Development & Alumni Relations Office 

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE AT QUEEN'S - VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK 2021  Hands coloured purple, green, blue and orange surrounding image of recruitment volunteers

05 June 2021

As we reach the final day of our week-long focus on volunteering at Queen’s during this 2021 Volunteers’ Week, we examine the important role our graduates play in the life of the University through student recruitment.

Queen’s alumni give back to their alma mater by sharing their experience and details of their career paths with prospective students and offer holders for degree pathways. This invaluable contribution from alumni adds credibility to our efforts so potential students can hear first-hand from graduates and make a decision to come to Queen’s. You can find out more about volunteering as an alumni here.

This week, across a broad range of volunteering areas, we have been concentrating on some of the many hundreds of graduates who, during the last 12 months, have given the gift of time in support of the University.

Today, we are look at those who support the University’s recruitment teams, giving their time to ensure that we attract the next generation of students from home and around the world.
“At this time of year, we usually welcome alumni volunteers to speak to rooms filled with offer holders, attend careers’ fairs and network with potential students and parents at home or around the globe,” said Natasha Sharma, the University’s Alumni Relations Volunteer Manager.

Over the last year, student recruitment activities looked a little different, in the face of a new and unprecedented situation amid COVID-19. Many events were postponed or removed from campus, including Law Pathways Opportunities Programme events for Year 13 and 14 students preparing for their A-Level exams.

Four generous alumni volunteer speakers, instead, attended a fantastic virtual session on 7 April 2020, which was broadcasted to 50 virtual attendees. We were delighted to welcome our alumni to our new virtual environment.

Alan Hunter, former Chief Executive of the Law Society NI, spoke to the students about his career journey, from his memories of Queen’s, to starting out in the field of law, right through to his involvement with the Law Society at the University. Alan inspired students by speaking about the combination of ‘determination, ambition, and opportunity’ in his own path, instilling fresh confidence in many future students.

Participants also heard from three recent Queen’s LLB graduates: Max Brankin, Emily McGleenon, and Courtney Doherty. All three had been involved as academic guides on the Law Pathway during their degree programme.

Feedback from these programmes is overwhelmingly positive:

“The career panels were extremely beneficial and inspiring. It gave me the opportunity to explore and learn about careers I had never once considered, for example, barristers, public prosecutors, and judges, and also taking further study into consideration”.

“Our guest speakers were fantastic. The insight to their different job roles reinforced the fact that a law degree can take you many places.”

Each panellist resonated with attendees in a unique way, and those who came to our session told us how valuable alumni volunteers are:

“The careers panel was by far my favourite guest speaker section. Hearing about how these people advanced through their career and how to get into different sections of law was interesting. Learning about setbacks they experienced, and the real negatives of the practise was important to hear, and I am glad we were given that opportunity. I enjoyed this section and feel as though I have definitely learned things which will help me in my future law career.”

Student offer holders for the incoming class of 2021 are not able to visit campus, meet academics and staff or attend an event in person; a challenge the University has never faced before. Getting information to these individuals and offering virtual events as quickly as possible was, and is, an important way of ensuring we can provide the best service to these potential students. Virtual offer holder events give these students a chance to connect with current students, academics, Queen’s staff and alumni before they join us in September 2021. Find out more about studying at Queen's.

One such offer holder event took place on Wednesday 3 June, when Sinead O'Sullivan, a BEng Aerospace Engineering graduate (2011) and MIT research fellow, told students about her own positive experience at Queen’s, both academically and socially, in her involvement with various clubs and societies. Sinead explained how her career journey unfolded and how Queen’s helped support her personal and professional development.

“Volunteering in this way makes me feel great, that I was able to help someone, and I have offered my support in other volunteering aspects too.”
Sinead, who is now working at MIT as a Senior Research Fellow at the Schwarzman College of Computing and is CEO of a high-growth behavioural science tech company, found the experience invigorating.

The University is grateful to volunteers such as Alan, Courtney, Max, Emily and Sinead, who are supporting Queen’s in these challenging times. Over the coming months, we will be calling on many of our loyal volunteers and new supporters to come forward as we make the transition to higher education as smooth as possible for incoming students.

From virtual events, to podcasts, Q&A sessions, and more, we will strive to equip students with the information they need to achieve their full potential and access higher education:

“The ‘Q&A’ sessions helped me affirm that Law is what I want to do. Hearing others’ stories makes me excited for what the future will bring for me at Queens, and beyond.”.


For further details on assisting at virtual student recruitment events or to volunteer in any other way to support the University, please contact Queen’s Alumni Volunteering Manager, Natasha Sharma.

For general enquiries about this story or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.



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