Faculty Challenge: a student's perspective

Achieve More LogoBy Evelyn Mantoiu, 1st year International Relations and Politics student

This year was a special year for the students of the Faculty of Social Science; they took part in a mandatory programme called "The State of Sheffield", which was part of the Achieve More scheme and ran between 2nd and 6th February.

"State of Sheffield" got off to a bad start. Most of the students had little interest in participating. From the comments on Twitter, to laughing about the prize mugs, there were many mixed feelings. One of the reasons for this was the way the schedule initially appeared; starting at 9 and ending at 5 every day, State of Sheffield seemed to lack any amount of flexibility.

But was it really like that? In reality, it turned up to be a very relaxed experience, with lots of flexibility. You and your team could decide on an hour to meet, and that was when you worked. You had to be in your base room each day, but you could decide the time and how long the meeting was supposed to take.

My experience with Faculty Challenge was a positive one. It started with choosing the kind of projects I would be interested in researching, making sure that the five options were something I was keen on finding more about. The next step was to discuss them with the members of the group and see if, as a team, we could come up with a set of projects that we would like to research. We were lucky enough to get our first choice of project, and this had a huge impact on how I perceived the whole week. I decided to be positive about it, and make the most of the opportunity.

There were quite a few interesting talks to go and see, and a number of workshops that could be potentially useful in the future. I went to some of these and I think that I benefited from the exchange of information. Things like editing videos or designing posters were not really on my "skills bucket list", but being knowledgeable about these things is always a plus. Who knows when I will have to use them the future.

The fun part of the week was doing the artifact. I found the concept really confusing at first, as when you look up the word "artifact" it is usually described as “an object made by man with cultural or historical significance”. The question I think most of the students had was “what exactly is an artifact, in this particular case?" It turned out that it could be anything, from a poster or a sculpture to a really awesome app - there were so many good artifacts at the exhibition in the Arts Tower that it was difficult to say which was best. I personally enjoyed making the artifact. It was fun seeing what you could make in such a sort amount of time, and fun to make something that was informative, creative and engaging for the audience. It was really a team effort, with everyone putting something into it and the final product turned out great. You can view my team's finished artifact on Youtube

What I learnt this week was how being positive is the best way to deal with things. Although I have been part of projects in the past that were designed to improve teamwork, time management and other skills (this is hardly a new idea, after all), the set-up or State of Sheffield was new to me and working with my classmates to produce the artifact turned out to be really enjoyable.