Intern Journey: From Student to Staff at the University of Manchester

by YPU Admin on November 2, 2017. Tags: internship, Physics, STEM, and Students

Introduction

My name’s Jake and I went to school in a small sleepy town in North Wales, followed by sixth form where I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry A-levels.  After this I was accepted onto the Physics course at the University of Manchester, is one of the most exciting, friendly and liberal cities in the U.K. - a really exciting change compared to the slow pace of life in Wales!  After a jam-packed few years of study, work, fun and travel, I’ve fallen in love with Manchester and now work as a Student Recruitment and Widening Participation (SRWP) Intern at the University.

In depth…

I began university with absolutely no idea about what I wanted to do in terms of a career.  I knew that I liked science, helping people and travel, but there was no particular job that took my interest, so I decided to do an MPhys Physics degree as my science grades were good, I liked Brian Cox documentaries and the idea of academic research, as well as this Physics is a very well respected degree with broad career prospects.

I assumed that over the course of the following four years that I would have an epiphany moment – that everything would fall into place and I would exclaim ‘Eureka!  I’ve found my life’s passion!’, and start doggedly pursuing an exciting career to eventually become a world-leading researcher in an exciting and dynamic field.

To my dismay, this career revelation never occurred, and actually as my degree went on I became more and more unsure about a career in scientific research.  For my MPhys research, I investigated the effect of graphene upon bacteria, in the hope that one day graphene could be used in a new generation of antibiotics.  However, despite the amazing applications of this research I learnt that a career in research is not for me (at least not yet), as I’m not cut out for long hours in the lab and fiddling with computer codes.

But by all means doesn’t mean that my degree was a waste of time.  On the contrary, my time as a student was the best in my life – I’ve made fabulous life-long friends, gained extremely employable skills, travelled to amazing places, and my self-confidence has sky-rocketed.

One of the most important things that I’ve gained is that I’ve learnt much more about myself, and what I like and what I dislike.  I’ve discovered that I’m hugely passionate about science communication, helping people, and spreading public awareness about science, education, and social issues.  I also love working with people, using my creativity to blog and solve problems, and enjoy variety in my work.

I’ve recently began work as a Student Recruitment & Widening Participation Intern at the university and love it!  In this role, I coordinate the University’s Aspiring Student Society (UMASS), which helps people considering higher education to think about their options and gives application and career guidance.  I represent the University of Manchester at UCAS fairs, help organise Open Days, and give talks to young people to help them make more well-informed decisions about their futures.  I work with the public on a regular basis, every working hour is different and I feel proud working for such a prestigious institution for which social responsibility is one of their core values.  As term starts again soon I’m hoping to get back involved with science and LBGTQ+ outreach too!

I’ve got no idea what’ll I’ll do after my internship, but I’m sure as I carry on learning more, getting involved with more things and get to grips with the job, I’ll have a clearer idea of what my next step will be.

Going further…

http://www.umass.manchester.ac.uk/ : The University of Manchester Aspiring Students’ Society – a good resource for anyone who’s considering applying to any academic institution.

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/connect/teachers/students/secondary/widening-participation/ : The Widening Participation programmes at Manchester, which encourage students of all educational backgrounds to apply to Manchester.

http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/ : Manchester’s hugely popular annual science festival – a great opportunity to learn about different areas of science, its importance and impact.  You can also speak to world-leading scientists!

https://manchesterstudentblogs.wordpress.com/category/jake/ : The University of Manchester’s Student Blogs.  These give a valuable insight into university life and offer tips covering all parts of student life.

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