September 2012: Amy Sell

Amy in 2012 2007 English and History

What am I doing now?

For the past few months, I’ve been rehearsing hard as I was lucky enough to have been picked to take part in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games. At the time of writing, I’ve already taken part in the Opening Ceremony (an absolutely amazing experience!) and have just one rehearsal left before the Closing Ceremony.  In my normal day-to-day life, I’m the Product Executive of www.findmypast.co.uk, a family history website. My role is to make the website as easy to use as possible so that people can start tracing their own family trees, as you see celebrities doing on the TV programme Who Do You Think You Are?

Amy Sell drumming How did you get to where you are now? 

After graduating from Keele, I worked as an administrator at a publishing company for a year before moving to findmypast.co.uk. I find the world of family history fascinating and have worked my way up from an administrative role into the marketing department and have recently been promoted to my current role.   I got involved in the Olympic ceremonies after seeing a tweet last year calling for volunteer performers. I applied and was called to my first audition in November. We were put to the test with a game of "Simon Says", a couple of dance routines and a fair amount of walking around in time to music. I remember thinking that I didn’t have a hope of getting a call back as there seemed to be so many talented dancers in the room!  Luckily for me, they weren’t just looking for dancers and I was called back for a drumming audition a couple of weeks later. I then had an agonising two month wait until I heard whether I’d been successful. When the email finally came to say that there was a spot for me in both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, I had to read it twice to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood!  The rehearsals started in May and since then my group have spent around 150 hours working towards the ceremonies. There was a lot to learn! We had a dual role in the Opening Ceremony - drumming in the Industrial Revolution sequence and then coming out again to act as marshals during the athlete’s parade. We’ll be back for some more marshalling in the Closing Ceremony and I can’t wait!  

What has been your biggest achievement so far?  

I still count my dissertation as one of my biggest achievements. I remember wondering how I’d ever write that many words at the beginning of my third year, before getting totally absorbed in what I was researching and handing in a piece of work I was incredibly proud of.  

Amy with Chris Hoy! And your biggest mistake?

Not staying for the all-night party after the Opening Ceremony – I knew I’d regret it! Don’t worry, that mistake will be rectified after the Closing Ceremony!

What are your ambitions now?

While I’m sad that my Olympic experience is nearly over, I’m really looking forward to getting my life back. I’ve not spent much time with my boyfriend, family and friends lately so I intend to enjoy what’s left of the summer and catch up with everyone.  I’ve also just taken on a new role at work, so I want to make a real success of it. I love learning new things and I’ll be doing a lot of that in the coming months. I’m looking forward to adding HTML, video editing and web usability to my skills very soon.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field? 

 I’d definitely recommend looking for jobs at companies that interest you. Such a lot of your time is spent at work, so it’s important that you’re enthusiastic about what you do. I had no idea what ‘career’ I wanted when I left Keele, but I really don’t think you need to know. I’ve found it much more exciting to learn what’s right for me as I’ve worked – there’s no way I’d ever have ended up where I am now if I’d forced myself down a particular career route.

What made you choose Keele University?  

It was the surroundings that got me – I loved the squirrels, trees and sign posts when I came to the open day. I remember thinking that Keele was like a little village and that I’d feel at home there.

What kind of a student were you? 

I was a hard worker but had my fair share of the social side too! I’m not one to waste opportunities and I certainly wasn’t going to waste my time at Keele.

Amy in graduation robes by main gate How has Keele influenced your life? 

I definitely have more confidence in myself thanks to my time at Keele. I think it really taught me to throw myself into things, regardless of whether I might end up embarrassing myself (often, very likely!)

What is your favourite memory of Keele?

I have so many fantastic memories – picnics at Keele Hall, cheesy chips and even cheesier music on a Wednesday night, the History field trip, playing in the snow, cake competitions, pumpkin carving, being wrapped up in box and the giant David Tennant door poster!  

What is your impression of Keele now? 

I’m very fond of Keele and its oddities – I think it’s brilliant that you now have a Quidditch team! That’s the Keele we know and love!