How I gained career skills as a Pearson Student Advisor

My name is Seliat and I was on the 2013/14 Pearson Student Advisory Board (PSAB) while studying Mathematics at the University of Bristol.

Continuing with my passion for education and mathematics I joined the Teach First Leadership Development Programme after graduating. I'm now teaching mathematics in a South London school and I am also the More Able Students Leader.

I felt that PSAB was a defining experience - it equipped me with skills that I’ve built on in my career. Most importantly these skills have enabled me to go on to start up my own social enterprise, The Math Pit, an organisation set to disrupt mathematics education and help secondary students develop their mathematical resilience.

In this blog post I’ll concentrate on how being on PSAB set me up for my somewhat unconventional career pathway. I’ll focus on 3 main skill-set areas.

Project management

As part of PSAB projects I often organised events and focus groups on my campus to raise awareness about the PSAB projects I was working on. This meant that I had to liaise with various stakeholders, manage my time effectively and ensure the events went smoothly. I’m sure you can imagine the amount of planning and management that starting up an enterprise involves!

While setting up The Math Pit I’ve had to work with and manage different groups of people, including those more senior. The specific relationship I developed with my Pearson sponsor Lisa was especially useful for this.

Evaluation and analysis

PSAB projects are impact-focused and Pearson was really clear about its commitment to acting on our recommendations and taking them into consideration. This meant that we took pride in our evaluation of the projects we worked on and the products and software we reviewed. We carried out surveys, interviews and put together reports summarising our findings.

To be a social enterprise you’ve got to demonstrate and evaluate the social impact you’re having. Being on PSAB prompted me to hone these skills, especially because I hadn’t done much of this on my degree.

Powers of persuasion: Effective communication and presenting skills

PSAB is not for the faint-hearted or students who aren’t willing to put themselves out of their comfort zones in order to grow and develop! After working on particular PSAB projects we would feed back and present our findings to senior members of the business. This process improved my ability to articulate my views and put across a strong argument. I have really drawn on this experience when I have gone to pitch to potential funders and investors.

In particular PSAB taught me the importance of varying your presentation style according to your audience. Luckily for me I have been really successful in accruing funding and I’m happy to have been able to craft my style during PSAB.

Overall, I enjoyed being on PSAB because it allowed me to have an impact in areas that I cared about while bettering myself and developing myself holistically.

I hope you’ve found this useful.

Seliat Agboola

Seliat Agboola is a Teach First graduate maths teacher in London. She is an alumni of the Pearson Student Advisory Board 2013/14.

Portrait of Seliat Agboola