So what DID you do in the summer holidays?
Oh, how I hated that first essay back at school. You would have thought teachers could come up with something better than that, but then again, isn’t it the first question you ask your fellow students when you get back together again?
But with Covid, our summer opportunities have been limited and less exciting than normal, so not too much to talk about. However, I have been lucky. I haven’t done euro rail, or crewed a yacht to the other side of the world, but I have managed to make connections and get some valuable work experience.
Throughout the holidays I have been helping out with the college and university campus tours at University College Birmingham. It is good way to practise communication skills, meet some great people and get to know students from a variety of other courses. I have found myself in parts of the University I never knew existed. Who knows, I might even join the gym. Alex is so enthusiastic every time I take visitors there I feel it is almost my duty.
So if you feel this is something you could do, apply to be a student ambassador as soon as you can.
Also at uni, I have been helping out the Admissions and Marketing teams with a number of different tasks over the busy results period. Some of the work can be repetitive and a little boring but it’s an important job and you have to keep focused and get your facts right.
I have ventured outside Birmingham too, completing work experience placements – with Claire Clark MBE, The Ritz and Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons. Then just down the road in the Jewellery Quarter, I have been helping with a foodie start-up. It’s early days but incredibly exciting. You will be hearing more of that, and my work experience too, in subsequent blogs.
I also got my hands dirty helping to design and plant a border for the Gardeners World Live show at the NEC with a couple of friends. The border was inspired by a group of young people with complex needs, including sight loss, and investigated different ways of ‘seeing’ without sight. We were delighted when we were awarded a ‘gold’ by the judges who also said ours was the best interpretation of the brief. Claire Clark supported the project too which was a real privilege. She came over to help us plant and made some biscuits complete with bee pollen and edible flowers for the press day which was fabulous and certainly won over the judges. Sadly we did not get to meet Monty Don but Carol Klein was very generous with her time and comments.
As soon as the show was over, we then had the task of dismantling the border and replanting it at a residential home for young people in London. That was most definitely the best part of all when we saw what a difference it made to the residents, their carers and families.
Another high point of the summer was meeting Masterchef finalists at Tatton Park, one of the venues for the Foodie Festival. Tom Rhodes was there alongside Laura Michael who was giving her first public demo since the TV programme. She said she was really nervous but you would never have thought so. She was brilliant.
And a mention must go to Tom Cartwright who was also at the show promoting his Camino Gin. After dropping out of uni Tom tackled the whole of The Camino de Santiago – no mean feat if you will forgive the pun. Along the way he was inspired by a forager who collected wayside herbs etc. and wrote a book based on his experience. Back in the UK and armed with that book, Tom decided to incorporate the flavours of the Camino into a gin recipe. Potent but fab. What’s more, now I can feel the Camino calling. Next summer perhaps?