After studying media production, Clare Brockie became a graduate intern with University of Cumbria’s widening participation team. She then gained a diploma in business administration. Now project manager at Carlisle Key, a charity which helps young people move towards independent living, Clare heralds the opportunities this university bought.

Why University of Cumbria? 

It was local for me. Many things happen here which don’t in other universities.


Why did you choose these courses?

I’d already completed a BA in Media Production, PGCE in Lifelong Learning and decided organisation and business development was what I was interested in. I wanted to work in management and turned to business administration.


What did you like most about your diploma course?  

The flexibility. I was able to work full-time alongside studies. In my new role, this is also allowing me to start the final year of the MBA.  


Did university change your life? 

It gave me a competitive advantage when applying for jobs. Despite a lack of experience, within a year of graduating I became manager of a local charity.  


Did you make lifelong friendships? 

Yes, and I still visit them all over the country.


Have you achieved your career ambitions? 

When I started the diploma, I wanted to move into management. It was a longer-term goal. However, I was very lucky and landed a management job within a year.  


Could you have done this without your degree?                                                                                                        

There’s no way I’d be where I am today without it.  Having that qualification gave my employers evidence that I was able to work at a high-level and manage a high-workload.  


Your career ambitions? 

I want to build up the charity’s profile and expand the service it provides. Eventually, I’d like to work on a bigger project as a CEO.  


What are you most proud of? 

When I started at Carlisle Key, the charity had just moved and I was the only staff member. The drop-in had 22 people in the first month, now it’s around 180. Currently there are three staff members and eleven volunteers.  


Advice to others considering a similar career?

Make sure you get high marks in your modules. My employers looked at mine and it helped me get the job. Also, be sure you choose the correct degree. I wasn’t, hence so many! Once I was focused I became more successful.   

I enjoyed meeting new people the most. There’s a real sense of community and I think this is one of the university’s greatest assets.

What’s your role as Graduate Intern?

Encouraging young people to go to university by raising their aspirations. We organised workshops, presentations and activities with schools on and off campus.

Day to day, we were busy setting-up events, working with student ambassadors, including training, keeping social media up-to-date, going to UCAS fairs, working on events, going out to schools.

The job was heavily events-oriented so one day we might have been at a school in Workington and the next in London for a UCAS fair. It was a very varied, rewarding role.


What made you apply?

I wanted experience in the HE sector. I studied to be a FE teacher and what I enjoyed most was working with students and lending a helping hand. I felt this job would allow me to help young people make informed decisions about going into higher education.


What was the internship application process like and how did it feel to get the job? 

It was good. At my interview I had to give a five-minute presentation on student life in Cumbria.

I was very excited when the role became mine and felt extremely lucky to be given this great opportunity.


What was the best thing about studying at University of Cumbria?

That’s hard because I enjoyed so much of it. I enjoyed meeting new people the most. There’s a real sense of community and I think this is one of the university’s greatest assets.


Any new transferable skills during your intern year? 

I learnt how to deliver presentations to a wide-range of people. Although this needed refining in my current role, I find the presentations much easier and no longer daunting. The internship also gave me a style of working, which I use in my current employment. 


Did it help in your current career? 

If I had not done the internship and taken up the opportunity to complete the PgDip, I would not be in the position I am today.


Advice to students considering an internship? 

It’s a great way to get experience. The university is a respected employer and it puts you in a good position when you’re looking for a job.

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