Past student talks about employability benefits

Benefits of Grand Challenges

Grand Challenges helps you to develop transferable skills, build towards the Exeter Award, is a great way to make friends with other like minded people, and it gives you the potential to make a difference.

Meeting new people

Many friendships are formed during Grand Challenges. As it is an interdisciplinary week, you will get the chance to meet people from across the University who share the same passions as you. Meeting all these new people develops your interpersonal skills, and contributes to the enjoyment you get from the week.

Making a difference

The amazing thing about Grand Challenges is what people can achieve in less than a week. In the past there have been multiple projects that have continued and had an impact after the week has ended. The challenges are global issues that need to be tackled, and Grand Challenges provides the platform for you to develop your ideas and make change happen. This unique opportunity, unlike anything else at University, allows you to have a real impact on the world around you.

Transferable skills development

Grand Challenges helps you to develop a wide range of transferable skills, which will increase your confidence, and enhance your employability prospects. You can develop skills through Grand Challenges skills training sessions, and during Grand Challenges week itself. These are the main skills that past students feel that they develop as part of Grand Challenges Week. 

Team working is an increasingly sought after skill and is much in demand in the world of graduate employment. It may also be relevant to your academic work and certainly if you take part in a club or society.

During Grand Challenges Week, you work on a project with a group of other students. You will learn to become more comfortable working with others in a team, become more confident working with unfamiliar people and in offering your opinion in a group setting. You will develop an awareness of the challenges that can be faced when working in a team, and work out how to negotiate these challenges. You will also develop a greater awareness of your own role as a team player.

Quotes from previous students

“I believe it really enabled me to see what being part of a team and working for a company could be like in the future.”

“I initially went in with the attitude that I would not enjoy working in a group, but as the week went on we all grew closer and our team work and group energy is what made this year’s grand challenges my favourite.”

"I managed to develop how I work in a group setting and was able to reflect on certain problems I face with working in a group but also feel more comfortable with speaking my mind on topics and balancing compromise with being convicted in my choices and beliefs."

Presentation skills are vital - you probably need them at University, you definitely need them in business and they are often used as part of the selection process in the graduate jobs market.

At the end of Grand Challenges Week, you will present your work to the other students, academics and externals. This provides you with an opportunity to develop your presentation skills in a safe environment where there are no potential for negative consequences.

Being exposed to the opportunity of presenting in front of a large audience is something that past students feel has helped them to feel more confident in their public speaking ability. Students who were nervous about this saw it as a positive and rewarding experience that helped to push them out of their comfort zone, and made them feel less worried about delivering presentations in future. 

Quotes from previous students

"I gained more confidence in my own capabilities and received more experience in public speaking through the presentation which was helpful."

"I feel that I have improved on presentation skills. Delivering our presentation in a lecture theatre was a scary but positive experience when it comes to public speaking."

Communication skills are important in all aspects of life: at University, at work, in your personal life, and everything in-between.

During Grand Challenges Week, you will develop your confidence in talking to new people and communicating your ideas, working with a group of students you haven’t met before and interacting with academics and other experts. In developing the content for your presentation, you will be exposed to having to succinctly communicate your ideas to others.

Past students say that they make friends during Grand Challenges Week, as they have the opportunity to meet new people who are passionate about the same things as them.

Quotes from previous students

"I think the main thing I achieved was the ability to work with other people and actually contribute to the project rather than take a back seat, and develop some sort of confidence in talking to people I didn't know which is something I have struggled with for a while."

"I contributed to discussion more than I expected, possibly because it was on a topic that I was really passionate about."

During University, most students tend to only work with students from within their discipline, who may all think in a similar way. Grand Challenges exposes you to students from other disciplines who bring different viewpoints and skillsets, which is more representative of the way that people collaborate in the workplace.

Quotes from previous students

"Grand Challenges unifies people from different disciplines and backgrounds who may have contrasting opinions on a variety of issues of the contemporary world. In terms of personal development, this enabled me to evaluate a particular issue from a number of different perspectives and improve social relations with other people." 

"Grand Challenges gave me the opportunity to work with other disciplines, which is something that I normally don't get to do. I have learnt the importance and effectiveness of working in an inter/multi-disciplinary group and the ways that we can communicate with each other, bring different ideas to the table and use our individual strengths for the team." 

You and your group have a limited amount of time to decide on an idea, plan, and research and produce your output. Because of this, Grand Challenges encourages you to work efficiently, manage your time well, and come up with ideas that are achievable within the timeframe of the week. 

Quotes from previous students

"I developed time management skills that are required when working on group projects in a short span of time."

"I also built upon my ability to work under strict time constraints and organising my time effectively if I wanted a successful outcome."

Students also feel that they develop skills in problem solving, innovative thinking, leadership, creativity, organisation, project planning, technical skills, academic skills and logical thinking.

Exeter Award

The Exeter Award is an employability achievement award for current undergraduate and taught postgraduate students. It is for both Exeter and Penryn students and is delivered in partnership with the Students' Guild and FXU.

Taking part in Grand Challenges Week counts towards the 'volunteering hours' for the Exeter Award. The Grand Challenges skills training sessions count as 'personal development' activities for the Exeter Award.

Student testimonials

Hannah Tate

"Participating in Grand Challenges helped me to secure a placement at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)"

Read more

Jess Wade

"I met so many amazing new people and we quickly became friends through working together"

Read more

Amelie Sievers

"Our work from Grand Challenges is leading to changes being made at the University"

Read more

Adina Pintille

"The skills I have taken away from Grand Challenges are at the top of my CV"

Read more

Melanie Mackay

"Grand Challenges helped me consolidate various skills and build my confidence"

Read more

Kristin Allan

"Grand Challenges put my skills to the test and enabled me to identify my own strengths and weaknesses"

Read more

Iona Brunker

"Since the week, our project has been involved with the launch of the Global Systems Institute here at the university"

Read more