Ambassador Scheme Reflections: Connor Gilronan

Lead Ambassador, Outreach Tutor and Debating Tutor, Connor Gilronan, looks back on his time on the Ambassador Scheme as he gets ready to graduate from his BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations course.

I joined the Ambassador Scheme kind of by accident really! During my Welcome Week, I met a new stipend ambassador at the Venue, who invited me to a coffee morning to learn about the Scheme, and I got hooked! Originally, I decided to join to get some experience working in schools for teaching, however whilst I moved away from teaching, I still found I loved working with young people, and helping them to explore their own individual paths has been an amazing thing to be a part of.

There really are too many memories to choose from, but I’ve loved working with the ambassador team on the Succeed programme for the last three years. Unlike some of the work we do in schools, we work with the same group for six months and really get to know the students we’re mentoring. Whilst it’s interesting helping them explore university as an option, it’s also rewarding seeing them develop as people, getting to see their confidence grow through participation in activities. And this year, working with students from the 2019 cohort who have now become ambassadors themselves.

The interesting thing about the pandemic has been the opportunity to help develop content for outreach sessions. I’ve enjoyed working as part of the debate tutor team during the pandemic, to deliver virtual sessions during the pandemic. We’ve been able to help Fran and Shauna develop content for the debate club sessions, such as example videos of speeches, and weekly debate topic talks which we haven’t done in the past!

The scheme has definitely improved my confidence and brought me out of my comfort zone with presenting in front of people as an Outreach and Debating Tutor. Delivering talks on a weekly basis, and observing other ambassadors delivering has helped me work out my own style of delivery which I’m comfortable with.  This really has only been possible because of the supportive team of ambassadors and staff working on the scheme.

If you are unsure about putting yourself forward for a particular opportunity on the scheme, just go for it! Whether it’s going for an additional role or an unusual work opportunity, you’ll never know until you try it or where it might lead. The scheme is a great opportunity to try something new with a supportive team and develop skills you wouldn’t get to normally in any other student job.

What’s next? Strangely enough I’m going to change direction from my Politics degree and train as a paramedic. Similar to what we tell students, it’s ok to change career direction at any point even after your degree, so I think I’m going to follow that advice!