Case study

Science engagement officer — Adam Sharp

Find out how Adam uses the soft skills gained during his undergraduate degree in his role as a science engagement officer at a busy university

How did you get your job?

After graduating from Staffordshire University with a degree in Computer Gameplay Design and Production, I got my job by working for Unitemps, the university's in-house recruitment consultancy specialising in part-time and temporary work for students and graduates.

The careers centre helped me to improve my CV and also helped with writing cover letters. I got a job working for the university through them.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Although my degree isn't particularly relevant, the soft skills that I developed, such as poster creation, the use of Microsoft Office, presentation skills and communication skills, are certainly useful.

What are your main work activities?

The project that I'm involved in is a pilot programme, which seeks to increase the number of students engaging in final-year projects that aim to solve real-world challenges alongside a business or organisation.

My job involves researching areas of industry that the university already has relationships with and identifying which student projects fit the needs of these industry contacts. The role is often in flux, making it more enjoyable as I have new challenges each week. Initially, I spent a lot of time being introduced to staff and now I hold meetings with staff to sell the project to them.

I look over my emails in the morning and then check my schedule and that of my line managers to try and arrange time to catch up. I review my sent emails to see how long I've waited for responses and then follow up with people who have not replied.

Other tasks include accepting meeting requests or setting up new meetings with stakeholders, booking rooms, preparing agendas and attending meetings. I'm also involved in preparing information for publishing online, designing proofs of poster designs, finding good stock photos for prepared documents, composing blog posts and preparing project plans.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I like the variation in my tasks as they challenge me in unique ways and discovering how the university works from an internal perspective is interesting. My boss is also very supportive.

I'm trusted to work from home and I am given the opportunity to work flexible hours, which is fantastic.

I get to work with lots of intelligent people who teach me a great deal. I also get to experience different styles of management and meet a lot of friendly academics, which has allowed me to build a contact base on LinkedIn.

What are the most challenging parts?

I have fewer responsibilities than permanent staff, meaning it can often take time for people to reply to emails with information that I need to take the project forward. My role is very dependent on the information that I require, meaning I can't always move forward as quickly as I would like.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I want to become a teacher. I enjoy offering my knowledge to people and approaching challenges in different ways, so I think I will take well to teaching.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Use job agencies when you graduate as short-term contracts can offer a financial boost and the chance to add value to your CV. Apply for jobs in sectors outside your usual comfort zone to get experience and learn new skills in areas you otherwise might not have thought about.

Keep a work diary to record the tasks you complete, looking back you'll be surprised at all the skills you've gained.