Sciences Futures 2020 : Post Event Highlights (Part 1)

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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.

Dr Sabrina Roberts at Science Futures 2020

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)

Solomia Boretska at Science Futures 2020

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.

Exhibition

Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Solomia Boretska and Dr Amara Anyogu (Co-founder, Aspiring Professionals Hub & Academic) at Science Futures 2020

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)

Sandwich Placements and Internships: Getting to Know the Application Process

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On the 23rd of October at the very popular Department of Applied Science Monthly Seminar, Dr. Heather Macdonald (Placement co-ordinator), Dr Shona Nelson (Summer Internships Scheme) and Helen Moore-Elly (UWE Careers coach) discussed the value of placement and summer internships schemes and how to go about applying for them.

Placements and summer internships are a great way to enhance your CV and hence increase your chances for a job. These opportunities can be found locally, nationally and globally so you can expect to have a wide range of experiences to choose from. As a student searching for a placement or summer internship, there are a few things that you should consider before you start this venture.

Know what you want

Before you even start looking for placement, you should first think about what you want, i.e. your career aspirations. This is what most students tend to skip or forget when searching for a placement or summer internship. Whilst it is important to get an opportunity, it is more important to gain experience that is relevant to the career you aspire to work in.

Most students are still on a self-discovery journey and are trying to figure out what they want to do when they grow up (like these students you may be one of them). This can make it quite hard to know what placement opportunities you should choose over others. However, with some reflection and guidance from peers and mentors, you can be sure to find an opportunity relevant to what you want to do.

During her “Find your way” presentation, Helen Moore-Elly did an amazing job encouraging students to take time to reflect on who they are and what their interests are. By doing this, students will have more direction as to which placement or summer internship opportunities they should be applying for. For more advice, check out the Careers toolkit on the UWE InfoHub to find the career that is best for you.

Where to find opportunities

Placement and summer internships can often seem out of reach; despite this, if you know what you are looking for and where to look, you can be sure to find an opportunity relevant to you!

There are many different online platforms which advertise various placements and summer internships. These platforms include:

  • InfoHub: UWE’s InfoHub is a great place to start your search. With specialised search engine tools, you can narrow opportunities down to those which are relevant and appealing to you. UWE Volunteering is another great way to enhance your CV so be sure to look out for these during your search.
  • Prospects:  this site is often used to read up job profiles (as one does when trying to understand what a job will entail). In addition to this, you can also search for placement and summer internship opportunities.
  • Indeed: this site is not only for job hunting, as many students do when job hunting, it is also a great place to find a placement or summer internship.
  • Rate my placement: this is a great place for hunting for various placement or summer internship opportunities, with reviews from previous placement workers and where top employers are highlighted.
  • Student ladder: this site has a great search engine which helps you to narrow your search right down to what year of study you are in (even graduate opportunities), helping you find the most suitable opportunity.

Tips on how to use search tools:

  1. If present, use the navigation menu to select relevant categories (i.e. science) to help narrow down your search results to what you want.
  2. Type in key words that are relevant to what you would like to do. For example, if you are desiring to work in a laboratory as a biomedical scientist, you should use terms like “science”, “biomedical science”.
  3. Start with broad search terms (see examples above) and then get more specific, such as a specific job role (i.e. “laboratory technician”) to give you more opportunities to choose from at first and then narrow down to see if you can find a more relevant opportunity.

Many of these websites also include advice on how to be a successful applicant so be sure to read their blog posts and articles for advice and guidance. Signing up to their newsletters will also be useful to receive alerts when new opportunities are advertised.

If you have a company in mind, you should also consider approaching them directly and enquire about the possibility placement or summer internships. On the other hand, if you are unable to find a relevant opportunity for you, speak to the Department of Applied Sciences employability team or the UWE Careers and Employability team for advice.

NB: Many placement opportunities have deadlines and so it is important for you to start searching and preparing for the application and interview process as early as you can!

Expand your horizon

When students have an idea of what they want to do in the future, the search can become narrowed down very quickly. Whilst it is good to focus on specific subjects or job titles, it is also important to stay open minded to other relevant opportunities available. You also want to keep your budget in mind as depending on the placement location (for example when going global), you will need to consider how you will be funded/ fund yourself.

Placements can range from large to small (i.e. less well-known) companies/ organisations and so be aware that larger ones might be more competitive than smaller ones. When applying for opportunities, broaden the types and sizes of companies/ organisations you apply for to increase your chances of success. Global opportunities are a great way to gain experience whilst exploring a new environment and of course having fun in your new adventure!

Curriculum Vitae

Before you start your applications, ensure your CV is up to date and ready to show employers. Your CV is your chance to tell employers all about yourself, show them what you have to offer and present yourself as a successful candidate for the placement or summer internship you are applying for.

On your CV, it is important to include all relevant work experience and skills that match the opportunities you are applying for. Make sure to research into how to create a successful CV and attend CV workshops and drop-in sessions facilitated by the Careers team for feedback etc.

You can do it! Have confidence in yourself

Finally, as expressed by Dr. Heather Macdonald, it is more than possible to gain a placement or summer internship as you are more than capable of doing so!

Set your goals, do your research and go for it! Never give up and you are sure to find an opportunity relevant to what you want to do and so no matter how long it takes you (even up to the induction day of your next year at university), don’t give up!

Getting placement opportunities can seem like a daunting task with so many people to compete against and sometimes long processes to go through. Nevertheless, the wait is certainly worth it and you can definitely do it! Know who you are, what you want to do and where you want to go. Finally, have confidence and go for opportunities that will help you reach your goals.

Upcoming Events

Next DAS Monthly Employability Workshop: Wednesday 4 December 2019

Science Futures Fair – Wednesday 22 January 2020