Nottingham Consultancy Challenge
Nottingham Consultancy Challenge
Our offer for spring 2022 gives you the chance to gain hands-on experience of virtually managing a short-term project for a local business or charity, as part of a team. The next Challenge will run from Monday 14 February to Friday 25 March 2022.
As a participant on the Consultancy Challenge, you will:
- Join a small, multidisciplinary group of students working with a real-life ‘client’
- Problem-solve and research your client’s project, randomly assigned to challenge your skills.
- Use and enhance your virtual collaborative working skills, highly valued in today’s global economy.
- Deliver a virtual group presentation and written report to your client and receive feedback from them on how well you met their brief.
Your next steps
Applications for the 2022 Challenge are now closed. The next Challenge will run in spring 2023 and applications will open in December.
Important! Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on businesses, clients may withdraw from the Challenge if circumstances change. This is out of our control, and we will not be able to provide a new client or project once the Challenge has begun. In this event, we would offer the opportunity to complete the Challenge but without the input of the client.
What is the time commitment?
- Six to eight hours per week for six weeks over the spring term, beginning on Monday 14 February.
- Group meetings: Your success on the Challenge will be reliant on your group’s good teamwork and collaboration, so you’ll need to be flexible and committed to finding time to meet your group once or twice each week. One of these meetings should take place on Mondays.
- Client meetings: In addition to group meetings, you’ll meet virtually with your client approximately once a week and spend some time working independently on skills development and project work.
- Three phases of the Challenge:
- Week one: getting to know your group, meeting your client for the first time and researching your brief to make sure that you understand your task.
- Weeks two - four: work to fulfill your project brief, including meeting with your group and client.
- Weeks five - six: produce and deliver a group presentation along with a written report for your client. The deadline to do this by is Friday 26 March.
What skills or experience do I need?
The Challenge is open to all current students, regardless of how much experience you have. You don’t need any specific skills or technical knowledge, but a collaborative and positive attitude is important. because of the strong group work element and the links with real-life businesses that invest time in creating a project and meeting with students.
You’ll need to be:
Dedicated and reliable. The Challenge has a strong group work element and you’ll be working with a real-life business that has invested time in creating a project and committed to meeting with you on a weekly basis. Good consultants don't let their team or client down!
Collaborative. You'll need to form a cohesive team with a small group of strangers and work together to achieve a result in six weeks. You’re not on your own though, support to develop skills in communication and conflict resolution is provided on the Challenge.
Proactive. It’s called a Challenge for a reason! You’ll work on a project that’s randomly assigned, so you can't rely on having pre-existing knowledge of a sector. Projects are diverse and across many sectors so specific training isn't possible; your group will need to use problem-solving skills to address your client’s needs.
Independent: The Challenge is a formative experience for many, giving you the freedom and responsibility to arrange much of the workload yourself and with your group. The exception to this is a few pre-planned meetings for availability purposes. You can ask for help at any point, and the NCC manager provides lots of input via the skills development activities, but the onus is you and your fellow students to work through the obstacles as a group and complete the Challenge.
What could I be doing?
Each client has selected an issue or a problem that is important to them. They may not have the time, resources or expertise to address the issue, so are looking for your insight.
Past projects have included:
building a community hub for an arts organisation
developing a sustainability strategy for a natural health product company
creating a volunteer recruitment strategy for an international charity
Read our blog: why do the Challenge?
The way we all work has been fundamentally altered as a result of the pandemic and remote, hybrid or blended working looks here to stay. Spring’s Challenge will be fully virtual, in part so that we can continue to run it in any circumstances but also because there are real advantages to doing so.
You can participate from wherever you’re based
You’ll be developing and demonstrating skills that are highly relevant to any future career: working remotely is here to stay, even after Covid-19, so learn those skills now.
You’ll meet and collaborate with other students, which isn't always possible face-to-face
You don’t need any pre-existing expertise or experience working remotely: if you have access to a computer with a webcam and microphone and an internet connection, you can get fully involved.
The NCC will be mainly delivered through Moodle, Microsoft Office 365 (including Teams) and over email, available to you via your university account.
What will the average week look like?
Each week will involve some time spent working collaboratively, and some time spent working independently. Each group will need to be understanding of each other’s commitments whilst also being as flexible as possible to ensure you’re able to meet and make progress.
Your average week will look something like this:
One group meeting on Monday at a time that you all agree
One group meeting on a day / time that you all agree
One client meeting on a day / time that you and your client agree
Online communication with your group and (possibly) your client
Independent project work or preparing your presentation and report
What support will I receive?
You will need to be proactive and independent on the Challenge, but support is available throughout. The Careers and Employability Service help you to develop the skills you’ll need to succeed on the Challenge, and we ask clients to provide feedback on your output at the end. Support includes:
How to work well as a group, including managing any conflict
Feedback from your client on your presentation, and how well you addressed their business need
Feedback from the Careers service on your ability to reflect on your experience and translate it to your future career plans (NAA students only)
Am I eligible?
The Challenge is open to all current* University of Nottingham students regardless of year group or subject.
The Challenge typically receives more applications than there are places available. Students will be scored and ranked according to marking criteria (available with the application form). Where high numbers of applications are received, we may close the application window early and reserve the right to prioritise students who:
*You must be a current student when the Challenge begins in Spring 2022
What do students say about it?
The business that I had to work on was not in an area that I was familiar with. I liked this, as it really challenged me to develop new skills and think outside-the-box.
Final year Law student
I liked how much independence we had with the task and how well my group worked together. It was an extremely fulfilling program that helped me gain excellent experience.
Second year Politics and International Relations student
I enjoyed the flexibility of the Challenge - the outcome desired (10 minute presentation; report) was defined, but how you chose to get there as a team was up to your group. This allowed us to thrive creatively, and come up with unique, collaborative ways of working throughout the Challenge to produce high-quality work.
Second year Humanities student