library

Why choose Derby?

Once Tom knew he wanted to explore his interests in marketing and media, Derby was on his radar. “Derby’s Marketing course was one of the top ten in the country,” he says. “And it’s an international university. That was something I liked about it. But I wouldn’t have known how good the University of Derby was without actually going to it.

“I went to a couple of different Open Days and realised very quickly the high-quality nature of the University. I really hadn’t seen that sort of university before. Very modern-looking.

“And also there’s the DRIVEN internship programme, the Be The Boss programme, all those different programmes that mingled education with actual real-world experience. I never knew that was really found at university. And all the different societies they have, Phantom Media, the student paper. All these different things I wanted to get involved with.

“The great thing about Derby is that it feels like a large university, a place in London or a place in Manchester, but it also manages to keep this feeling of community, which I’ve never had anywhere else.”

Tom Berrington headshot

Coming to Derby was the single most life-changing experience of my life. There is always more I can be doing but I’m so lucky to be in an industry that I’m passionate about and that I feel I can make a real difference to the lives of people around me.

Tom Berrington
Marketing and Media

What does the future hold?

Tom is confident he’ll have a full-time job when he finishes his degree due to all the work he’s put in both academically and professionally during his time in Derby. He says there is “an overabundance of opportunities” out there for him.

“Since I can remember, I wanted something I could call my own.” he says. “I have been working and saving and building relationships and opportunities with amazing mentors, talented businesspeople, and brilliant friends.

“All these different things that I’ve been doing for the last couple of years have been building to this. Last year, I would have never got any offers. And now people are coming to me and saying we really think that you’ll be a good fit.”