Participant StoriesGLOSSpeople

GLOSS gives students in the Social Sciences a unique opportunity to put their academic skills into practice by participating in major international conferences and summits through the Global Leadership Initiative

By participating in the GLOSS Research Associate Scheme you will have the opportunity to conduct real-life international research working in partnership with academic staff. 

SIDshare enables all students to engage in a student-run social enterprise involved in international development.

Below you find the stories of previous participants who have been to summits such as the G20 and Habitat III.

 

G20 - Guangzhou, China

Eleni

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?

I study BSc Geography, and spent my second year studying Earth Sciences at ANU. This background in science was really beneficial for focusing on climate change at the summit because it meant I could offer a more specialised perspective. Having the necessary background knowledge as regards global warming and existing treaties meant that I could properly evaluate the decisions reached by the G20, which would have been much more difficult to do if I didn’t have a firm grasp of the science and rationale behind tackling global warming.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?

Giving a lot of interviews at the summit definitely helped me develop my skills there. Writing the policy brief also helped me develop my academic writing skills in a style I wasn’t so used to- it was really interesting to do a piece of writing that was a little bit more subjective and where the evidence we were using (e.g. the end communiqué) was much more open to interpretation. This will all certainly help me in the future as I desire an academic career e.g. interview skills will be good for postgraduate applications.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?

Getting to see press conferences by Ban Ki-moon, Xi Jinping and Recep Tayyip Erdogan were really amazing. Just being in the media centre in the middle of all the activity and being privy to the first release of information was a really fantastic experience- so the main highlight in a nutshell was having access to the media centre. I also really loved getting to spend time with other passionate, hard-working students and the academics on the trip, and getting the chance to co-author blogs with them. Visiting China was a brilliant cultural experience in itself.

If you had to pick the most significant thing you had learnt (about yourself, your subject, team work etc) during the summit what would it be?

The most significant thing I learned, or have gained a much better appreciation of, was just how difficult it must be to reach global consensus on any subject given how different each countr’ys national priorities are. For example, Erdogan’s conference was really eye-opening because of the recent Turkish coup attempt, the massive influx of refugees and threat of ISIS, it was clear how difficult it must be to get countries to engage with issues that seem more long-term and of which the effects might not be as visible in the short term (e.g. climate change).

What is your overall opinion about the Global Leadership Initiative and GLOSS in general?

I think the GLI and GLOSS are absolutely great. The fact we got to have this experience, fully funded, is just absolutely amazing. It's a great thing that the University of Sheffield does and there are so many conference that students could be sent to. In addition, the opportunity to then be published in an online academic journal is a real boost to anyone looking for an academic career, so I was so grateful for that. It was a fantastic experience and taught me so much, and GLOSS were so great at retweeting and sharing our social media posts and supporting us, that I felt really satisfied with how it had all been run. Thanks a lot.

G7 - Hamburg, Germany

Dale Riahi - International Business Management with study Abroad

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?
I explored the business aspects of politics into the G7 blogs. Particularly, I looked at gender diversity in businesses and politics within the G7.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?
Time management, consistency, and an ability to see things from another perspective are what I have taken away from this summit. In only a few days I learned so much and cannot put into words how much this has assisted me in the future.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?
Very difficult to decide. I loved every second of the experience. The fact I attended a G7 summit is a highlight on its own. Being amongst such important leaders, academia, journalists, etc. etc. was an incredible experience.

How do you think the GLI experience has aided your personal and professional development?
Indescribable. The University of Sheffield is truly fortunate to have a department that provides such an experience. This will make my CV stand out, and so will the skills i developed on the trip.

What support did you receive from the academic(s) leading the trip?
Anything I needed assistance with Mr Dobson or Dr Brown were there. Could not have wished for better academic support. Simply excellent.

Habitat III - Quito, Ecuador

Cara

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?

I am studying an MA in Cities and Global Development. Much of my coursework is focused on understanding and addressing developmental challenges in cities of the Global South. This related directly to the conference focus and sessions.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?

I learnt how to turn over writing in a short space of time and I was able to practice my networking skills. Both of these will be useful in my career as will writing on issues related to urban development which I did through producing the blogs and policy brief.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?

I gained a huge amount of insight into development work that is happening in cities around the world, especially in my home city which I was not aware of before. It was also my first time visiting Ecuador and the travel element of the experience was thoroughly enjoyable.

What support did you receive from the academic(s) leading the trip?

The academics leading the trip were extremely helpful and supportive. They provided logistical support by getting us full accreditation for the conference, getting us registered and supporting us in getting the most out of the conference. They also provided extensive support in our social media and writing outputs.

What is your overall opinion about the Global Leadership Initiative and GLOSS in general?

They are wonderful initiatives which provide students with incredibly valuable opportunities. They are both massive assets to the University of Sheffield which go a long way in making it a world class institution.

Lydia Darby

Lydia

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?

I had good background knowledge in conflict resolution and international development which I applied in my blogs. I also had good written and communication skills which were useful when writing the blogs and policy brief.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?

Networking and confidently asking questions in large public discussions is skills I further developed. Also further developed my skills of blogging. These skills will all be useful in my future academic career.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?

Brilliant experience exploring the city before the the start of the conference. Also meeting lots of influential people at the conference and observing the dialogue between people at the conference were definite highlights.

How do you think the GLI experience has aided your personal and professional development?

I think it has been really beneficial to my professional development especially. This experience will stand out on my CV and help in getting job opportunities. I've made contacts and have learnt much more in the field of contemporary international development. It's helped me focus my ambition for future careers and I now know the route I'd like to go down. I'm also more confident in my own skills.

What other GLOSS opportunities have you participated in?

I've been a programmes officer for SIDshare for the last year of my undergraduate degree. I was working to establish, maintain and monitor relationships with our partner organisations in international development. One project I have been managing has been in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders to design, build and install a compost toilet for one of my partners, Kids Club Kampala in Uganda.

What is your overall opinion about the Global Leadership Initiative and GLOSS in general?

Really great part, if not the best, of having come to Sheffield University and has made me really really glad I came. It's brilliant that they offer an opportunities this good to students, especially as no other Universities offer the same thing!

Rowan Riley

Rowan Riley - Architecture

Rowan

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?

As an architecture student I was able to use my knowledge of specific, tangible outcomes of the policies being discussed to further the depth of conversation within interviews. For instance, I used the knowledge that I had gained through having previously explored a design project that focused on housing to further explore this area of interest within the summit.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?

I developed networking and communication skills through talking with people at events as well as through interviews that I had arranged. The process of meeting with people in a professional manner and arranging the interviews also developed my confidence to apply myself in this situation.
Having to attend a number of events over a short period of time and translating this depth of information into the blog developed my listening and analytical skills. This will aid my studies within an academic environment. It will also be useful in my future career where, within a junior position there will inevitably be many situations where I am having to translate a lot of new information.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?

Being able to meet and interview people within global organisations that work within an area that offers the chance of a future career. Also, gaining a completely different perspective on a subject that I had little understanding of outside a UK context.

How do you think the GLI experience has aided your personal and professional development?

It has provided me with contacts and specific interests that could translate into a future career. Not only have I have gained a huge amount of personal and professional confidence within my subject and specific area of interest; the outputs that I have published along with the experience demonstrate this and will improved my employability.

If you had to pick the most significant thing you had learnt (about yourself, your subject, team work etc) during the summit what would it be?

I learnt the importance of a global perspective (which I thought I already knew). This was through meeting and interviewing organisation such as the Building and Social Housing Foundation and UrbaMonde. Both of which I am interested in working for in the future and the conversations I had with them has ignited an interest in 'community-led housing', an area of architecture that I hope to explore further in the final year of my studies.

What support did you receive from the academic(s) leading the trip?

A lot! Before leaving they provided us with information about the event and improved skills in blog writing and policy briefs. Whilst there but before the summit they worked with us individually to focus the events we attended in relation to our area of interest. During the summit they provided us with contacts of people they knew that we could meet with to interview/network. For each piece of writing they helped shape our focus and edit what we had written. Above all they were friendly, respectful, enthusiastic and great company.

What is your overall opinion about the Global Leadership Initiative and GLOSS in general?

It is an invaluable opportunity that all students should be able to experience and so I count myself very lucky. It demonstrates an approach to education that should be practiced across all areas of teaching within the UK and across the world.

Simeon Shtebunaev

Simeon

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?

It will be incredibly useful for my dissertation. Seeing the debate on such a level has given me ideas about the topic and direction of my master's dissertation and thesis. It has also been very valuable in expanding my knowledge of organisations and terminology in the field.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?

Writing quickly and snappy blogs, researching for policy briefs is definitely a skill I have further developed. Networking was definitely a good skill to practice at the conference - understanding how those events work is crucial for future development in my opinion.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?

Potentially when I had to stand up in a room full of experts and challenge some of the discussion that was happening at the stage. Also the ability to talk to so many interesting people from different professions.

If you had to pick the most significant thing you had learnt (about yourself, your subject, team work etc) during the summit what would it be?

That would be the fact that even at such a big conference the issues at hand were the same we discuss in the classroom. This gave me a very good push to appreciate the level of discourse in Sheffield and reasserted my beliefs that what I am doing at university has a practical application.

What is your overall opinion about the Global Leadership Initiative and GLOSS in general?

It is an amazing scheme and amazing opportunity to have been part of. It was incredibly beneficial for me but I think what was even more impressive was the fact that eight students from the University were representing it at such a conference. This was more members than some delegations or professional envoys. There was an incredible amazement when we mentioned where we are from and that we have been put at 'accredited stakeholders' status. It allowed us to cover so much in such a short time that by day four I met people that knew about Sheffield because they have met someone else. Considering that there were very few other students and almost no students that actually were taking a Policy Analyst role, this was such an incredible feeling.

ILO 329th GB Meeting - Geneva, Switzerland

Ciara

How did you apply your degree course to the work you engaged in at the summit?

I was able to use what I was taught in my degree about policies and policymaking to help my production of the policy brief. My knowledge of policymaking also helped me understand the format of the GB meeting and the process through which policy decisions were made at the summit. My knowledge of global affairs and international relations also helped me understand the tensions between different understandings and points of view, and also the complexity of the issues being addressed at the summit.

What transferable skills did you acquire or develop during the summit, and how will they aid you in the future?

I developed the ability to process detailed information about a variety of important topics and re-create the information in a clear and concise manner through the blog and policy brief. I now know that I am able to decipher the main points of arguments, and produce adequate outlines and summaries directed at the target audience.

What were the highlights of the summit experience for you?

The highlight of the experience for me was being able to sit in and watch the GB meeting. Attending an international political event like that was very exciting and it gave me a much better understanding of what exactly goes on in such a meeting. For instance, how it is structured, the order of action, and other practicalities that end in such important decisions being made that impact so many lives around the world.

How do you think the GLI experience has aided your personal and professional development?

The experience has certainly aided my personal and professional development. Personal, in the sense that it has vastly increased my knowledge and understanding of such events and summits, allowed me to recognise where my interests lie and helped to consolidate the direction of work I wish to follow in the future. Professional, in the sense that it was the perfect experience to enhance my CV and show future employers that I have experience in my field of interest that many other students will not have the opportunity to experience.

What support did you receive from the academic(s) leading the trip?

We received training prior to the trip in policy making and social media use. During the trip, the Professor fully briefed us every day about the daily plan and events, he set up many interesting meetings with delegates for us on short notice, he was always present during meetings and most other events to provide support, and was contactable at all times if we needed any help with anything. After the trip, he provided a great deal of advice about our blogs and briefs to help improve them.

What is your overall opinion about the Global Leadership Initiative and GLOSS in general?

I think the GLI is simply a fantastic opportunity for students - it is one of a kind, and an invaluable experience for someone like me in the direction I am going for my working life. The GLI experience, along with all of the other opportunities it provides, makes GLOSS a huge asset to Social Science students in Sheffield. We are incredibly lucky to have such opportunities readily available to us.

Research Associate, Geneva - Switzerland 

Kaylee_RAHow did you find out about the GLOSS RA scheme?

I had first heard about it in a lecture during my second year of study. I had been in one of Darrel A. Swift’s lectures when he had mentioned the possibility of going abroad to help with some research. I became really excited with the idea of this and so I went to speak with Darrel straight away after the lecture to make my interest known. We then sat and discussed several types of funding available, as well as the different opportunities (SURE) before settling to apply for the GLOSS RA scheme.

What was your project? Where did you do it?

Darrel A. Swift is a glaciologist and currently conducts alot of his research at glaciers with overdeepened beds (where there is a large basin in a hard glacier bed). This is because it is thought that overdeepened beds influence factors such as; water drainage system type, flow, speed as well as ice behaviours such as flow and structure.
During the GLOSS RA scheme we flew out to Geneva, Switzerland where we hired a car to travel between two different Glaciers, both of which had overdeepened beds.  

What was it like working with academic researchers on a ‘real’ project?
It was brilliant! I felt important and knowledgeable no matter how many questions I asked whilst I was there. I was able to help set up GCPs for the UAV flights, allowing me to gain invaluable information on how best to conduct areal surveys of areas.

What advice would you give to students who are thinking about getting involved with ‘real’ research assistant work like this and SURE?

Do your research. I originally looked at applying for SURE, however I felt that GLOSS RA suited me better as I was able to get out and physically collect data with academic staff.

Always make your interest known to the appropriate members of staff. I went straight to my academic tutor about taking part in GLOSS RA or SURE, however do not be scared to approach any members of staff whos’ research field is relevant to your area of interest.

Show staff that you are willing to go ‘up and beyond’ what is expected of you. For a student to apply for GLOSS RA or SURE they must have an academic member of staff to apply with them, however it is important to remember that staff can only chose one student to apply with. This means that they want to know that that student is going to work hard and is serious about the application process.

I have taken some amazing memories away with me, from the beautiful landscapes I have seen, to riding in the back of a truck with views of the Matterhorn, to the challenging moraines I didn’t think I’d be able to climb, but accomplished. This trip taught me about myself just as much as it did the natural environment.