This new event took place virtually on the 27 of May. Sponsored by Santander, it was created to celebrate the success of 4th years and prepare them for their next steps after graduation.

Students volunteered to present their dissertation to an audience of academics, students, friends, and family members; Ahead of the event, they participated in a workshop to learn how to stand out in the job market by presenting their achievements.

The Degree Show aimed to highlight the hard work of resilient students who have managed to produce inspiring dissertations amid a world-wide pandemic, because that is worth celebrating!

Here are six highlights of an eventful day:

1. Channel your inner goose

Gavin Oattes, managing director of Tree of Knowledge, award-winning comedian, best-selling author, and former Young Entrepreneur of the Year, told students to channel their inner goose.

"See, if a goose falls ill", explained Gavin, "two geese will always drop out of that formation and follow it all the way down to the ground to protect it. And they will stay with it until it’s well enough to catch up with the flock again."

Similarly, when they fly in formation and the leading goose begins to tire, another takes over. Geese are all about support and community — and so should we.

The lesson — channel your inner goose, and support your friends, peers, colleagues, or even the stranger you pass by in the street: if we encourage one another, not only do we achieve more, we also have more fun.

2. Cover less bread

Gavin Oattes, the king of metaphors also reflected on our tendency, especially over the past year, to give out more energy than we have.

"One nob of butter cannot cover a whole loaf", he explained, and many of us have been trying to cover entire bakeries. As a result, we have ended up anxious and tired. But is this really who we want to be?

Gavin's solution is we need to do less and be more. Graduates entering the job world should remember that they can say no, choose their battles, and instigate boundaries. Life is also about fun and finding the right balance.

3. Have a realistic plan

Participants also heard from Alice Thompson, who in only 10 years has built Social Bite from the ground up, organised events with thousands of attendees, spoken at over 150 business events (including a TEDx talk!), and gathered support from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.

Alice wanted to reassure graduates: while it can be intimidating to leave the comforts of education, what people do not tell you is that the job world is all made up!

Everyone is pretending they are following a well-thought out plan, but most of them are lying. In reality, it is one step after the other.

Alice’s advice for graduates was to establish a 5-year plan but break it down into realistic 6-months steps.

4. Valuable career insights

Shelagh Green, Director for Careers and Employability and past President of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, presented insights into the job world, and here are her key take-aways:

  • The graduate job market was impacted less than other sectors by Covid, and the same number of jobs are being advertised now compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
  • In a world of increasing automation, graduates will need more thinking skills (like problem solving or creativity), digital and data knowledge, self-management skills, and uniquely human mindsets (like resilience and adaptability).
  • Current graduates lack commercial awareness, adaptability, analytical skills, practical know-how, and skills relating to the recruitment process. Students should work on those to stand out.

Shelagh encouraged graduates to use this year to their advantage: what have you learned about yourself in the past year, and how can you express that in career terms?

5. Creative student presentations

Participants were free to choose their presentation style, and there were some interesting original formats:

  • Sara Ketovuori and Polly Hubble held a knowledge forum
  • Sidney Franks presented her research as a film festival
  • Yingfang Shen hooked her audience with a poetry slam
  • Daria Selivanova and Jason Gallagher offered 3rd Years invaluable insights with their dissertation process presentations

We also heard about a wide range of fields:

  • Joré Dirgélaité taught us the impact of gender and age on personal branding
  • Lorna Hyde told us about manufacturing relocation decisions
  • Alana Dunsmore gave us insights into e-word-of-mouth and Gen Z
  • Emma Archondakis explored the impact of the Fringe on locals

Students also shared some surprising results, like Yat Shun (John) Leung who uncovered that Hong Kong students prefer physical to digital travel cards, and Cecilia Bosman who, while attempting to demonstrate the positive economic impact of women on corporate boards, ended up questioning our relationship to statistics entirely.

These presentations went from one style to another, jumped from an area to an entirely different one, and they were all interesting. We were inspired, surprised, and hooked.

6. The winners

The winners from the Undergraduate Degree Show 2021 were:

  • Sara Ketovuori
  • Polly Hubble
  • Daria Selivanova
  • Sydney Franks
  • Lorna Hyde
  • Cecilia Bosman

They have all won six coaching sessions with the inspiring Alice Thompson.

If you are looking to take part in the future, here is what turned presenters into winners:

  • Relaxed and confident delivery
  • Good responses to the audience questions
  • Creativity in the presentation style
  • Critical stance on your method and results
  • Thought-provoking and powerful message

See you next year for the Undergraduate Degree Show 2022!