With our Russell Group Webinars due to kick off in just under two weeks, we got the chance to speak to Sarah Booth. Sarah works at The University of Warwick (a member of the Russell Group) as Student Recruitment Manager.
I believe you are coming up to your 5 year anniversary of working at the University of Warwick. Do you have a favourite memory or achievement from your time at the University that you would like to share?
That’s a really difficult question; I really enjoy my job, and I love working at Warwick. Reflecting, all of my favourite memories involve people coming together. I enjoy working with our current students; they’re inspiring, bright, inquisitive and enthusiastic! We interview first year students for our Student Ambassador scheme, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch them grow during their time with us. They take advantage of numerous opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills; through experiences with their courses, volunteering, part-time jobs, students’ union and careers. It’s great to see them having conversations with prospective students, listening to them as they describe their time at Warwick. It’s clear that they have made the most of their time at University, and they’re inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. I’m especially proud of our Open Days. We work hard to promote Warwick to students across the UK and further afield. Our Open Days are huge events that attract around 10,000 visitors each, and involve almost every team within the University. At an Open Day our amazing students and academic colleagues are the stars, but seeing the whole University community come together with the common goal of inspiring the next cohort of Warwick students is a great feeling. A student once said to me, ‘You did a presentation at my school and so I went to an Open Day. Now here I am studying at Warwick and applying to be a Student Ambassador’!
You have previously worked at non-Russell group institutions, what would you say the difference is between an institution within the group and one that is not?
Yes, I’ve worked at two Russell Group universities and two non-Russell Group universities, so have had experiences of both. All universities are individual organisations with their own characters and strengths. At Warwick, we have an exceptional research community which informs our teaching allowing our students to learn from, and with, world-leading experts. They have opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research that has a real impact on the world we live in. I’d always encourage students to think about why they want to go to University and what they want to achieve from their time there. Reflecting on their motivations can help guide their University research and help identify the best University and course for them.
Is there something in particular you would like to change within the industry when it comes to student recruitment?
It’s a great industry to work in. There is a collaborative culture which sees University representatives coming together with the common goal of supporting young people make informed decisions about higher education. I’ve worked in HE for over 16 years and seen huge progress in access, diversity and inclusion, however I still hear students say ‘University is not for people like me’ so there is clearly more work to do in this space. I see working in student recruitment as a privilege; we have this opportunity to encourage and inspire young people to achieve to their fullest potential.
Was there a revelation you found later on in your career in regards to best practice or your personal approach to work?
Absolutely! I learnt it’s important to be mindful of your work-life balance. Taking a pause every now and again, and looking at the bigger picture is vital. Giving yourself time to relax and recharge enables you to think creatively, approach projects with more clarity and be the best version of yourself.
Is there someone in the industry who you look up to?
There are lots of people! Far too many to list here. I’ve been fortunate to have had incredible line managers in my career, and I’ve worked alongside enthusiastic, engaged and inspiring professionals both within universities and within the organisations we partner with. Many of whom continue to work in the Student Recruitment industry, and many who have become great friends outside of work too!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
If you love what you do, it will never feel like work. I love this advice, and I think it rings true in my professional life, but I also share this advice with students; if you choose to study something you enjoy and have a real interest in, you’ll enjoy learning and have a great time at University. You’ll likely end up in a career you love too.
At UK University search we are running a series of webinars with the Russell Group, is there any kind of research or preparation you would advise students to take before attending a particular session?
You’ll have the opportunity to hear from students and staff members from many Russell Group universities. Try to do a little research on University websites first to avoid asking questions that are easily answered. You’ll be able to use this time with the experts more effectively. If you’re not sure what to ask, don’t worry – there'll be plenty of other people asking questions, so just come along and listen.
Finally, what was your University experience like?
Amazing! I loved it! I was fascinated by language and communication, and loved studying Linguistics (my subject) which is all about the science of language; how they work, how they are learned and used, and what happens when something goes wrong with language. I met a fantastic group of people who are still some of my closest friends today. Finally, it gave me the opportunity to discover my career, which I love.
To sign up to our Webinars follow the link here:
ONCE YOU HAVE REGISTERED YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TO SELECT THE WEBINAR/S YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN BY CLICKING ON THE ZOOM LINK/S.
The schedule is as follows:
Day 1 - Tuesday 25th April:
An Introduction to the Russell Group and why choose to Study there? 12pm to 1:30pm.
Led by: University of York, University of Glasgow, University College London, University of Sheffield, King's College London and University of Leeds.
Student life at 4:30pm - 6pm.
Led by: Newcastle University, London School of Economics & Political Science, Durham University, University of Exeter & University of Bristol.
Day 2 - Wednesday 26th April
The International Students Session - 9am to 10:30am
Led by: University of York, University of Glasgow, Newcastle University, Cardiff University, University of Liverpool & University College London
Day 3 -Thursday 27th April
Researching University Options - 12pm to 1:30pm.
Led by: University of Cambridge, University of Warwick, Cardiff University, University of Southampton, Queen Mary University of London & University of Edinburgh.
Personal Statements and Applying to a Russell Group University - 4:30pm to 6pm
Led by: University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of Liverpool, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Manchester & University of Birmingham