Poppy Aston

BA English and History, University of York

Why I applied

I applied for this scheme as I wanted to be part of a world-leading organisation that makes a real difference; the University of Birmingham felt like the right fit. I had a keen interest in the higher education sector and the wider role that the University played locally, nationally and internationally. I also felt it was a unique opportunity to gain a breadth of generalist skills, and the ideal place to start my journey in a dynamic and stimulating career in management and leadership.

Poppy Aston


My favourite thing about the scheme is the exposure to different departments across the University. I have enjoyed being pushed outside my comfort zone with a breadth of varied and challenging placements that have allowed me to excel in areas I was initially daunted by.


I have taken ownership of projects, worked closely with senior staff, and developed high-level leadership skills, all whilst being supported to succeed every step of the way.


My advice to anyone joining the scheme would be to:

Build connections; staff and students are at the heart of what we do at the University and our experience is made all the richer by those you connect with. I have enjoyed working with a variety of teams, building relationships and learning from others.

Remember leadership is at all levels; I have been entrusted to project manage and lead on multiple strategically important projects at the University. These experiences have grown my confidence and taught me it does not require years of experience or detailed technical knowledge to effect meaningful change and positively influence others.

Embrace challenges; the most rewarding and interesting projects have been those that I’ve previously known little about. Never underestimate the power you can have by coming in with a positive mindset, asking questions and offering a fresh, ‘outsider’ perspective.