"Staff across the University really valued my opinions and ideas as a student": William Howlett, Student Connector
By: Polly Wallace-Kruger
Last updated: Friday, 4 December 2020
The Connector Programme is a way for students at Sussex to inspire and actively make change at the University, developing leadership, teamwork and communication skills – and getting paid at the same time.
Student Connectors work with their Connector team, the wider student community and staff to find strategies and implement ideas that will enhance student life in different ways. The aim is for Sussex to better represent students and provide what they really want and need at university.
The only meaningful way to do this is for students to inspire decision-making. Across the University, the work of Student Connectors, through “co-creation”, will make positive change while creating a more connected community at Sussex.
Meet William Howlett, a Sociology & Criminology student and Lead Welcome Connector. In this interview, William describes what it was like working as a Connector in the lead-up to Welcome Week, the highlights of co-creating with staff, the valuable skills developed through the role, and the extra opportunities which made him feel a part of the Connector community.
Connector Programme: Tell us about working as a Connector – what did your project focus on? What activities did you do in your role?
William Howlett: I worked as a Lead Welcome Connector and I was responsible for the creation of Welcome Week. The other Connectors and I carried out several projects, which included creating video content, planning events and working on online content. Our focus for this role was to make the transition to university for new students as engaging and informative as possible.
CP: What is it like to work with staff as a Connector?
WH: Working with staff for me was one of the highlights of my time as a Connector. Members of staff from across the University really valued my opinions and ideas as a student. Being able to work with different departments allows you to speak with different people and provides you with great experience. You can learn so much about the working environment from staff, and they learn lots from you simply because you have the experience of being a student at Sussex.
“Members of staff from across the University really valued my opinions and ideas as a student”
CP: What does co-creation mean to you?
WH: Co-creation to me means a mutual benefit for both the students and the staff at the University. The Connector Programme provides students with valuable work experience, a paid job and the opportunity to be a part of contributing to the University. Equally, the programme provides staff with students to support and contribute ideas, which provides a new voice to shape future projects. Co-creation definitely provides a mutual benefit, with all parties working towards making Sussex a better place.
“Co-creation definitely provides a mutual benefit, with all parties working towards making Sussex a better place”
CP: What skills have you developed whilst working as a Student Connector, and why is this important to you?
WH: Being a Student Connector allows you to be creative and work as part of a team and individually. You also get the experience of working with various staff members who have lots of experience in their fields and can provide valuable insight. It’s a brilliant job for providing experience and skills for your CV. Any career or job you wish to move into in the future, the Connector role can provide experience and skills to take with you.
I had the opportunity to lead a team and work on my leadership skills; this is a key skill I have never had the opportunity to exercise before. I was also able to work on various online tasks and work on various IT skills that I previously did not have. This was valuable experience and a skill that I was able to develop a lot in this role. The skills that you learn as a Connector are so valuable and I did not expect to get as much out of this job regarding skills as I did.
"Any career or job you wish to move into in the future, the Connector role is able to provide experience and skills to take with you"
CP: Can you describe one moment you felt part of the Connector Community?
WH: I had various opportunities to feel part of the Connector community. I attended various meetings with the Connector committee, in which I was able to meet other members of the Connector Programme and hear about other projects that were happening. I also went to several Connector social events, for example a lunch in which I was able to meet other Connectors, and an online quiz in which I was able to work as part of a team of different Connectors.
CP: What is one word that describes the Connector Programme?
WH: One word I would use to describe the Connector Programme is 'rewarding'. I found the experience of working as a Lead Welcome Connector to be very rewarding. The role enabled me to develop skills and learn ones that I previously did not have, meet new people and gain experience I previously did not have. You also get to contribute to making the University more tailored to the student voice. Therefore, it is not only personally rewarding, but the work you are contributing towards is very rewarding as well.
The Connector Programme: how students and staff make positive change together.
If you have a question about the Connector Programme or would like to get involved, email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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