Monthly Archives: October 2022

  • Alumni Spotlight: Languages, Geography and Taking Opportunities

    Where can languages take me? Ex-Bilborough student, Matt, used his Geography and Language A levels to kickstart a career in the charity sector as well as travelling around the world. We caught up with him recently to find out how he got there!


    1. Can you tell us your name and current job role?

    Matt Cooke, Supporter Engagement & Income Generation Officer at Framework Charity.


    2. What does an average day look like in your job?

    It’s a job where no two days are truly the same. I work as part of a small and amazing team and our primary goals are to increase the profile of the charity in the areas within which we work, raise awareness of homelessness and raise funds so that we can continue to provide the vital and lifechanging services that Framework offers.

    I primarily look after our relationships in the community and so spend much of my time working with schools, youth groups, colleges, universities, faith groups and other community groups to facilitate opportunities for them to support our work.

    I also help organise events and work with individual supporters to make sure they are happy and feel included in what we are doing, especially those who choose to make a major donation to Framework or to leave us a gift in their Will.


    Matt gives a talk in Nicaragua.


    3.What subjects did you study at Bilborough?

    I studied Spanish, German and Geography at Bilborough from 2011-2013.


    4. When you started at Bilborough, were you planning to go down this route?


    Having studied languages at Bilborough and continued these at University, I always intended to pursue a career in which I could use my language skills on a daily basis. I did do this for a few years whilst at University and after graduating, spending time living abroad in Germany and in Central America and working for large multinational corporations where I was able to put my language skills to good use. This was really fun and a great experience, but for personal reasons I wanted to try something a bit different and ended up making a move into the charity sector.

    Whilst I am not using my language skills directly in my current job, studying languages taught me so much more than just the language and has allowed me to develop some really important skills and build my self-confidence. It is only because I studied languages that I have been able to have all the experiences I have had to-date and am able to do such a good job in my current role.

    Matt receiving an award from Bilborough.

    5. After Leaving Bilborough, what was your next step?

    After leaving Bilborough I went on to study Translation Studies with German and Spanish at University and spent time working and volunteering in Germany and Nicaragua. These were some of the best experiences of my life so far, but it was studying at Bilborough that gave me the confidence and belief to go out there and grasp these opportunities.


    6. What advice would you give your college-age self?

    Take every opportunity that comes your way and keep an open mind. There are so many paths you can follow when you leave Bilborough – not just in terms of the working world but in terms of life as a whole – and if you work hard and dream big at Bilborough, you could find yourself walking down any of them. You’re incredibly lucky to be studying in such an amazing environment, so enjoy it and have no regrets.

    I would also say that, when it comes to the world of work, find a job that makes you happy and don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things. There is nothing worse than not wanting to get out of bed every morning to go to work. Find something you are passionate about because, when your job becomes a passion, you’ve won.



    Matt graduates from Aston University with a degree in translation studies with
    German and Spanish.


    7. Is there a highlight of your time at Bilborough that helped put you on the path you are on?

    I don’t think I have a particular highlight or moment that I look back on. I just loved my two years at Bilborough and would say that, by taking every opportunity available to me, I was able to get the very best out of my time at college.


    8. What’s next for you?

    Who knows – I am loving working in the charity sector and for now am looking to make a career out of it. But life takes you to unexpected places and I know there will be other opportunities and different paths that become available. I plan to keep an open mind and enjoy the ride!


    With thanks to Matt Cooke for sharing his career story with us!

    If you are an ex-student of Bilborough and you would like to share your story, please email

  • Alumni Spotlight

    5 Years on since leaving Bilborough, we caught up with Sara to chat about what she’s up to and find out how Bilborough, particularly Music Technology, played a role in her journey to studying her PhD in Artifical Intelligence and Music.

    Could you start by telling us your name and what you do?


     Hey! I am Sara Cardinale, I am a PhD Researcher in Artificial Intelligence and Music at Queen Mary, University of London. Specifically, I am researching and inventing new ways to use AI to generate music for film and videogames.


    What does an average day look like in your job?


    There is no average day! One of the benefits of the job is that I set my own schedule, so I can work on what I like when I like (unless a paper deadline is looming!). This brings its own challenges, I have to efficiently manage my time to keep on track but the freedom I have to explore such an interesting area is worth it.

    My time is usually split into reading papers to make sure that I am aware of other research in my area, sending/replying to emails and other admin tasks, attending seminars and research group meetings, and… doing research! I have my own research projects that will end up becoming my PhD thesis, and side projects. When I spend time working on my research project, it usually starts with reading some interesting papers in my area that inspire me and give me ideas for a new project or an insight on how to improve something that already exists. When I am excited by a new idea, I start thinking about the details such as what is the motivation for this new tool or improvement I am making, and how will it work.

    Not all ideas work! Sometimes I have to find ways to overcome problems, and sometimes it’s back to the drawing board.  Not every step is forward, but that’s the nature of research. Then, after a few weeks (or months), the project starts taking shape. When I’ve finally solved my problem, it’s time to write. I submit research papers to all sorts of venues, journals, conferences, and workshops to share my work with other researchers.

    I love how creative yet scientific this job is. Although it is hard and mentally tiring at times, I love being a researcher and wouldn’t change it for anything!

    Sara Graduates from Bilborough in 2017


    What subjects did you study at Bilborough and when?


    I attended Bilborough college from 2015 to 2017. The subjects I chose were Music Technology, Psychology and Ethics and Philosophy. I had just moved to the U.K. from Italy, where the education system is very different. I had studied music theory and performance for most of my life, so I wanted to try something new that Italy’s education system did not offer.


    When you started Bilborough, were you planning to go down this route?


    Absolutely not! I knew I wanted to go to university and that’s about it. I remember thinking that I wanted to take a break from music and maybe consider a career/degree in something else. After taking music technology at Bilborough, I decided to stay in the music world, but I would have never thought I would end up where I am now!


    After leaving Bilborough what was your next step?


    I studied Creative Music Technology at the University of Surrey, then straight onto the PhD. During my time at university, I was exposed to academic research and realised how much I enjoyed it.


    What advice would you give to your younger (college age) self?

    I would probably tell college Sara to be more confident in herself and her skills.


    Is there a highlight of your college experience that you think helped you to take the path you did?


    Absolutely! I owe a huge thank you to the Music Tech 2015-2017 staff. Before attending Bilborough College, I had never done any music production or composition, and they made me fall in love with the subject. I had the best time attending lessons and working on my projects. If it was not for them, I probably would not have chosen music technology as a subject at university, and maybe would have continued with music performance, or even chosen a completely different field.


    What’s next for you?


    Right now, I am in my second year, out of four, of my PhD. After I graduate, I plan to become a lecturer,  teaching  AI and music techniques and creative computing to undergraduate music students.


    We’d like to say a huge thank you to Sara for sharing her story and taking time from her busy research schedule to talk to us. 


    If you are an ex-student of Bilborough and you would like to share your story, please email