From coursework to reality

Ask any final year student: the move from student life to working life can be daunting. Aside from the changes in daily routines and habits, the real world is… different. Or is it?

For James Koash, the difference between “real world” tasks and coursework has been blurring – and some of his projects have been taking on a life of their own. Find out more about his projects in our From coursework to reality feature.

Camera, filming

James Koash with his DVD attached to the newspaper

One recent coursework assignment, for the Collaborative Video Project module, required him to work with an external organisation to produce a video that would meet their needs. “Cardiff Credit Union had approached Sara Jolly, my tutor, about getting a video made. Knowing that I have an interest in doing work for community projects, she recommended me to them. They were worried about the problem of doorstep lenders who are targeting vulnerable people, so they wanted to produce a video that warns people about the risks and let people know about the Cardiff Credit Union.”

James worked with Helen Cocco to produce the video. He met a customer who had a story to tell, and then used student actors to reenact her story for the filming, as the identity of the customer needed to be protected. Everything was going well, but something was missing. “Cardiff Credit Union had the story and the concept, but we didn’t have a way to get the video out there.There was no distribution. So we got in touch with Communities First in Ely and Caerau, about producing a DVD.”

The DVD James produced carried six films – 5 videos for Communities First, and one for Cardiff Credit Union – and was attached on the Ely Grapevine, a free newsletter delivered to 12,000 households. “I managed the project and produced the DVD, designing the DVD menu and preparing everything for production. It was a great project to add to my portfolio of volunteer work done at uni.”

Volunteering and work experience

Student volunteering is one way in which you can gain valuable work experience. Some project specific opportunities are listed as Work Tasters by GO Wales.

You might also be interested in the Experience Works week of events about work experience. It’s never too late to gain experience, but the earlier you start, the better!

It’s not the only volunteer project he’s involved in. “I’m working on a project for Holly’s Ball, which will hopefully be shown in Millennium Lounge of the Millennium Stadium in April. It’s all about explaining what autism is, and how parents deal with it. This is just a nice thing to do voluntary work for – it’s nothing to do with my course at all.”

By far the biggest volunteer assignment, however, is his role as Chair of the Students’ Union Council. “I got involved with Union campaigning in my first year. The ATRiuM had only been open for one year and had no Union, so I took on the campaign for a Union building to get more of a community feel. Then the University built it – which made my second year the most enjoyable year of the course so far. It felt great to have made a difference, and the course was not as intense as it is now. This year, I’m very busy with the course, my role as Chair of the Union Council and everything else – it’s a bit stressful.”

Asked what he plans to do after graduation, James has a number of different ideas and plans. He’s optimistic that all his voluntary work experience on real world projects is going to pay off in great opportunities.

Below, you can watch the video he produced for Cardiff Credit Union:

Features on Glamlife

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