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Working as a Durham Student Ambassador (DSA)

This week we are looking forward to welcoming new students to our University! We have 2 post-offer visit days this week, Tuesday 26 March and Wednesday 27 March, if you’re coming along you are guaranteed a very warm welcome from our wonderful DSA’s!

I spoke to Elisa Walker (E), a second-year Business Management student from Newcastle and member of Josephine Butler College. The main attraction for her to study at Durham was because of the collegiate system which she experienced first hand at the Sutton Trust Summer School in 2016. She loves being a DSA and is looking forward to working at future summer schools as she already knows the fun involved in them! Here she gives an insight into what it’s like to be a DSA and busts some myths about the time commitment required!

Q: How did you become a DSA?

E: I became a DSA by applying for a role I saw advertised on the Durham University Careers & Enterprise webpages, there are lots of part-time opportunities for students.  I attended an individual interview for the role. Following this, I was invited back for a second group interview and then got the job offer!

Q: What do you actually do as a DSA?

E: Being a DSA is an extremely rewarding job. As you are an Ambassador for the University you need to be a people person all the time when you’re in your uniform! Our job includes helping at summer schools, setting up discos and karaoke, talking to new people about the university on open days and post-offer visit days.  We also go to local schools and sixth forms to give talks and help students who are determined to reach their dream university. Along the way, you get a lot of training and incredible support so you are prepared for the role! Being a DSA is more than a job, it’s also connecting with people out of common interest.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a DSA?

E: The most fun part about being a DSA is working with your colleagues! Everyone has a different story to tell and everyone is keen to listen. There’s always a variety of people you work with on each shift, so it’s exciting getting to know new colleagues. The other fun aspect is participating in the summer school activities, you get to get involved in so much over one week.

The summer schools are designed to open access to higher education through schemes such as the Sutton Trust that supports progression and increases social mobility. Each of the summer schools is a week-long, I will look after a group of 5-8 students and act as their mentor, answering any questions they may have about university life, showing them around Durham and the colleges, and taking the students to academic sessions for their chosen subject. At the end of the week, the students complete an assessment.

Any advice for anyone looking to be a DSA?

E: Go for it!  If you are passionate about helping university be an education path for EVERYONE and ANYONE, put in an application! We are all passionate about opening up higher education.  I am proud to wear the uniform and help others. I can’t describe how many amazing people I have met through this job and I hope to meet more in future years. Put in that application, it’s honestly a worthwhile experience!

Q: How do you stay focused on uni and still work as a DSA?

E: Being a DSA does not interfere with university life at all! You choose when you want to work on which days, so don’t worry about your academic timetable clashing with the role! The job provides a good balance because it gets you away from your work for a few hours every couple of weeks!

Applications to become a DSA open in October, look out for information from the Student Employment Service on the Careers and Enterprise Centre webpages and also through colleges.

You can get in touch with the team


Seun Onalaja

Hi! My name is Seun Onalaja and I am a third-year Accounting & Finance student from Stephenson College. I am from Lagos, Nigera originally. I am currently on my placement year working with L'Oreal in London. I am a keen photographer and ran @thedurhamstudent Instagram account las year!

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