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!

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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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Cake!

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!

 

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Sophie

Dealing with rejection (it’s not as bad as it sounds!)

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Recently I had to deal with the fact that I will not be going on to work for a £22k graduate job after interviewing (*sob*), but I’ve learnt that it’s totally fine. The feeling when you find out is, admittedly, difficult at first, and it’s hard not to think that all of the preparation was for nothing. After a bit of self-reflection, I’ve learnt that (1) it’s okay to not be okay about something, and (2) whatever the outcome of something, you can grow from it.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Emma Blakey at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (Twitter: @EmBlakey), who is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology here at Sheffield. She reminded me that rejection is a common part of life, and it’s completely normal to experience it throughout your student life and career. To prove it, she asked us to google ‘CV of failures’ – a professor at Princeton, Johannes Haushofer, had started a movement by uploading a CV documenting his failures throughout his academic career. It’s actually incredibly inspiring to see a successful professor list failures and be proud of them, because otherwise, you wouldn’t be where you are today. An excellent quote can be taken from Johanne’s document: “Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible”.

When everyone else around you seems to be getting on so well with their lives, completing milestone after milestone, it’s difficult to see the underlying failures that we’ve all been through. The failures often outweigh the successes, but it’s only the successes that shine through. However, it’s important to be proud of what you’ve been through, and to acknowledge what you’ve gained from failing, or being rejected.

I left the interview knowing I wasn’t going to get it. Perhaps in my head I had prepared for the blow, but either way, rejection does not have to set you back. What did I learn? I learnt that working with children is probably not the right path for me, and I learnt that (maybe) performing a role-play isn’t a great representation of what I can actually do. I learnt that interviews are not good on the hottest day of the year so far and I learnt that it doesn’t matter if your hand is clammy when shaking the interviewers hand. I also learnt that applying for jobs in the midst of completing a Masters course and having two part-time jobs is probably not the best thing for me right now – I will have time to do it eventually!

Rejection is hard, but everyone goes through it in all walks of life. All we can do is reflect on it (no matter how trivial the reflection may be, as above!), and be kind to everyone!

Posted in Extracurricular, Written by Valerie

Extra-Curricular Activities.

A great way to gain valuable work experience, increase your skills and improve your general well being, is to get involved in activities outside of your course.

There are numerous activities you can do and if you are looking to gain specific job-related skills you can tailor the activity, so that you are getting the experience you need. There are lots of opportunities at the university to help you get the most out of your time here. which will also help you gain the experience you will need for your future career. You could join a society or club, sit on a committee, become a mentor or ambassador, or volunteer. These are all ways to enrich your CV, get valuable work experience – and provide you with a reference!

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Societies and Committees.

Joining a society or committee can be an enjoyable experience that will help you meet new people and learn new skills. If you take a position on a committee you will receive training, gain experience of managing projects, working as part of a team and get recognition on your HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report).

Mentoring.

There are various mentoring programmes within the university that you could get involved in. You could be a mentor within your department or you could be mentor in one of the schools that the university works with. Working on these programmes enables you to develop transferable skills whilst contributing positively to the lives of local pupils. Mentoring is also HEAR accredited.

You can volunteer to be a mentor or you could apply to be a part time paid mentor, more information here: Programme website for more information

Volunteering.

There are lots of volunteering opportunities in Sheffield and the Students Union has an office that deals specifically with volunteering opportunities. You can volunteer to help on projects within the university or the wider Sheffield community. Whether you’re looking to gain experience to help you with your future career or you just want to get involved, there will be something for you! Find out more here: www.sheffieldvolunteering.com

Twice a year the Students Union run “Give It A Go” activities. These sessions offer a taster of volunteering and a chance to benefit the local community. This is a great opportunity to try different things out and find the right one for you. They are brilliant for your physical and mental health, a great chance to meet new people and offer something exciting to boost your CV! 

You can find more information on “Give it a Go” on the Students Union website, here: https://su.sheffield.ac.uk/

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Posted in student life, Written by Katie

Uni ‘Bucket List’

Uni is now coming to an end for myself and many other students in their final year and this comes with many regrets. I spent my time at university focused on my degree, part-time work and extra-curricular stuff that related to my course. This means I missed out on some of the most popular things to do in Sheffield but I am going to put that right. This is my university ‘bucket list’ which will hopefully give you some inspiration to create your own. You don’t even need to be a final year student to do this!

Theatre

Sheffield has the Lyceum and Crucible which is the largest theatre complex outside of London. They do £5 student tickets and I have been wanting to go for a long time but my friends refused to see Legally Blonde with me last year. I’m intending to go and see the Cinderella ballet.

Theatre

Alpacas

I heard about the alpaca farm back in first year and never made the time to go. I’ve already scheduled a weekend in may when I will go to the alpaca farm.

Alpaca

Peak District

The peak district is so close to the university and I drive through it every time I go home yet I only ever stopped to take an Instagram. I’ll definitely spend some time taking a hike in the peak district and there are even some pubs and tea shops I’ve driven past to stop for lunch.

Peaks

Winter Gardens

I’ve walked through winter gardens but never spent any time in there. I want to spend some time looking through the shops and actually looking at the plants rather than walking through in a rush when I’ve agreed to meet friends. They have over 2500 plants from all over the world.

winter garden

Weston Park Museum

Like most of you reading this post, I walk past Weston Park every day. Sometimes I walk through it to get to Bartolome House. The first time I walked through in first year I saw the museum but I have never actually gone in. Their current exhibition is called ‘Changing Lives: 200 Years of People and Protest in Sheffield’ which sounds interesting.

Museum

Steam Yard

I recently admitted to my housemates that I’ve never been to any of the cafes in Sheffield with the exception of Café Nero, Costa and Coffee Revolution. They insisted we all go for coffee and cake at Alyssum and I realised how much I’ve been missing out on. We have made a pact to go to a new café each week for the last half of this semester.

Steam Yard

Posted in All things 301, Written by Katie

British Conference of Undergraduate Research

You may have seen a lot of references to BCUR on our twitter page recently and this blog will explain why. This year, the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) is coming to Sheffield. I hadn’t heard of BCUR before this year but it is a fantastic scheme and I would encourage other students to take part. I’ve created this blog to answer the 5w’s in the hope that you will consider applying next year.

Research

Who can take part in BCUR?

Undergraduate students in any discipline taught in Higher Education can share their work in BCUR.

What is BCUR?

It is a conference to promote undergraduate research in all disciplines so no matter what you study, you can take part. Your course may have opportunities to develop your own research which you could use. Our 301 Intern Sophie submitted her undergraduate dissertation and you could do the same if you have a dissertation. This is also a slightly smaller commitment than the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) scheme which takes place over the summer for penultimate year students. Therefore, BCUR is a better alternative if you have an internship planned over the summer.

Where is it and where can I find out more?

The conference takes place in a different university each year. This year is Sheffield University but next year it will be at the University of South Wales. BCUR have their own website with lots of information: http://www.bcur.org/

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When is it?

BCUR takes place in April each year. This week is BCUR here in Sheffield and next year it will be 15th and 16th April.

Why should I apply?

Undergraduate research is always an interesting thing to talk about in job interviews and looks impressive on your CV. It also means you can contribute to the research in your discipline whatever that may be. It is also an opportunity to share your work on a national scale and to interact with other students.

 

 

Posted in Intern advice, Uni work, Written by Katie

Making the most of Easter!

Easter has come both too early (as exams are around the corner) and too late (as we all need a good break)! This is the time to start preparing for exams and having some well-deserved relaxation. This guide will help you make the most of your break.

Come into 301!

Okay, this may not be the first thing on your list over Easter but trust me it is a good tip. We have handouts on our carousel in reception for all things study skills including exam revision planning, mind maps and exam technique.

Library

Create a Balance

We have 3 weeks off over Easter so I try to plan my time so that I take one week off, one week to catch up on work and one week to get ahead and prepare for exams.

Time off

This semester has been tough with the stress of the strikes and extra-curricular activities so you need to take some time off! This can be easier said than done but you don’t want to burn out before exams hit, especially considering these are final exams for a lot of us. See your family and take long walks with your dog. Appreciate the little things before having to get back into the swing of university.

*I had to include more than one photo because these dogs are too cute!

Catch Up

I mean this in many ways: catch up on sleep and catch up with friends and family but most importantly catch up with any missed classes. I must admit, I’m a typical student and fall into the trap of not attending lectures whilst telling myself I’ll catch up tomorrow (which I never do). Then I skip other classes to catch up with my missed classes. It now means I have around 12 hours of lecture recordings to catch up on. You don’t want to start the next half of the semester with last semesters work hanging over you so do it now.

Get Ahead

This is the perfect opportunity to also get ahead for next semester and ensure you have done the reading in advance. This will really take the pressure off when you are doing exam revision and is my top tip for the Easter break! Be careful not to over-do it. You also need to follow my tip above about taking a break to avoid burning out.

exams

Revision Plans

Get a solid plan in place as soon as possible for revision because in the Summer exams come around very quickly once teaching has ended. You can use getrevising.com to make a study planner where you enter each module along with all of your commitments and it makes a plan for you. If you have any other time available, make sure to start making revision resources.  This can be in the form of revision cards, mind maps or whatever works best for you.