From student to staff with Karishma Asher

From student to staff with Karishma Asher

Karishma Asher, or Kish as she prefers to be known, graduated from the University of Cumbria in 2017 with a 1st class BA Hons English degree.  During her time as a student she was also the student lead for the English Society, a very successful student group. Kish has decided to stay on at the university but this time as a member of staff, working for the Students’ Union. 

Recently Danny Prescott, the University of Cumbria Students’ Union Chief Executive, got in touch to suggest we interview Kish for Aluminate adding “We’ve all been immensely impressed with her, but then again having worked with Kish as a student leader we suspected we would be!” Here she explains what it’s like to go from student to staff in her own words…

Course studied: English

Year graduated: 2017

Current Employer:University of Cumbria Students’ Union

Job Title: External Sales and Events Coordinator (maternity cover)

Where are you from originally? 

India; my family and I now live in Preston.

What made you choose University of Cumbria?

I wanted to stay in the north for university, so location was a really important factor. When I found out more about the English BA course, I was sold!

Why did you choose your particular course?

Student satisfaction reviews were a really important factor for me, and UoC’s English course was top in the UK for this! I also loved the small community feel of the course, and how it made full use of its location through the Romanticism modules. The tutors were friendly and approachable, which put me at ease straightaway.

I was also drawn to the employability thread worked into each year through the range of modules and assessment methods, which went beyond standard essays and exams, as I was confident that the assessments would help me develop my own skills further than those at other universities.

I can’t stress the quality of the English course enough- everything from the teaching and assessment methods to the support and dedication from the tutors. I loved every minute of it!

What is the most important thing you learnt as a result of your course?

How flexible my skillset is, and how I can promote and apply this in a range of potential fields. Many people tend to assume that English students want to be teachers, but the English course and its employability strand opened up numerous options for me to consider and gave me opportunities to experience them as part of my assessment.

Sum up your thoughts about studying at University of Cumbria in one line.

Can I do it again? 

Please describe your current role and responsibilities.

They’re two very different answers! My primary role is to facilitate commercial income for the SU through sales of merchandise, NUS cards, and external advertising, and to also coordinate key events such as Welcome Week and the Success Awards. However as we’re a small, close-knit team, our roles overlap regularly so each day is dramatically different from the last!

What were your career ambitions when you started studying and do you think that you have achieved them?

I wanted to continue studying at a postgraduate level, and although I haven’t yet begun another course I feel more prepared to return to study.

Would you be where you are today, without your degree?

I honestly have no idea- the course helped me develop in so many ways, from my academic and professional skills to the way I think and express myself.

Why did you choose to work at UoC?

It was an opportunity to experience several fields at once, as I have gained a deeper understanding of a higher education institution, while working in a sales position for a charity which provides support and opportunities for students.

What was it like to go from student to staff?

It was exciting and comforting at the same time, as I was working in a familiar environment but with the authority to enter doors marked “staff only”.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Seeing the positive impact of the services UCSU provides to students, and knowing my role contributes to this.

What are you most proud of?

Recently the Officers and I launched the Pink Spots Project, which aims to provide free sanitary products on campus to students and staff in times of need. Period poverty is a fast-growing issue in the UK, and I’m really proud to be part of a project which tackles this.

What advice would you like to pass on to our current students if they wish to pursue a similar career to you?

Engage with the SU as much as possible! The opportunities in volunteering, democracy, and Groups provide invaluable experience, and offer a chance to develop non-academic skills in a supportive environment while making a positive difference.