Posted in Intern advice, Written by Amber

Useful things to do over the summer

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I can’t believe the year is finally over! With a long summer break stretched out ahead of me, I’m looking forward to some well deserved rest and relaxation!

However I do often find myself getting bored over the summer so I’ve come up with some ideas on how to use all this free time in a productive way to prepare myself for studying next year!

 

Find a job or work experience

Finding a job over the summer can massively reduce your stress levels next year if you can save up some money! This gives you more time to concentrate on your studies and more freedom to enjoy doing things with your friends.

A work experience or summer placement is also a really good idea, particularly if you are lacking in relevant experience to your degree. This could give you a taste of a certain area of work to help with your career plans if you are unsure, and can strengthen your application by providing relevant experience and a range of transferrable skills. Not only this but you are likely to meet new people who could come be useful for your future career plans!

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Reading

If you have been given a reading list for your next year of study then you should probably aim to buy these books during the summer if you can afford to, rather than at the last minute during freshers when you are already going to be busy. It may be useful to take some time to familiarise yourself with the content of your books, particularly if there is a subject which will be new to you.

In addition to recommended reading, you may want to read for pleasure during the summer. This is a really great way to relax, take a break from technology but also allows you to keep your mind sharp and stay in practice of concentrating and reading ready for the next semester. You may not have time to read for pleasure during the term time, or may not want to (I get sick of the sight of books during the semester!) – so summer is the perfect time to read at your leisure. Grab a book and sit in the garden with a nice cold drink.reading-seuss

Updating your CV

Not as interesting as reading, but updating your CV while you have free time in the summer can save you time when you need it at a later date. In addition to this, reading over and updating your CV provides you with a really great opportunity to reflect on the skills you have developed in the last academic year and look back on your experiences. You can use this reflection to consider what skills and experience you may still be lacking in, and concentrate on building on these areas next year!

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Create a LinkedIn profile

Creating a LinkedIn profile allows you to connect with professionals which allows you to keep in touch with lecturers, network with new people and showcase your own achievements. This could provide amazing opportunities and out of all the ideas listed here, is definitely the one that I need to get done over the summer!

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Jenny

UG vs. PGT: the differences

Deciding whether or not to do a Master’s degree is a big decision! But what is the difference?

My take on the Master’s students life:

In the table below I’ve noted down the key differences between my two degrees to try and make the distinction a bit clearer.

UG (Biochemistry) PGT (Molecular Medicine)
Application via UCAS Application to the University
120 credits 180 credits
9 month academic year 12 month academic year
Guided study Self-directed study
Build on assumption of low level knowledge Assume a high amount of previous knowledge
Low expectation of technical skills Higher expectation of technical skills, improvement sought
Highly supervised (laboratory) Supervision present but self-directed research
Short laboratory project Extended laboratory project
Guided opportunities for direction and feedback Expected to seek your own opportunities to ask questions and direct your learning
Wide discipline knowledge Sub-discipline knowledge
Set hours (laboratory) Expected to manage your own time
Lecturers/ researchers are seen as senior, with a clear power dynamic Lecturers/ researchers are still seen as senior but the dynamic is more of colleagues
Research seminars may be a requirement in third year Increased invites to seminars/talks and lab meetings- expectation that they will be of interest
Large class size Smaller class size
Slow moving Fast-paced


The big differences summed up:

  • Master’s level learning comes with much higher expectations of your drive, knowledge and dedication.
  • Master’s level learning is a lot more independent. You are in control of your own work and expected to manage your own time.
  • Master’s level learning is intensive, with a heavier workload and faster pace than at UG level.

This progression is cheekily summed up below:

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The main take-home message is that a Master’s degree should not just be something you undertake as you don’t know what to do, it in itself is a choice.

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

How to have a rewarding summer without an internship or a job?

The pressure of gaining experience in any possible field is increasing year after year. And every summer students from all degrees run around trying to be accepted for a  great internship scheme, get a job or a do any other activity that might increase your employability prospects after they graduate. This is all understandable, considering the competitive job market we all have to face after we have obtained our degrees.

But what do you do when you end up in a situation where you were unable to secure any internship or job over the summer period. How do you ensure you still make the most of your 3 months and develop not only professionally, but personally too?

Well, I got you covered. Below you will find a list of different activities that can be undertaken both when in Sheffield or while travelling, that will help you have a productive summer.

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  • Attend a summer school

 

This one requires a bit of preparation in advance but it can add up so much to your CV. If you have an area of study that you are interested in, but which you have not had the chance to engage that much with, then have a look at the summer schools that are running at the moment and choose that one that could be most helpful to you. You can start by looking at summer schools organised by different universities across UK and Europe (especially if you want to pursue a Master in another European country) or have a look at some think tanks and see if they organise any summer programmes. The options are endless, all that’s required from you is a quick Google search and you are ready to go!

  1. Learn a new language

This one might require a bit more self management, but everyone can agree that knowing more than one language is an incredibly useful skills to have. Maybe you studied one for A levels but haven’t practiced it in ages, or you are going on an Erasmus programme and would like to lay out the basics, or you know that in order to get your dream job you should speak more than one language. No matter what your motivations are, learning a new language is a very rewarding process. You can start with one hour per day and also mix in some more fun ways to understand the language such as watching movies, listening to songs or getting immersed in their culture. You can also build on your efforts once the summer ends and sign up for a Languages for All programme at the beginning of the year. (more details here:https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/languages/lfa )

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  1. Volunteer with one of the local charity shops

This is a great one if you like to get out of the house, meet new people, while also being passionate about social impact. Sheffield has some great charity shops that are constantly looking for volunteers such as Oxfam, Save the Children or Age UK. This experience would allow you to engage with some of the biggest charities out there and gain amazing volunteering experience, while also meeting great individuals and giving back to the community. Their opportunities are not always advertised on the usual university pages but you can easily go in and ask if they need a helping hand. I am sure they will be more than happy to take you on board.

  1. Volunteer with one of your preferred organisations

If you have a group of organisations you are interested in working with, but haven’t managed to get an internship with them, or they do not have an internship scheme at all, then this is a great way to get involved. Most of these organisations would love to have brand ambassadors in different campuses around the UK and you can facilitate that for them. Most of them are able to offer you training and provide you with more knowledge about how the organisation operates and what kind of people they are likely to recruit. If you are social sciences student looking to work with a charity, this is a great way to get involved in the sector. All you need to do is pick up the phone and offer your help!

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Overall, all these suggestions rely on your sense of initiative. There are so many other ways through which you can gain valuable experience in the field you are interested to have a career in. All you need to do is spend some time thinking of what the best course of action is for you and then start looking for opportunities. Google is always there to help you!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Amber

Summer and Exam Services at 301

Although our workshops have ended for the summer, did you know that there are still a range of services and resources available here at 301?

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Photo by Euysuk Simon Kwon (Insagram: es_kwon)

Resources

If you have ever visited 301 you may have noticed that we have a wide range of leaflets advising on the various services of the university. If you are looking for something in particular, feel free to ask us at reception and we will do our best to help you. In addition to these leaflets, we also have a range of handouts to help with your academic skills. These are free for you to help yourself to and if you have missed a workshop for a particular topic, may be able to offer you some alternative guidance. They are found in a carousel on the right hand side of reception, as you walk in the front of the building. We also have a range of study skills books for students to read, although these must stay in reception so they can be used by any student who needs them.

 

Services

Many of the tutors who run the academic skills workshops are continuing to deliver 1:1 sessions if you need guidance with your academic skills. These sessions might help you with any work you have due or with improving your skills ready for next year! The sessions are really useful but it is important to note that our tutors can give general help (for example, the structure of an essay) but cannot give subject specific advice or comment on the content of your work.
MASH (Maths and Statistics Help) continues to run during the exam period and can be found opposite the flexible workspace. The drop in sessions allow you to be flexible with your time or you can make an appointment to ensure that you are seen. Opening times for MASH are weekdays 10am-1pm and again on Wednesday evenings 4pm-7pm (drop in only) for statistics and weekdays 1pm-4pm, with a drop in only session until 7pm on Wednesday for maths.

 

Summer 1:1s and MASH sessions are likely to run on a revised timetable so please keep an eye on our website, or pop into reception if you have any queries. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301

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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Miranda

End of year checklist

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Can you believe it’s already June? The end of another year at uni is almost here and it’s time to start moving out of your Sheffield house for summer (unless your doing a placement!).

May is always a hectic month for uni students, with lots of revision, deadlines, exams and no doubt lots of celebrating too (or to come if you’re not quite finished!). However this means you might not end up leaving much time to think about the things you need to do before you move out for summer. Luckily, this blog is to help take that stress away in providing you a simple checklist of things to remember to do before moving home. You’re welcome!

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1. Handing in your keys!

Probably the most important thing – sort out when and where you need to hand in your house keys before you leave and check all your housemates are doing the same.

2. Leaving your house/flat

Definitely the most boring thing on this list is the dreaded end of year flat-clean (particularly if you’re living in halls!), but it’s got to be done. Make sure you sort out a day in advance when everyone’s free so that everyone is helping!

Whilst your packing your things and cleaning your house, it’s wise to take some photos of the house such as any scuffs or marks so you have a record of everything.

Make arrangements for moving your stuff (there’s always so much more than you’d imagine!) and see if its possible to move it straight from your old accommodation to your new one.

Finally, make sure you sort out when there will be a final house inspection and how/when you’ll be receiving your deposit back

3. Make summer plans to meet up

You all promised to see each other through the summer but before you know if everyone’s made different plans and it’s the end of August! To avoid going all summer without managing to coordinate the groupchat make it a bit easier by sorting a date and location now.

4. Return any library books

Kind of self-explanatory! If you’re a final year student you need to return books by the 10th June 🙂

5. Donate or throw out unwanted items

You might find you have lots of things at the end of the year you no longer want or need (or simply can’t fit in your suitcase/ car). If this is the case make sure you take advantage of the Sheffield Donate, Don’t Waste scheme!

There’s lots of sites you can donate unwanted items such as food and kitchenware (see the site above) and as a last resort you can collect 2 extra red bin bags for waste (from the Student Advice Centre or Propertywithus in the SU), to be collected from your house. Make sure you don’t simply allow your normal black bins to overflow as this is a nuisance for other residents and you may get a fine!!

6. Have a one last final meal (until September…) at your favourite Sheffield eatery

Last but definitely not least.. It could be over 3 full months before you next get chance to experience the joys that is a Notty house pie or Harley burger so take full advantage!

 

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Jenny

Finding that motivation

Motivation in these final weeks or months of your degree can be tricky. It’s hard enough finding the motivation during it but seeing the sun outside and thinking about a heavy workload isn’t exactly helpful! Here are five light-hearted nuggets of advice to help motivate yourself for the final push. (They might sound stupid but give them a go).

  • This is going to sound odd but work out how much you have roughly spent on this degree so far. Even first years will be set back ~£13,000 on loans alone! Do you really want to waste all of that money by messing it up now? I didn’t think so! Whatever your situation you can still make a difference.

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  • Write down your goals on post it notes and note how your degree helps you get there! Put them all around your room! Regardless of whether it is ‘make my mum proud’, ‘get a PhD’ or ‘earn a lot of money’, a good degree is a step in the right direction.

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  • Do a big picture timeline. Think about where you are now, how you got there and where you want to be. It helped me realize that whilst knowing how a particular protein channel opened may not help in the long run, it is what is needed now to keep moving forward.

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  • Make a plan for once this semester/ your degree is over! Whether it is booking a holiday on a tropical island, organizing an end of semester night out or scheduling nothing for a whole week so you can binge on TV, it might help motivate you!

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  • Get competitive. As a twin I’ve always had a fierce competitive streak, if you are similar then use it to your advantage! Do an extra hour of revision to beat your course-mate, ask them what they’ve done so you can beat it, use their grades as motivation for the future. Get crazy with it!

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Good luck with the rest of your degree, now go forth and conquer! 

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Amber

Applying for a Masters

Whether you’re applying because you love your subject or because you aren’t quite ready to give up being a student, here is a short guide to applying to a masters programme!

Choosing your course

Picking the right subject is really important as you don’t want to end up stuck doing a course you don’t enjoy! For many people, a masters may be progression into the same subject as your undergraduate degree, or a branch of the subject. Or perhaps you have found a new interest which you would like to pursue. Regardless, do your research and make sure you will enjoy it.

Research or taught? If the subject is new to you, a taught course may be more appropriate. If you want to go into research or are considering a PhD, a research course may prepare you better and give you a taste of whether a research career is for you.

Once you have decided, do lots of research online and talk to current students, if you know any. The university should have lots of information on everything from modules to course fees (but don’t let these put you off)!

If you are keen on a partiuclar course, it may help to visit the university on one of their open days. This also allows you to ask any questions, and as masters courses are usually much smaller than undergrads, it may give you the opportunity to get to know the staff – which can be useful if you need to contact them with any future queries.

Applying

As with your undergrad, keep a close eye on application deadlines! If your chosen course does not have a deadline, then don’t be tempted to leave it too late, as often places are given on a first come, first served basis and popular courses may fill up early!

Your application may require you to submit a CV, which should be tailored to the course you are submitting to. With help writing a CV, the Careers Service have lots of helpful resources and you could also book a 1:1 session with an advisor to improve your CV.

As with CV writing, the Careers Service offer lots of helpful resources as well as 1:1 sessions to help guide you with writing your personal statement. Your personal statement should show your passion and enthusiasm for the subject and is likely to include areas such as ‘Why are you applying?’ and ‘What makes you a good candidate?’. Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet, but don’t be tempted to lie as you may be asked questions relating to the content of your personal statement during an interview!

You may be required to submit a number of documents with your application. For help with these, you can visit SSID who have access to your student records and can print documents such as your transcripts (although these may incur a small cost!).

You are likely to require at least one reference for your masters application. Choose the member of staff wisely, you should aim to pick academics who know you well and are familiar with your work – dissertation supervisors and tutors are ideal. Make sure that you ask your referee before submitting their details!

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Student finance

Make sure you have some idea of how you will fund your masters degree. Dont be put off by course fees as there may be bursaries and scholarships available, and if you are a UK undergraduate you are likely to be eligible for the new Student Finance England postgraduate loan which is up to £10k. Unlike undergraduate student finance, postgraduate student finance opens much later in the year so keep an eye on the website and don’t be afraid to ring them with any queries (they are very friendly!).

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Waiting!

Once your application is complete and your references have been sent, there can be a long wait for an offer. If, like me, you have been waiting for what feels like a lifetime, then a follow up email may help. If you have made contacts with any staff at an open day then dropping them an email shows you are enthusiastic and may speed the process up a little.

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Good luck!

For more in depth information visit:

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate-study/masters-degrees/applying-for-a-masters-degree

https://www.ucas.com/ucas/postgraduate/postgraduate-study/why-study-postgraduate/faqs-about-postgraduate-study#

https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/how-apply-masters-degree-uk

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Ellie

Why Staying Calm During Exam Period Is Important, And The Best Ways To Do It!

It has finally arrived… the dreaded exam period! Although on the bright side, the fact it’s here now means that it will be over so soon!!

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So here are my tips for making these next three weeks super productive:

  • The most important thing, I would argue, is to keep healthy. Although these are obviously very important exams, they are not worth forfeiting your health for. You need to take time in the day to cook, to eat and to do some exercise – a healthy body means a healthy mind and will stand you in good stead of being capable of dealing with the stresses of the season! 

I would maybe recommend some light exercise such as yoga, or walking, just to make sure your body is active after long periods of sitting down to study. It is not wise to stay locked in your room during exam period!

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Don’t lock yourself in your room. Make sure you talk to people and socialize – they could help take your mind off your exam for a while – which is not a bad thing. The world still turns; you cannot let the pressure of exams make you retract into yourself and forget everything else. If you are worried, then a friend may be able to help. 

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If you feel that you need additional help, the Uni provides many great services that can help with exam pressure:

Things not going right service:  https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/sos

Counselling Service: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/counselling

All of the general information you need from the exams service: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/exams         

 

  • You have to work at a pace that is right for you. It is not worth piling on the workload until the night before an exam; make sure you are ready for it in advance so you feel calm as each one draws nearer. The night before an exam should be a time of calm contemplation, not absolute panic!

The reality is, you can do this, you have done exams in the past and survived. As long as you keep some perspective and stay calm – and also follow my advice – you will do great!

Good luck!

Posted in Intern advice, Written by Maddie

A guide to learning how to do public speaking

Makes you shiver just at the thought of it!

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Public speaking is a fear most people have, and it is perfectly normal! It take a lot to present your ideas and views in front of a crowd, especially when we are talking about assessed presentations in university or work related public speaking where your statements do matter!

At the same time, public speaking is also one of those basic transferable skills employers are looking for. Either for a job or if you are pursuing a Master or PhD, stages in your career progression will depend on you captivating the audience through your speech and delivering a good presentation.

How do you make sure you have this skill fully mastered right from the start? Through personal experience and through noticing other people develop, I can say that’s a bit of a challenging one, but I am almost certain that through practice and patience you can learn to get rid of those nerves and nail your speech every time, no matter how impossible that though might sound now.

Knowing that myself was there at one point and that I managed to challenge my fears and be comfortable with public speaking, here is a guide on how to get you started working on this skill:

  1. Let’s start with an easy one- ask yourself why you don’t like to speak in public

More often than not you will realise that those reasons are not as logical as you might have though. When I first thought about improving my public speaking skills, I know I was afraid of starting because I thought people would judge me. On what? I had no clue but I knew people judge and I was terrified of that. When I delivered my first speech I realised things are not quite like I thought they were. On the contrary, most of the time people do listen to what you have to say, and even give you constructive feedback. Worst comes to worst they would just look at their phone and not even pay attention at what you’re saying, so no worries! Just go out there and give it a try!

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  1. Now that you have that sorted, try to put yourself in situations where you know you will have to speak in front of a crowd.

Start small by joining a society and taking the lead on a project, do a presentation in class, sign up for some short time courses. Anything works, as long as it gives you the chance to go out of your comfort zone, while you are still in a safe space where you can make mistakes and learn from them. And never be afraid to ask for help! Either from a friend or family member, or from people that you know are really good a public speaking, ask them for tips, advice, ideas on how you can do better, ask them how do they get over their fears. You will find that you can translate their practices to your own experience and just learn through trial and error.

  1. And finally make it a habit!

This is the challenging part. Now that you’ve tried public speaking once or twice and you are a bit more comfortable with being on the spotlight, try to do it as often as possible. Join a society that has public speaking as one of their main activities. Debating Society and Model United Nations are amazing opportunities for you to enhance your skills while also discussing fun topics and keeping up with what’s happening in the world. Take on an opportunity where you teach a subject or train a group of individuals. The PASS programme here at 301 is a particularly good scheme in this sense and you can check everything about it here:https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/peerlearning/pass

These are just some suggestions but with an SU as active as ours I am sure there are plenty more opportunities for you to discover.

And here you have it! A guide on how to start working on being an incredible public speaker. As a closing thought, I can attest it’s not something that happens overnight, but it is definitely worth the effort so good luck and don’t forget that 301 has a workshop on ‘Presentation skills’ that can give you a good starting point! You can check it out here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops

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Posted in All things 301, Intern advice, Written by Amber

Writing a Blog

As I’m sure you’ve realised by now, part of our role as a Student Intern here at 301 is to write blog posts! I’d never done any blogging before applying for the role here, and it can be quite a scary prospect as it’s an entirely different style of writing to anything I’d done before! Here are a few tips on blogging, whether you need to blog for a job application or you just fancy starting up your own blog for fun!

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Keep it simple

Your readers don’t want to have to work too hard to understand what you are saying! Even in a longer blog post you can keep your language and layout simple and clear to allow for easy reading!

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Keep it informal

This follows on from the previous point – your blog should be easy and fun to read so don’t write it like you would an essay. Keep the writing style informal and lighthearted!…. But don’t go too far, swearing and slang can be a big turn off for some of your readers and are certainly not appropriate for a blog affiliated with an organisation (like this one!)

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Use pictures

Engage your reader with the use of pictures, particularly memes or GIFs. These maintain the fun and easy vibe of your blog, draw the reader in and can enhance the points you are trying to make… And who doesn’t love random pictures and GIFs of cats?!

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Share your experiences

Although it may feel odd to talk about yourself and share your opinions to begin with – don’t be afraid or embarrassed to share your experiences as that is what blogging is about!

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