Posted in Written by Sophie

My experience of BCUR (British Conference of Undergraduate Research)

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Although it is a belated response, now I am on my last regular shift ever at 301 (*sob*) I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the experience I had of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR – we pronounce this ‘beaker’!), both behind the scenes and as a delegate.

Working at 301 has meant I witnessed the amount of organisation and effort it took to put the conference together and although I wasn’t directly involved in the organisation process, I knew how hard everyone worked to make it run as smoothly as possible (and it paid off!).

As a delegate and student of Sheffield, I decided to be a volunteer for the conference on one of the days so that the price of the ticket could be waived (very grateful for this – coming from a poor student!) but also so I could gain volunteering experience for my CV. I volunteered on the Friday (13th April) and was very happy to be showing everyone where they needed to go and contribute to the smooth running of the conference. It also meant that the students presenting were aided in where they needed to be, and helped their nerves as a result because no one wants to be late to their presentation. I also experienced some of the students’ presentations, and it was excellent to see a range of academic research presented in each room. I think this opens students up to research areas they had never thought of before, and I definitely learned some new things (I saw a lot of black hole presentations – spooky!).

As a delegate myself, I was very nervous to be presenting. I had decided to present a poster during the lunch period, so that others could walk around and have an informal chat with me about my undergraduate dissertation. I was very surprised to hear that people had seen my research title on the programme and had come to see my presentation specially! The conference gave me a real confidence boost, and allowed me to express my research in a clear and succinct manner, ensuring that students of other disciplines understood what I was saying.

I want to say a huge thank you to 301, for not only being the best managers ever, but for putting on a well-organised, collaborative and friendly conference. I will always remember these two days – especially as it might be the beginnings of a career in academia!

Posted in Written by Stefana

All About SALT (Student Associate in Learning and Teaching)

For the past two years I have been part of the SALT Engineering team. The Student Associates in Learning and Teaching (SALT) are students working together on a project proposed by the Faculty in order to improve students’ learning experience while at the University.

There are 6 faculty based teams (Arts and Humanities, Engineering, Science, Social Science A and B, and Medicine, Dentistry and Health) and 2 institutional teams (301 and Library). Each team is composed of students from that Faculty, while the institutions teams have members from different faculties. The teams work together with 2 academics on the proposed projects in order to improve learning and teaching techniques in the university.

In the academic year 2016 – 2017 I was a SALT member of the Engineering Team working on improving the internationalisation. I enjoyed working together with students and staff members on achieving our initial goals. This year I was the Lead SALT of the Engineering team. The project was about the Sheffield Graduate Engineering Attributes. We were interested in students’ opinion on what skills an Engineering student should have. We also investigated if the current attributes are misinterpreted by the students. After conducting a survey and multiple focus groups, we managed to provide the faculty with important information about how the Sheffield Graduate Engineering Attributes can be improved.

I have really enjoyed my roles as a regular and Lead SALT. It is a very good experience for students to gain more skills such as team working, communication and presentation skills. You can find out more about SALT and their job opportunities here.

Posted in student life, Uni work, Written by Katie

What I learnt coming back from Year Abroad

Last year I did my year abroad in Slovenia. I had a blast, travelled and found I have a huge interest in International Law (the first time I’d found an area of law I want to practice in). Coming back to Sheffield was challenging but here are the things I learnt coming back from the experience.

I’m grown up

Year abroad was easy for me and coming back to Sheffield was not fun. Not only was the work harder but I felt a lack of support and all of my friends had graduated. I had to find my way back into student life and I found that actually I’d finally left the party stage of my life and was ready to enter the hard work stage.

Grown up

The library facilities here are second to none!

I was literally gobsmacked when the librarian told us we can’t access online books and journals from home. There was a way to take them home, which they were very proud of, you could download 6 pages of the journal at a time and put it on your USB stick. I was unaware I’d transported back to the 2008. I actually used StarPlus rather than the university library on the odd occasion I needed to research. They also only have library opening hours of 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. I’m still undecided if this is a good thing because it creates a work-life balance or a bad thing because you can’t study when you want to.

Uni in Sheffield is DIFFICULT

So it will be the case for most of you that like me, you are not on track for a first- and if you are I applaud you. I found it difficult knowing that actually, I’m not top of the class anymore when I have been my entire life. However, when studying abroad you actually realise how tough it is studying in Sheffield. On my year abroad I got between 80-100% in every exam I took yet in Sheffield my highest grade had been 66.

Hard work

Other Universities are more SPLD (Specific Learning Difficulty) friendly

I have dyslexia and always thought Sheffield were good with SPLDs as I have a dyslexia tutor at the university. However, I have had a few issues at Sheffield and haven’t always felt fully supported. All of my modules are 100% exam and although I did have the option to do some coursework modules, I didn’t actually think they were interesting modules. Abroad, they were very accommodating. No dyslexia assessment was needed they just allowed me the adjustments I needed. Many of my exams were oral which was much better for me and some were more coursework based. The majority of my exams didn’t feel like memory tests like they do in Sheffield which is ideal as people with dyslexia struggle with memory.

Our degree is more valuable

Okay so it’s harder, and that sounds like we are getting a bad deal. After all we are paying £9000 a year for a harder course. But it is actually a good thing. Other universities teach their students everything they need to know for the exam in lectures but we do independent research. This is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, we know how to find information. One of my friends was shocked when I suggested she looking in a book to understand a particularly challenging topic. In Sheffield that is standard practice. Secondly, we can go into a good job without a masters. In France for example, they do their undergraduate law degree followed by 2 masters degrees to get to the same level I’m at now.

Posted in All things 301, Written by Ellie

Being a 301 Intern is the Best Job I have had at Uni!

So there are currently four 301 Intern positions open for next year, and I’m sure that means that there are plenty of people looking at our blog to get some extra info about the role. Well, you have come to the right place, because I am going to share with you why this role is the best role I have undertaken during my three years at uni.

301 is a great environment.

It usually helps to like where you work and like the people that work there too! Well, I haven’t worked in a nicer place. Everybody here is friendly, driven and consequently, fantastic to work with. You can really tell that the people at 301 love what they do, which is something crucial to an environment where you enjoy working!

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In correlation to my first point, there always seems to be cake, for all to share, in the office! Doesn’t get much better than that, eh?

You get to engage with students and staff.

Throughout this role, you engage with many different people from the university, many of whom you would likely not have contact with usually! The role gives you the satisfaction that you are a part of a department that really makes a difference to the people that use it.

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You learn skills that employers are looking for.

Whilst working here you learn: customer service, organisational, communication, and administrative skills. These skills are so helpful when looking for a full time job after graduation, and gaining experience in them whilst at uni can make you a top candidate.

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You can achieve the Academic Skills Certificate

This is a HEAR recognised award that you can achieve by attending four workshops. The 301 Academic Skills Certificate acknowledges your commitment to enhancing your academic and employability skills and personal development.

Good hours

Either taking on 2 x 3 hour shifts, or 1 x 4 hour shift per week means you are earning money, but not taking time out of your studies to do so!

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I cannot recommend highly enough applying for these positions, because there is not one negative aspect of the intern role!

Posted in Extracurricular, student life, Uncategorized, Uni work, Written by Britt

Final Year Reflections

So, next week is my last official week of teaching, which means that I am very nearly at the end of my degree. I have no idea where these past three years have gone! Alas, all good things must come to an end, and with that in mind I’ve recently been doing a lot of reflecting upon my time here at Sheffield and what I’ve learnt during it.

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I (somehow) now know what I want to do:

I was accepted onto the Teach First programme to teach Secondary English last summer (which seems like a lifetime ago!), starting this September. I’ve always thought about teaching but the opportunities I’ve had available to me over the course of my degree, for example various teaching/tutoring volunteer projects, have shown me that teaching is what I really want to do. That said, even if you’re still unsure about what direction you want to go in, then do not panic! You don’t have to know what you want to do right now – I’ve just been a bit lucky, I think.

I’ve met some amazing people:

The people I’ve met during my degree  have honestly made my uni experience. As cheesy as it sounds, I don’t think I would have been able to get through the difficult times without them! I’ve made it a personal goal of mine to make sure that I don’t lose touch with the friends I’ve made as they’re some of the best people I’ve ever met.

I’ve learnt how to be a pro multi-tasker:

I’ve somehow managed to juggle three part-time jobs this year alongside a full-time English Literature degree. People think I’m literally insane, however I’ve actually quite enjoyed the busy days. I think it’s taught me that I am able to handle quite a lot when I need to but it has also proved that resting and having days where you do absolutely nothing is equally as important!

These are just a few of my key reflections that I’ve had over the last few weeks. If you sit and think about yours, I’m sure you’ll see that you’ve learnt far more than what you realise!