Last year we were delighted to launch the University of Hull Alumni Entrepreneur Network, bringing together alumni at different stages of their entrepreneurial journeys for support, networking and exchange of learning and ideas, and after two events we’re really excited by how the group is developing.
In this article we hear from recent graduate and network member Alice Johnson (American Studies, 2020) who has been a member of the network since the start and has already been making connections with fellow alumni. Alice shares with us her experiences of being in the network, how other network members have supported her, and what she hopes to do in the future.
If you would like to find out more about the Entrepreneur Network or get involved, then drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we have meetings every three months and we’d love to hear from you!
I am Alice Johnson; a 2020 American Studies graduate from the University of Hull. I currently work part-time for Start Up Hull, the Entrepreneurship department of the University, creating content, organising events and workshops, as well as aiding the student entrepreneurial experience. In the rest of my time, I am an up-and-coming Producer, launching my own audio-visual limited series podcast this summer! I have always been interested in the hustle of being an entrepreneur and during lockdown, launched my own blog and social platform, Produced By Alice, to produce content on independent filmmakers, business owners and other lifestyle content. I aim to use that platform to develop my interests and my freelance portfolio in producing and social media content creation.
Initially, I wanted to get involved with the HUAEN in order to get a better understanding of the experience of an entrepreneur, and to find out what entrepreneurs had come from the same alumnus for some motivation. Both my internship with Start Up Hull and my podcast/blog are focused on the ideas of enterprise, the working world and hustle culture, so I thought a specific network such as this one would be a great place to develop my understanding and entrepreneurship skills. However, since joining HUAEN, I have found it much more beneficial beyond that for personal growth and career development progression – particularly for networking!
So far, I have made many valuable contacts and have had a lot of support from different HUAEN members, in particular from Serena Gay. Serena is a BBC trained journalist, and her brand Made 4 U Podcasts obviously caught my eye with my upcoming work. I was able to connect with her and book a free consultation session with her to have personalised advice. Serena said: “It was such a pleasure for me to meet Alice, find out what she is doing and hopefully pass on some useful podcasting information. I really wish a network like this had existed in my day. I remember striking out on my own after graduation without any one at all to turn to for advice. It’s fantastic to see Alice and her generation of Hull graduates so full of energy, plans and ambitions.” I think this is what makes the network so important, especially in the world of remote working, freelancing and entrepreneurship can be such an isolated space, so to have these connections as a place to discuss ideas and gain mentorship, is invaluable for recent graduates like myself. Since then, I have joined in Serena’s three-day podcast content workshops, again expanding my network to other similar creatives, which I have gained a lot from.
In addition to this, Serena and the rest of HUAEN, notably Matt Johnson and Celia Clark, have all supported and engaged with my achievements on LinkedIn, always providing advice and encouragement where they can and have included me in opportunities for career growth. For example, Matt has offered his time to me as a fellow Alumni working in the creative industry, and next week we will have a 1:1 session, where I can pick his brains for all things content creation!
Although I always knew that I would be able to gain so much from the HUAEN connections and sessions, I was conscious that I might not be able to contribute much in return as someone at the beginning of their career. Despite this, I have recommended the network to many entrepreneurial alumni that I come across and have been able to add my prospective as a 2020 fresh graduate!
I would encourage any freelancers, creatives or entrepreneurial graduates to join the network because the most supportive people, are always going to be your university alumni. Within the network, there is a shared experience and desire to be part of the next entrepreneurial journey and see great strides come out of the University of Hull. I thoroughly look forward to being able to experience the in-person HUAEN events, but the online experience is more accessible and interactive as ever, so I am grateful to have this free mentoring, consulting and connecting network all rolled into one. After being at the University of Hull since 2016, my time Humberside has shaped me in so many ways and HUAEN is a great way to continue that. There is such a great range of career paths, locations and graduating classes within the network (some of us have not even had the chance to walk across the stage yet!) that there will always advice and help for everyone, no matter what stage or niche your entrepreneurial journey falls into.