Science Futures returned in 2020 and this year’s event was by far the biggest and the best of the annual Department of Applied Sciences (DAS) employability programme at UWE Bristol. The event was focused on engaging students with opportunities for internships, placements and graduate employment and developing the next workforce generation of our society. During this event, students were given privileged opportunities to listen to experts (including DAS alumni and recent graduates) discuss their career journeys and experiences, engage with the employer exhibition and be present during various panel discussions.
The event was opened by Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, DAS Employability Leader, followed by the welcome address from the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, Dr Marc Griffiths. He did an excellent job of welcoming the guests, expressing his passion for being in the sciences and discussed the importance of employability to the University and the Faculty, and why students and delegates needed to take advantage of the opportunities at Science Futures 2020; this set the tone for the rest of the day.
First Keynote Speaker – Dr Sabrina Roberts, Senior Scientific Policy Officer, Food Standards Agency (UK)
The welcome address was followed by the keynote talk by Dr Sabrina Roberts, who delivered an incredible talk on ‘Managing GM Regulations in the UK: From a Bioscience Degree to Informing Global policy’ which included highlights of her career journey, dealing with disabilities, impostor syndrome and changing courses mid-way through her degree. The feedback from the students about her talk was great and they found her to be inspirational, and great to talk to where she shared her wealth of experience and nuggets of wisdom.
Some key points from her talk included:
- Finding a career that fits your passion: this is achieved by consistent self-development, a hard work ethic and commitment to your dreams, doing all that is required to reach them (from the careful selection of a dissertation topic and supervisor, to the development of your CV). But along this journey, as Dr Roberts pointed out, it is important to “have something else” – a hobby, fun activity etc., not only for personal fulfilment and happiness, but also as a way of standing out from the rest of the crowd, showing off your uniqueness to your potential future employers.
- Join a professional society: this can be a key component in accelerating your personal and career development in a number of ways.
- Networking and making new connections: it is important to identify people you can learn from and have as potential contacts for the future; this also brings the idea of creating and sharing your business cards ( yes, this is a thing!). Conferences often encompass insightful talks, presentations (providing you with a wider perspective of your chosen field), networking sessions where you would have opportunities to find a mentor (to help you get to where you want to be) – and the list goes on!
Finally, to close this talk, Dr Roberts emphasised on the importance of presenting yourself well at all times, in speech and deed!
Her final comments were “Climb to where you are happiest, but do not forget to reach down and help others up to where you are” and more importantly… “love what you do!”
Second Keynote Speaker – Solomia Boretska, CEO and Co-Founder of Tempo Market. Also, UWE and DAS graduate (2016)
The second keynote speaker was a recent UWE graduate Solomia Boretska who graduated from Biomedical Science in 2016 and is now the CEO and Co-Founder of Tempo Market. As a speaker, she was engaging, dynamic and had everyone glued to their seats. She spoke about her journey navigating through life in and out of science, struggling to find jobs and using that as her driver for learning how to code. Her company focuses on providing a rental, repair service for camping equipment, and as she describes on her LinkedIn page “Tempo is building the industrial shift to products as a service through product rentals”.
Solomia offered advice to students to:
- Chase people down and show them your passion: this bold act of chasing people down highlights the need for you to be audacious! This will help you stand out from the competition.
- Let your actions match the passion you are expressing: so, if you are showing interest in working for someone, be engaged in research and news around that area of interest i.e. go the extra mile; this will help you to be recognised as a candidate who is serious about what they want.
- For scientists and students struggling with the fear of rejection, Solomia suggests that you“think of a ‘no’ as a hypothesis – one that is to be tested rather than accepted as the absolute truth”. Hence, even if you receive a ‘no’, don’t give up there, work on what you need to do so that next time you yield a ‘yes’.
- Be open to new opportunities: sometimes, the door that you want does not open. However, that is not to say that there isn’t potentially a better opportunity that you may have not considered before, therefore, be open-minded to working in an unfamiliar field of work.
The students found Solomia Boretska to be a great example to learn from, her confidence, presentation and delivery. According to many students who heard her speak, she was inspirational.
This year’s Science Futures was a great opportunity for students and staff to engage the visiting exhibitors and to network with people from basic sciences to careers beyond the sciences. This was the biggest exhibition of the futures fair with near 50 exhibitors with top UK organisations including the Department of Education (Get Into Teaching), Environment Agency, Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT), Clinical Professionals, Society of Cosmetic Scientists, National Careers Service and the Intellectual Property Office.
The exhibitors also included programme leaders from different disciplines across UWE Bristol. The programmes included; MSc Biomedical Science, MSc Environmental Health, MSc Forensic Science, MSc Science Communication, MSc Physician Associate Studies, MSc Public Health, MSc Rehabilitation, and Secondary Science PGCE.
If you want to learn more about these programmes, you can click on any of the links provided. If you didn’t get a chance to network or attend – it’s not too late! Check out the ‘Careers Fair Plus app‘ to find out more about the employers and their details.
Upcoming article: Part 2!
Our next article will distill the discussions from the panel sessions at the Science futures 2020 which would be important for those seeking advice on which career routes to pursue… stay tuned!
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with others. Also, if you have an article or topic you would like to share with us, do contact us at ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk
Written by Dr Emmanuel Adukwu and Jessica Griffith
All images were taken by Kane Smith (Undergraduate student, Faculty of Environment and Technology, UWE Bristol)