Sussexful move from student to staff

Sonia Paganuzzi reflects on her role, Internal Communications and Engagement Intern, as it comes to end.


Setting the scene:

I started my undergraduate degree, as a bright eyed fresher back in September 2013. Fast forward a few years and I had completed my undergraduate degree in History and then my masters in International Journalism. Much like any recent graduate, I was at a bit of a loss as to what I wanted to do next, but I knew that I wasn’t quite done with Sussex just yet.

I saw a role come up with the SAAT programme, despite having no idea what the programme was, I decided to do my research and apply. Much to my delight it worked out and I was appointed as their new graduate intern. The role focused on internal communication and student engagement.

It’s always a daunting experience starting something new and my first day was an experience I’ll never forget. I had all these preconceptions as to what it would be like to work at Sussex, and they all pretty much went out the window within 5 minutes. The day started with a song. A lovely, but albeit, confusing rendition of ‘Go West’ – that was changed to ‘Go Test’, for one of the testing team members who was leaving that day. Following on from that, there was an energiser, which involved me prancing around making animal noises. It became quickly apparent that I had joined a team of very interesting characters.


FOM team dinner

My role and what I learned:

My role was varied, quick to change, and not based solely at my desk. I was asked what work I liked, so that they could give me more of it. Quickly they gave me more responsibility and ownership over projects that I enjoyed. I was able to use my experience as a recent graduate to my advantage as it helped me ensure that the student voice was captured in the development of the programme. For example, when it came to organising focus groups, I knew what questions were going to ignite a response, and I was also able to draw on my own experiences, in order to provoke conversations among focus group attendees.

Working in the SAAT team was a unique experience. Their agile and flexible ways of working encourage a positive environment in which everyone can be heard. Naturally there were ups and downs in my role. However, with every down I endured, I found a positive and came out a bit tougher. It’s been interesting to see both sides to Sussex, to be a student and then to be staff. Ultimately, I think both sides benefit from having a greater understanding of the other. Which is why the student experience conference in November 2017 was so important, as it marked a key milestone in the collaboration between students and staff.

I’ve gained invaluable experience whilst having wonderful time being a part of the SAAT team, and I would actively encourage both staff and students alike to get involved, and play a part in a programme that is creating real and exciting change for the University of Sussex.

If you have any ideas that you would like to submit for the next graduate intern to take forward, leave your idea in the comments section below, alternatively please contact:


Sonia as a student in 2016

Sonia as a staff member two years later!


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