200 Hours of Outreach Work: What I Have Learnt

Stipend Ambassador, Henry Luck, shares his experience of completing 200 hours of work opportunities in his second year of study

I’m still in my 2nd year, but I’ve managed to reach my 200-hour stipend target! As I managed to achieve this goal from before and during COVID-19, I’ve witnessed first-hand how the Ambassador landscape will be shifted from here on out and would like to share some of my tips and experiences to allow you to get the most out of the scheme.

Looking back at the activities I attended, I found out that I mostly participated in those that revolved around preparing for post-16 education, ‘building a student’ and developing confidence in the classroom. I remember being especially involved in these because I was given the opportunity to discuss how I got into the stipend scheme and how I coped with social anxieties whilst being on the autistic spectrum. These also gave me the opportunity to develop my own communication, reflection and teamwork skills as I assisted in group tasks with the students. If you think you have something unique to bring to the table at an outreach activity, trust your heart and go for it!

Being on the stipend scheme, specifically going into the lockdown phase, has made a world of difference in my virtual presenting skills. When we first started making videos of ourselves talking about our experiences in education, for example, I was in the habit of reading my script word for word, which, in hindsight made my speech feel robotic and unnatural. When I compared my videos to more experienced Ambassadors, I learnt about how they only use the script for hints and treated the videos as if they were in conversation with someone, always making eye contact with the camera and moving their arms to emphasise a point if needed. After I started following their examples, I can say that my next videos were a massive improvement, and I had a lot more fun doing them and even adding some improvisation to them from time to time!

Being on the autistic spectrum, one of the quirks that I have developed is that if you need to check something on a regular basis, you need to make it a habit. For me, this involves checking the Heat Portal once a day between 9-10am and helps to make me feel in control of my work. Taking time to read the job description is also another important skill to have because there may be times where you need to be at or stay after an activity for a brief/de-brief.

Once you hit that 200-hour milestone, please make it a priority to reward yourself. Whether it be through treating yourself to a takeaway, having extra you time or arranging a film night with your family or friends, do whatever makes you happy because you deserve it, especially if you’ve made it through a pandemic like I have!