I would 100% recommend to other students to take up an Internship

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I would 100% recommend to other students to take up an Internship. The work experience was an invaluable contribution towards real-world relevant experience listed on my CV which, ultimately, I feel helped in me landing a fantastic placement job and permanent part-time work!  

Brody Wilton BSC (Hons) Computer Science, role: Web Developer, employer: Believe.digital 

Describe how you felt on your first day in your internship

On the first day of my internship, I was pretty excited to start working as a web developer. I joined university after having applied (unsuccessfully) for many web development jobs after being made redundant from my first web dev position. To start a paid internship within a year of starting University was a great feeling and showed that I hadn’t been unsuccessful due to lack of skills.  

What key skills have you learnt through your internship and how do they link to your course/ career goals?   

The main skills I learnt whilst working through my internship were how to successfully work independently and remotely as my role was primarily work from home; 3 days at home, 2 in office. I also refined my web development skills in JavaScript, HTML and CSS. I learned a lot more about developing within a PHP environment as a lot of the projects I worked on were primarily WordPress websites.  

Would you recommend other UWE Bristol students take up an internship and why?   

I would 100% recommend to other students to take up an Internship. The work experience was an invaluable contribution towards real-world relevant experience listed on my CV which, ultimately, I feel helped in me landing a fantastic placement job between my 2nd and 3rd years of University. I was also offered continued, permanent part-time work during my 2nd year as a result of a successful internship over the summer. Shout out to all at Believe.digital (especially Rob), it’s a great company with a brilliant working atmosphere and I’d 110% recommend it as a place for anyone to work at as an intern; everyone is super helpful when starting out and if you don’t know something, it really isn’t an issue, just ask.  

Boosting confidence, knowledge and CV through an internship

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I’ve learnt how to apply my knowledge from university in real-life situations and how the real engineering world functions as a business. Relevant skills I’ll need to be successful in my career

John Nicola BENG (Hons) Automotive Engineering, role: Mechanical Engineer Intern, employer: Emvio Engineering 

Describe how you felt on your first day in your internship   

I felt excited but also on the edge as it was before I knew what I would be doing. 

What key skills have you learnt through your internship and how do they link to your course/ career goals?   

I have learnt how to apply my knowledge from university in real-life situations and how the real engineering world functions in terms of business. These are both relevant as in my career I will need both these skills to be successful. 

Would you recommend other UWE Bristol students take up an internship and why?   

I would highly recommend other UWE Bristol students to take up an internship as it will boost confidence, knowledge and cv in the subject. 

Without question you must do an internship!

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Callum Jones: BSC (Hons) Geography, Title: Assistant to Creative Director, Employer: On The Fly

Describe how you felt on your first day in your internship

I felt nervous on my first day, but a good nervous, where I was excited to dive into this new intersectional world of art, culture and sustainability. Starting something new, where there is a big change in the people, places and work you will be doing, is always nerve racking for me. But I instantly met some great people and was mentored amazingly, feeling so welcome and at home on the first day.

What key skills have you learnt through your internship and how do they link to your course/ career goals?

My internship exposed me to project management on a large scale. I was thrown in the deep end to shadow and help manage a huge project with many different artists, directors and stakeholders. I was essentially training to become a creative director, like my mentor, which to me is invaluable and put my communication, time management, ‘disaster’ response, networking, creative and other soft skills to the test. My career goals aren’t set but being my own boss and working as a leader is a huge part of my future. This internship has set me up with a newly confounded and prolific sense of confidence and resilience, so I am ready to take on the world!



Would you recommend other UWE Bristol students take up an internship and why?

I did both a sandwich year placement/internship with Bristol water and then a summer internship with a creative director for arts and culture in the same year. Without my time at Bristol water, I wouldn’t have networked my way into my arts internship (which is right up my street, but I didn’t even know it existed!). I quickly realised that although experience is great, it is more about the expansion of your network and how well this can set you up for the future. Being proactive and pushing for ANY internship, even if you think it may not be for you, will set you up with new skills, contacts, and confidence. It is so worth the work. It is as much about finding what you don’t want to do and the type of people you don’t want to work with, as it is about discovering those aspects of work you desire to pursue

Without question you must do an internship! Any internship, even if you think it may not be for you, will set you up with new skills, a wider network of contacts, and great confidence

Callum Jones: BSC (Hons) Geography

How I got a great graduate role as an international student

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Abdulbasit Yekeen, B.Eng Hons Robotics graduate, talks through his UWE journey and graduate experience

‘If you are very good at what you do, building a career should be the least of your worries’

Since childhood, I have been curious about  technology and engineering. Designing electronic circuits and writing intelligent software were all I could think about as I grew older. I was very fascinated by robots and machines so studying robotics was a no-brainer. Many thought I had chosen a degree that was too specialized and that building a career in it will be very difficult. I was more than ready to prove them wrong because I believed that if you are very good at what you do, building a career should be the least of your worries.

‘At the end of the year, I had one of the best results’

Due to visa delays, I came a month late to the university. Various deadlines and lectures were already missed and others were very close. I had to spend long hours in the lab and also understanding various complex concepts fast to submit the assignments. My course mates were very kind and they assisted me in catching up with the rest of the class. At the end of my first year, I managed to get a good grade. During the summer holiday, I spent most of my time programming because this was my weakest skill. The second year commenced and I put in more effort into understanding every subject. The pandemic prevented us from doing various exciting practicals which could be used to demonstrate deep understanding with potential employers. At the end of the year, I had one of the best results, and getting a placement to apply my knowledge was the plan.

‘I reviewed my rejection letters and researched the skills employers were looking for. I think I may have actually applied to almost three hundred jobs’

I applied for several placement opportunities, and none were successful. The pandemic drastically reduced the number of placement opportunities and the few available were highly competitive. Over the holiday, I reviewed my rejection letters and researched the skills employers were looking for in potential candidates. My review showed that I needed to perform more practical projects and also learn C++(programming language). I found a good C++ on Udacity and spent several weeks mastering the concepts of the language. I also did various practical projects which could be showcased to potential employers.

Within that period, I got a two-week International Talent Internship with Milbotix and also following this a junior firmware engineer role with a company called DOMIN. I was very excited since this was my first experience working as an engineer. The Internship with Milbotix made me apply various skills I had learned personally and at the university. This internship opened the door to a lot of offers I did not even apply for. Every now and then, someone called me on LinkedIn about a potential opportunity somewhere. The results came out and guess what? I got a first-class and most of us graduated with a minimum of 2:1. Remember I said at the start that many thought getting a job was going to be extremely difficult. Well, I proved them wrong. I graduated with a good grade and got a great job in my career of choice.  I have started the role and so far I am enjoying it. I hope to get involved with more amazing technologies and one day start a Tech company. Take this with you, If I can achieve it then you definitely can.

‘Take this with you, If I can achieve it then you definitely can.

How data inputting and conforming to changing NHS guidelines meant I could help keep grassroots football going

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Grace Etheredge talks about volunteering in data science to support her law degree

Leckhampton Rovers Football Club is a grassroots football club for children aged 5 – 18 and adults. The Club has over 30 teams, each with over 11 members. During the pandemic I took on the responsibility of ensuring data collection adhered to new Covid-19 rules.

I set up a system to manage the submission of each team’s attendance and sanitation data, in line with Government and NHS Guidance. This information was gathered so that, in the event of a Covid case being reported, teams would be able to identify possible contacts and seek medical advice.

I kept up to date with the changes in Government guidance on Covid and managed the designated email address for such submissions, logging the information on a spreadsheet, in accordance with GDPR.

In the event of a Covid case being reported, I would correspond with coaches and parents to inform them of the Government guidance, explore possible responses, and point them in the direction of medical help or equipment.

My volunteering directly assisted the organisation as it meant that the Club’s trustees and coaches could resume their roles, safe in the knowledge that I was monitoring their compliance with FA and Government guidelines.

This had a crucial impact on the Club as it meant that the coaches had a clear and centralised contact for any Covid-related issue, they could concentrate on playing football, and the hundreds of children could return to their training sessions and matches. This was especially important when restrictions meant that organised sport was the only sport some children could engage in.

The skills I have developed assist me in my work as a law student. This is because of the continued importance of self-discipline and attention to detail.I improved my time management skills as I balanced these responsibilities alongside my university work and other extra-curricular commitments. I developed the confidence to email coaches and inform them that they needed to get better at complying with the Club’s procedures. The experience has been particularly useful in my developing career as a barrister when communication, time management and self-motivation are key.

When I received a call from a coach regarding a Covid-contact, I learnt to remain calm under pressure, ask questions to ascertain the key information, and draw upon the most relevant Government guidance. I became adept at typing this up in a succinct way and highlighting the crucial sources.

Grassroots football is very important to my family and community, and it was very rewarding to be able to support its revival throughout the pandemic.

I want to make women feel empowered, to let them know they aren’t alone

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Law and Criminology student has used her volunteering experiences to help direct her career pathway

I work part time and study Law with Criminology at UWE, but I make the time to commit 1 day a week to supporting and helping victims of sexual abuse. For 2.5 hours once a week, I volunteer on a helpline.

Survivors of sexual abuse, recent or historic, call the helpline and talk to me for up to 40 minutes. The reasons for the call hugely vary. The majority of the calls I handle are offering survivors who are currently struggling some emotional support, such as talking about what has happened to them. Many of them have never spoke about it to anyone before. I talk about their feelings, and together we find ways they can cope.

I help survivors who are confused about what’s happened to them, advising survivors of recent sexual abuse on what to do, referring people and taking their details for counselling and safeguarding survivors who may be in danger, both from themselves and people they may be around.

There are 2 types of outgoing calls. Some are just returning missed calls from when the helpline was closed. Others are scheduled every 3 weeks for those who need that extra emotional support.

Volunteering for SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support) means they have 1 extra person who can take calls, meaning together we can support those extra few people. The impact on the community is huge. Survivors feel that they can talk about what happened with someone and they can get advice. They also feel believed and not alone. Several calls have even ended with the survivor feeling empowered and wanting to make their own difference.

This is totally new for me. I never thought I’d be able to listen to some of the things that are spoke about on the helpline, let alone support and offer advice to it. I’ve gained so much confidence since starting the helpline. I feel that if I can talk to the brave people I talk to and they feel they can talk to me about what has happened to them, then I can tackle pretty much anything.

It’s boosted my listening/communication skills more than any other experience ever could. I’ve learnt lots since volunteering, including how to support survivors, how to safeguard and what to do if they have been recently sexually abused eg. where to go for evidence, how police reporting works. But I’ve also learnt other things I never thought I would: its gave me the ability to look out for the little things and have a great eye for detail, amazing confidence and communication skills. Since volunteering, I’ve began leaning towards the career path of victim support. It’s nothing I’d ever thought I’d be able to do before – I didn’t have the confidence in myself and think I’d be able to do it, but I can.

From Community Garden Volunteer to Leading Science Communication

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Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science student, Maisie Deaton helped to create a community greenspace previously scheduled for a housing development

Transition Town Wellington is part of the transition network, an international environmental movement of local people volunteering to improve sustainability, wildlife, climate change and waste in their town.

I volunteered with them with the aim to help with community gardening and attend meetings but I soon became directly involved in a new project – creation of a forest garden and community greenspace, previously meant for housing development.

I became one of the leaders for science communication by analysing public data and survey responses. This meta analysis from over 250 public inputs aided the project leads to understand the thoughts and opinions of the town. I then produced graphics to present to the public during consultations. Furthermore, I kickstarted their Instagram account, developing their social media platforms to engage more of the community – especially the younger generation.

I believe my presence was useful to their team due to my age difference, (majority were of the older generation). My input provided encouragement that their service was impacting more of the community from all backgrounds, as well as inspiring other young people to take part. Development of an Instagram account also meant their aims could be presented through a more digital, photographic way.

Image of a small shop front with the words Indepependent, local, sustainable and a map of the area

My placement was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I had to live at home for a year before returning to my final year of study. Additionally, I had recently moved to Wellington and started working with this organisation only two months after moving to a completely new place (originally lived in Shropshire). I wanted to gain experience and get to know people in this new area.

Since volunteering with this organisation, I have become a lot more interested in the importance of science communication and working with local people. Aside from their main project, many small community gardening sessions took place where I gained many skills in gardening and land management – learning about plant species and soil which directly relates to my course at UWE: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science.

I made mini wildlife films to grow their YouTube channel. One of the Transition Town elements is to allow local people to develop skills and engage with the community. I edited my first wildlife film and gained experience in photography while sharing my work online for people to enjoy and learn from.
I would definitely continue volunteering if/when I return to Wellington (Somerset). Alternatively, there are many other similar organisations and opportunities within the local community that I’m now more open to take part in.

Irrespective of my fears living in a new place I volunteered to not only enhance my passions surrounding sustainability and conservation, but to help the community and break generational boundaries by connecting with people of all backgrounds, no matter our age or skill level.

This volunteering has actually helped me gain another volunteering project I recently got confirmed in South Africa. I will be volunteering as an ecological research assistant to gain work experience and help this small conservation organisation there.

My passion is to advocate for equality amongst the turmoil of displacement and trauma

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Beth Richardson talks about how being a Mother Companion has supported her degree to become a Midwife

I volunteered to be alongside pregnant women from different backgrounds with challenging situations, to bring skills from midwifery training to the support role but also to learn from their experience and what is needed to be able to provide culturally safe and appropriate perinatal care.

I take the role of a Mother Companion which provides dedicated support and nurturing of a woman or birthing person from any stage in pregnancy, throughout labour and childbirth and for the first 8 weeks of parenthood to help them adapt to their new role.

How I support the charity

The women and families we support are of migrant, refugee or asylum seeker status who do not have birth support or community around them. As a mother companion I provide:

Emotional Support: Space to un-pack ideas, concerns and wishes. Listening, giving encouragement, reassurance, and being a consistent physical & nurturing presence.

Physical Support: Helping with comfort measures, breath work, massage, relaxation, and guidance with infant feeding & settling.

Information Support: Sharing information, explanations and non-medical advice, guidance on NHS care, and signposting to partner agencies.

Advocacy: Facilitating communication between the people we support and care providers so that they can make informed choices. Discussing rights & entitlements in pregnancy.

Where relevant, support for a Mother’s Partner: Offering encouragement, reassurance & guidance on how to support the mother, their infant and themselves.

How volunteering has helped my career

I have been working with small teams of doullas and midwives in a capacity that holds space as a professional friend which, being different from the more clinical and investigatory role of a midwife, provides greater insights into making connections with women and families from all different cultures and backgrounds. It is incredibly inspiring.

I am building knowledge of different cultural practices and ways of being, as well as this I am building different communication skills. There is often a language barrier so learning to trust in facial expressions and body movements and showing care and compassion in this way has been great and I feel I make a deep connection with those I work with.

I am continuing to volunteer with Project Mama ongoing, taking part in training days and will do my specialist placement with them too. I plan to take my midwifery work into a global setting in the future and hope to transfer my skills to working with pregnant women in crisis situations.

How my degree will take me from volunteer to qualified medic on refugee border crossings

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Lily Stephenson. Paramedic Science student, tells her volunteering journey

I became a student paramedic after working with volunteer medics on the shores of Greece at emergency boat landings. I spent five years volunteering with refugees and asylum seekers trapped at the borders in Greece, Lebanon, Serbia, Italy and France before returning to Bristol to study. I decided to help out with a local project which supported refugees; I felt that I would have a good understanding of the dangerous journeys they may have experienced to get here and wanted to help with integration.

I started volunteering at ‘Welcome Wednesdays Extra’ once a week in the middle of the lockdown. It is a well established project, run by Creative Youth Network, that supports newly arrived young asylum seekers and refugees. Most of the participants are between 15-19 and live in emergency homeless shelters or foster care.

The sessions offer a chance to meet other young people, practice English, play games, do art and crafts, cook and eat nutritious food and access a lawyer. I learnt Arabic in Lebanon so I help with translation which enables the young people to access the service and feel welcome. Generally I support the participants emotionally, encourage them to make use of the space and make friends, organise activities and games and help with special events such as the Eid feast and the Christmas party.

Many young people arrive traumatized and unable to trust people, but gradually we build relationships and I help them feel safe and connected in the UK.
Sharing with staff my experience and understanding of refugee issues enabled staff to treat the young people in a trauma-informed way to understand their behaviour. I brought culturally appropriate ideas to the group with an understanding of their needs and the importance of keeping a connection with their home. Many arrived during lockdown so we tried to reduce social isolation and help them stay positive. The young people grew in confidence and this impacted their ability to become independent and manage their lives.

I have learnt many things from the amazing young people who attend the session. They inspire me everyday with their resilience and strength. Many of them are unaccompanied, living in terrible accommodation, homesick and traumatized, yet manage to stay positive. They are so dedicated to education that it reminds me how lucky I am to be at university in a safe country.

The young people have also taught me how to play pool and table tennis (although they still win every time!). I have learnt traditional Afghan dancing (although I am very bad at it!). I have learnt about the rich culture and diversity of Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and other countries, and also the terrible atrocities people have lived through.

I learnt about the challenges and opportunities for newly arrived refugees in Bristol. I felt proud to be part of a community that supports refugees and advocates for vulnerable young people. I have learnt about referral routes and helped to signpost onward to other services.

I built my confidence in speaking Arabic and now see how useful it can be in Bristol. I helped send texts in Arabic to new participants and ensured documents were accessible in numerous languages. I even learnt some Pashtu from playing board games!

I organised new activities such as card making, herbal medicine making and badge making. This improved my group work and leadership skills. I discussed with my manager the need for staff training surrounding asylum law and services for refugees in Bristol, which was then organised. I hope this improved the service for young people.

I am hoping to start doing 1-1 work with one of the most vulnerable participants who I built rapport with. He speaks Arabic and needs extra help with his mental health and well being. I hope to carry on volunteering there for the duration of my course, and return to Lebanon when I qualify to work on the Syrian border as a medic supporting the refugee community.

Volunteering has been the first step of my career path in teaching

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Chloe Henderson, Art and Writing student, finds her inspiration from young people in Bristol

I am extremely committed to helping instil confidence in young people and inspiring them to believe in their goals is the most rewarding thing.

In the November of 2020, I discovered Action Tutoring through the University’s volunteering section on the website. I completed an application and attended roughly 7 hours of training, covering safeguarding and structuring lessons etc.

As an English tutor, my role is to motivate, support and engage young people in their reading comprehension, spelling, creative writing and confidence. I have worked with year 7s and 11s and have taught 1- 3 pupils at a time.

Each week I tutor a group of pupils for an hour. I have a workbook that contains key resources and the learning objectives for each year group and what they need to be focusing on in order to pass their GCSEs or SATs. Each week I prepare warm-up activities that recap on the previous lesson and go over any elements they are struggling with. Then I carry on with the rest of the lesson and also give time for the pupils to share their thoughts and encourage them to work both independently and as a team.

My work for the charity has been greatly appreciated as they have really struggled to find volunteers to match the increase in demand, due to Covid. It’s great to help the charity to continue to do its amazing work.

During the pandemic, a lot of young people have lacked valuable in-person lessons and many families have simultaneously been under unexpected financial stress. Action Tutoring gives extra support to students who are on pupil premium. This is something I resonated with as having a younger sister of a similar age I can understand that the lack of in-person time in school has not only had an effect on pupil’s learning but also their confidence in subjects. The first occasion where I realised the impact we had was last year when I was tutoring a Year 11 student, at the end of the term I had been tutoring him he thanked me and told me he felt confident about his exam. This experience has now inspired me to become a teacher myself as I understand the impact of inspiring and helping young people.

Image courtesy of Action Tutoring

In January 2021, when I first started I was extremely nervous and I felt quite inadequate as when completing our training most of the other volunteers were much older and were ex-teachers/tutors. The first pupil I taught online due to school closures. This was daunting and in retrospect having experienced in-person tutoring, tutoring online was much harder and was quite a jump in the deep end considering I did not have any experience in this field. However, having joined in the deep end in a new field I was quickly able to build up confidence with each session I ran.

Knowledge wise, I have enriched my understanding of curriculums and exam criteria for the different Key stages in order to deliver the most successful and rewarding lessons ensuring I increase their chances of getting the grades they can achieve. Additionally, I have been able to expand my skills in lesson planning and assessing the success of a lesson, so I can continue to improve for my students.

I am constantly using my own initiative and creativity to come up with ideas that keep the lesson both engaging and rewarding for the students. For example, creating mindmaps, drawing visualisation of characters in books and having group discussions on books we have all been reading.

As this volunteering experience has been so rewarding and insightful to the world of teaching I have now decided that I would love to become an Art teacher. Volunteering has been the first step of my career path and since I have volunteered to do Art days at primary schools. I gained work experience both as an English and Art teacher at The Cotswold secondary school. Volunteering started my journey and gave me the confidence to seek work experience and other opportunities, so much so that I have been confirmed a place to do my Art and Design PGCE at UWE this September.

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