The Sheffield Professional in Practice - Jennie Stevens

Jennie Stevens

Substantive post and secondment roles

PA and Office Coordinator (Grade 5) in the International Office in Student Recruitment and Admissions (SRA).

For 11 months I did a secondment in a Grade 6 role as PA and Office Manager in Outreach & Widening Participation, within Student Recruitment and Admissions.

I have just started a second secondment also at Grade 6 for 6 months as an Admissions Officer in the Admissions Service.

Why a secondment?

I jumped at the chance to apply for a secondment as Office Manager in Outreach & Widening Participation as it provided the opportunity for me to gain new skills and experience within a bigger team in a different department, and also to prove my competence in working at a higher grade.

After 11 months on secondment, an opening became available for me to continue in SRA, but within the Admissions Service. This was a perfect opportunity to put my skills to use in a more specialised role.

How easy was it to move between Professional Services departments?

The Sheffield Professional Framework is consistent across roles, teams and departments, which generally means that moving between departments is a straightforward process. Of course I still needed to get used to a new department and team and experience new processes and protocols. But change is a good thing and I saw this as a learning experience which has helped me grow professionally and personally.

How different is your typical working day in your seconded roles from your substantive role?
My Office Manager role was quite finance-intense, whereas the secondment in Outreach provided more opportunities to get involved in staff recruitment and project support. In both roles no two days would be the same due to the breadth and scope of activity.

I am currently working on specific projects in far more detail, and it has been interesting seeing how the work of the recruitment teams I have previously supported come to fruition in the form of applications to the University. It’s like putting together pieces of a bigger picture, which is, in my opinion, one of the overwhelming benefits of a secondment.

What new skills have you developed so far?

My current role has necessitated a focus on my written communication skills, as it involves corresponding with applicants, parents and teachers on matters of a sensitive nature. Also, in addition to the e-Recruitment system for staff, I have learnt to use many of the student recruitment-based university systems as well as taking part in a pilot for the new myJobshop system for University Casual Student Workers. Both my secondments have provided opportunities to apply my current skills to new areas of work, therefore strengthening and enhancing my existing skills, as well as growing my knowledge and confidence.

Both my secondments have provided opportunities to apply my current skills to new areas of work, therefore strengthening and enhancing my existing skills, as well as growing my knowledge and confidence.

Do you anticipate bringing new ideas/skills back to your substantive role?

I will share best practice with colleagues to use what I’ve learnt while on secondment and will be better able to inform my team about the full range of recruitment and admissions activity which the department undertakes.

Finally – how would you encourage others to consider a secondment?

I would certainly encourage colleagues to take a secondment. Not only have I gained many new skills and experiences, but I’ve proved my competency working at a higher grade and built confidence in my abilities as a consequence. I have created networks of key contacts, met new people and feel part of the larger University community. Secondments are a great opportunity for filling gaps in skills and getting a much better understanding of how the University works as whole to deliver its strategic vision.