Category Archives: Work Experience

Posts on all things work experience, placements and internships related. Including tips and advice from other Leeds students and graduates who have successfully secured opportunities.

Placement year at p53 – the highs and lows of working in Singapore

 Siri Place is in her final year of  a BSc Medical Biochemistry degree following the completion of a placement year at P53 Lab in Singapore.  Her story shows that although it is not easy to find a placement year, persistence, hard work and taking chances can pay off!

Applying for placement

The job hunt for placements was long, tedious and hard. It began in freshers week and consumed my life until I finally gave up in March. I had applied for everything under the sun: from R&D to supply chain to marketing and I was constantly being rejected at the final stages of each role. I was fed up of video interviews and assessments and decided it was time to focus on revision and my looming deadlines.

That was until I randomly stumbled across p53 Lab in Singapore. The prospective student had dropped out last minute and I’d overheard the lab were looking for someone to take their place. It was May, a week before summer exams were about to start and I remember sitting in the library, finding any way to distract myself revision.

Spontaneously, I sent off my CV with a small cover letter and heard back immediately – they wanted a skype interview the following day, but because of the time difference, it meant waking up at 6.30 for a 7am call.

I had felt fairly unprepared, not expecting a reply so fast, and so spent the rest of my day researching around Singapore, p53 and what to expect in a lab-based interview. The interview lasted a total of 15 minutes and I was offered the job there and then; it seemed they were impressed by my CV and initiative to apply.

It just shows that some jobs can be found purely by luck- by being in the right place at the right time- had I not overheard the conversation, I would not have known to apply!  All the hard work and rejection had finally paid off.

Moving to Singapore

I was unbelievably nervous to start a new job, let alone move 13 hours away from all my friends and family. Luckily, I had known the other student who accepted the same placement so we moved out together and found ourselves a lovely condo to live in. It seemed too good to be true; the complex had a pool, gym and was close to the lab.

However, moving abroad was not all fun and games – it involved a lot of medical exams, money and copious amounts of paperwork to fill in. There was some homesickness being so far from home, but we can both look back and say it was truly worth it.

Working in the lab

I had no experience in a research lab, other than from labs at uni, and so my first few months involved learning, reading and more learning. Nevertheless, my team were super supportive and I quickly picked up the key skills. I was even crowned the ‘queen of Western blots’.

Working in a lab can be tedious, long hours and sometimes involve a lot of waiting. It can also mean messing up a week’s worth of experiments if you don’t concentrate 100%.

But it was also very sociable and fun. I enjoyed the work I was doing and was invested in my project. I even got the opportunity to attend a two-day conference on peptides and proteins, which was largely insightful and a great networking opportunity.

Living in Singapore

It wasn’t all hard work in the lab. My weekends consisted of expensive brunches, beach clubs and even a few weekends abroad. With Malaysia and Thailand next door, I visited several countries and even spent my 21st in Bali with some friends.

Singapore is a diverse country and full of expats so I was never short of friends. The lifestyle was unforgettable – the work party was even on a yacht!

Reflections and tips

Reflecting on my experience, I think it’s really important to not give up and to stay positive. I was lucky enough to have ‘stumbled’ upon this opportunity, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard work to get there.

Don’t be disheartened, and take every opportunity you can get. If you can get the chance to work abroad, I couldn’t recommend it enough. Even just showing you moved away and adapted to new cultures is a great thing to put on your CV and will make you stand out to employers.

I developed an abundance of transferable skills at p53Lab and looking back, I feel as though I am at a great advantage not only in applying for graduate roles but also in final year.

I am now looking for opportunities move back to Singapore after graduation as I enjoyed my year there so much!

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Student volunteering – making a difference in the Leeds community

Second year University of Leeds Music student Rory Heron discovered the charity People in Action through the University Union’s Volunteering Fair in his first year and now works as a support worker.

Rory Heron (left) with Ruben Martini

 

 

Read how his interest in music and community work has led him to setting up a music project with People in Action and support from LUUMIC Leeds University Union Music Impact in the Community 

 

The charity- People in Action

I found out about People in Action and the support they provide for people with learning disabilities and autism at the University of Leeds volunteering fair. I decided to volunteer for this charity because I was eager to make a difference in the Leeds community during my time studying music at university, and I’ve always been interested in improving the quality of life of people with learning disabilities.

Volunteer to paid support worker

After engaging in voluntary work at various community groups, I was offered a paid role as a one-to-one support worker for an individual with a learning disability who was passionate about music and wanted to start a band. I assisted them in the process of communicating with some of his peers about starting a band, and once we found some people who were interested, we began meeting up and creating music together using the facilities at the university’s School of Music. The band were given opportunities to perform live at events that People in Action were organising, such as the Leeds Young Talent Show. The band received such a positive response from these performances, inspiring others to not let their learning disabilities get in the way of them pursuing their dreams.

Setting up a music project

It then occurred to me that I could set up my own community music project with People in Action that would allow young adults with learning disabilities to collaborate and make music together in a fun and relaxed environment. I realised that I could get volunteers from LUUMIC Leeds University Union Music Impact in the Community to help run the sessions, through my position on the committee. I discussed the details of the project with the People in Action office staff, university staff members and the LUUMIC committee about setting up the project. In September 2018, the project was officially up and running every other Sunday using the School of Music’s ensemble rooms. Since then, I have been recording some of the music created during the sessions and uploading them to YouTube as the Sunday Band Project

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How I got my placement: Clinical Psychology, Fieldhead Hospital

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Bethany Temple studies BSc Psychology (Industrial), and has been on her placement with Fieldhead Hospital’s Bretton Centre in Wakefield for eight months.

Getting my placement

To be honest, I was completing application after application in the hope of finding some kind of experience within psychology, but at times they can feel like gold dust! I applied for this forensic psychology placement, not really knowing at all what forensic psychology was. I thought I was going to be some sort of criminal profiler; clearly I’ve watched too many crime series! I filled in their application, which I received through the psychology department, and sure enough got my first ever interview. I researched the hospital I would be based at before the interview, and came up with some questions about the types of therapy that are offered to service users. I also went to a mock interview at the careers centre, which I’d highly recommend. In the real interview, my enthusiasm for psychology clearly outshined my lack of knowledge on what clinical/ forensic psychology is, and I got a call the next day saying I’d been accepted!

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Volunteering with… Skelton Grange

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Ruth Trainor studies Sustainability and Environmental Management, and has been volunteering with TCV at Skelton Grange during her second year.

I am the proud owner of a badge that says ‘Ruth – Volunteer Leader’. I wear this every Wednesday – when lectures don’t get in the way – and spend that day in the woods and grounds of TCV Skelton Grange.

My Role

It’s a fairly awesome day, to be honest. I arrive at 9am, having cycled for about 40 minutes along the canal. The first order of business at Skelton is always a cup of tea, accompanied by a short catch up with the other volunteers and staff at the centre. Once the mugs are empty, we start setting up for the day.

Wednesdays are education days, so the activities run from around 11 to 2. These education days vary according to the season and the needs of the school, but all of them are essentially about familiarising the children with being outdoors and piquing their curiosity about the natural world.

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How I got my placement: Digital Marketing Assistant at the University of Leeds

dan-how-i-got-my-jobDan Rhodes is studying BA Digital Media at Leeds and is currently undertaking a placement year as a Digital Marketing Assistant within the University’s Facilities Directorate. He found his placement through the Leeds Internship Programme, and if you’re interested in doing his role next year, it’s currently being advertised here. Closing date is 25th March.

My role

I am currently on placement as a Digital Marketing Assistant within the Facilities Directorate at the University. The directorate is responsible for areas of the University that you don’t often think about as a student – Estates, Residences, Sustainability Services and the Commercial and Campus Support Services which include the sports facilities (SPA and The Edge), the catering team Great Food at Leeds (GFaL), conferencing (MEETinLEEDS), print (PCB), cleaning and security.

My role includes a wide range of exciting responsibilities for all of these areas. Continue reading

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How I got my placement: Student Engagement Intern at University of Leeds

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Charlotte (right) with colleague Laura (matching outfits optional!)

Charlotte is a final year Business Management student at Leeds, currently undertaking a part-time, term-time only placement with the Work Placement team at the University of Leeds, through the Leeds Internship Programme

I’m a final year Business Management student here at Leeds. I work with the Work Placement team in the Careers Centre as a Student Engagement Intern, a part-time term-time role working here on campus. My role gets me involved with lots of different projects, my favourite bits being co-ordinating some of the social media accounts and marketing efforts as well as helping out with events and other ad-hoc activities. Continue reading

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How I got my placement: Quality Management Assistant, University of Leeds

Grace (far left) with colleagues from Residential Services team, collecting the certificate for ISO9001 accreditation at BSI

Grace Harding is studying Sustainability & Environmental Management at Leeds and is currently undertaking a placement year with the University’s Residential Services team, through the Leeds Internship Programme.  This year’s campus internships are now being advertised; you can see all open campus internships on the University’s jobs site.

My placement

My role as Residential Services Quality Management Assistant is to help with the implementation/upkeep of the Residential Services BSI ISO 9001 Quality Management System. This involves various roles with a few being assisting on internal audits, document upkeep/control and helping train staff members on using our databases. Continue reading

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