Posted in Intern advice, Written by Amber

My Top Uni Experiences

I can’t believe that my degree is over, and how quickly the time went! Now that I’ve finished I’ve been looking back at my time at uni and although it was incredibly busy and sometimes stressful, I’m pleased to say I don’t think I would have done anything differently! I got involved in everything that I wanted to during my degree and my university experience was about far more than just my degree. Here are some of my favourite university experiences, you could take inspiration from these if you are looking for some ideas of what to get up to next year!

Societies

I knew before I came to university that I wanted to make the most of the huge range of societies that the university had to offer. I would advise new students not to rush into buying membership for everything, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to try something new! Societies are great as they allow you to meet people with a shared interest, but from a range of different cultures, backgrounds and fields than the people you might meet on your course. Not only this but classes/lessons through societies are often FAR cheaper than what you would be paying elsewhere! I knew I wanted to find something active and I ended up joining Bellydance Society. I fell in love with the dance and the culture that surrounds it, as well as making so many amazing friends and at the end of that year I applied to be on committee. I got the position I applied for and also continued in my position this year. As Publicity and Events Officer I have gained brilliant experience of marketing and event management including planning and running sell-out shows. Being on committee was one of the most stressful but rewarding experiences of my degree and if you find a society that you love I would really recommend applying for a committee position.

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Volunteering

At the beginning of my final year I realised that I had done lots of things for myself during my time at university, but hadn’t really done anything to give back to the community that have made me feel so welcome. So I went to the volunteering fair and looked into a range of opportunities, there is everything from helping at animal sanctuaries to working with people such as children with disabilities or elderly people in care homes. I chose to volunteer for ‘Clubbing Crew’ which runs nights out at the Student’s Union once a month (on a Friday) for adults with learning disabilities. The experience has required very little commitment – just one evening a month, finishing at 1am which meant it didn’t interfere with my study time but has been one of the most fun and rewarding experiences. The feeling of knowing you have helped someone have a good time is amazing – when you see a shy and quiet individual turn into a total diva, dancing away with a giant grin on their face, is fantastic. I would 100% recommend a volunteering project as it will benefit you and the community.

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Outreach

Throughout my degree I have been involved in outreach opportunities within my department. For me, this has consisted of volunteering at our departmental museum during open evenings (which led to me gaining a part time job as a museum tour guide) and assisting during the Animal and Plant Sciences ‘Annual Christmas Lecture’ which involves 1000 local primary school children descending on the Octagon for a lecture by a member of staff, followed by activities designed and ran by undergrad students. Although I don’t particularly want to go into teaching, the experiences have massively increased my confidence working with children and I have found it really rewarding to help inspire the next generation of scientists.

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End of year ball

The end of year ball for your department is a great way to celebrate the year with your coursemates, and a good excuse to buy that dress or suit you’ve had your eye on! The food at my ball was pretty good and although I have heard mixed things from other departments at least there is usually free alcohol to wash it all down! I would especially recommend attending your ball to final year students. I saved some money so that I would be able to buy photographs so I have memories of my time at university.

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Varsity

Even if sports isn’t your thing, I would thoroughly recommend attending a varsity event. It’s a great way to get into the unviersity spirit, particularly if you have friends competing. In particular, the final event, the ice hockey has a great atmosphere and is really good fun! However make sure you plan to get there early and either leave early or wait for the rush to finish after the event as the trams are usually packed!

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Walks in the peaks

With the Peak District on our doorstep, Sheffield is a fantastic university if you enjoy walking. During my first and second year I went on walks in the Peaks with Natural History Society (now named Nature and Wildlife Society) who run walks once a month out into the Peaks. During my final year, having been so busy I have often been unable to go walking on the dates that the society had arranged, this led me to contact the Walking Club who usually run two walks every week. Both societies are full of very friendly people and walks usually just cost a few £s in bus or train fare. Walking with a society is great if you don’t want to worry about working out transport and planning a route. If you are feeling more adventurous, obviously you can always get on a bus and go by yourself or with friends!

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I hope your time at Sheffield is as great as mine was!

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 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 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 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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Posted in Intern advice, Written by Amber

Making the most of your uni Gmail account

More than just an email address! Here are a selection of handy tips to make the most out of your Gmail account!

Email

299f4eea4fb0e7bbecba83ee4b704ae8_sooo-pretty-aww-meme-quickmeme-pretty-meme_432-3621) Brighten up the boring default background with a bright colour or pretty pictures! Okay so this one may sound purely aesthetic but there is evidence that pictures could increase your productivity! There’s everything from scenic landscapes and animals to cartoons and graffiti, or you can upload your own photos for a more personalised approach!
Click the cog in the top right corner and select ‘Themes’ to choose.

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2) Filter out some of the spam that comes with being at uni by setting your inbox up with a ‘promotion’ tab. When you set your inbox to have a separate tab for your primary emails and ‘promotions’ many of the generic emails from services such as the gym and the library are filtered out of your main inbox. While it doesn’t stop you receiving 3 billion emails from the psychology department, this little trick can keep your inbox a little tidier! Just make sure to regularly check this tab for important emails, particularly if you are living in halls as emails from the accommodation team also end up here!

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Click the cog in the top right corner and select ‘Configure Inbox’. From this menu you can tick and untick the tabs you would like to appear in your inbox.

3) This final email tip is aimed at those people on committees or who have access to another university managed email address. In order to look at your society email inbox and your personal university email inbox, you can open the accounts in separate browsers to avoid having to log in and out of MUSE each time! Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer can all be opened at the same time, each with a different university managed inbox open, so you don’t have to keep logging out.

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Calendar

It wasnt until I started working here at 301 that I discovered Google Calendar, and now I plan my whole life on it!

1) Calendar allows you to make events which you can name and colour code to help organise your time. I have my own personal colour code which helps me keep track of my day, for example meetings are always in yellow, lectures in blue and deadlines in red.

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Sadly my calendar is no longer this empty!

2) Another cool part of Google Calendar is that you can invite others to your events – super useful for group meetings! In addition to this, because your email is managed by the university, you can view other people’s calendars. This is useful to timetable group meetings as you can stack other people’s calendars over your own to find out when you are all free. Obviously this works both ways and it is worth remembering that anyone in the university can look up your calendar (including lecturers!) so probably best not to put anything too personal such as reminders that you’ve run out of clean washing!

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3) The final tip about Google Calendar is that you can download the free app to your phone and link it to your uni email address. This means that you can view and add to your calendar on the go, as well as receiving a reminder 10 minutes before your events!

Google Drive, Docs, Slides and Sheets

1) Your university Google account comes with your own 15GB storage ‘Google Drive’. You can upload pretty much any file including photos, videos, music files and all your regular documents. You can separate your files into folders, just as you would on your computer. This is a great extra place to save your work as a back up!

2) Google Docs, Slides and Sheets are Google’s own version of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel. While they don’t have all the functionality of the Microsoft programmes, they are great for doing important work on as all your progress is saved as you go and you can download it in Microsoft format when you’ve finished. The other brilliant thing about Docs, Slides and Sheets is the ability to collaborate. You can share your work with your peers and all work on the same document.When you edit the documents, changes are visible for everyone as they are made, which makes the programmes great for group work. Click ‘Share’ in the top right corner….docs1and then enter an email address or share the link.

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3) The final tip relates to collaborative work on Google docs and is great for getting others to peer review and proofread essays but has plenty of other uses too! You can set the permissions of your collaborators to ‘Suggest’/’Comment’ rather than directly edit. This means that when someone adds to or removes part of your work, it shows as a different colour and comes up as a suggestion at the side of the document, which you can either ‘Accept’ and the suggested changes will be made, or ‘Decline’ and the suggested changes will be removed. Just make sure you only share your work with people you absolutely trust, as collaborators can copy and share your work and you don’t want to be a victim of plagiarism!

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These tips are by no means exhaustive as Google has a lot of functionality but hopefully you have learnt something! If you have any useful tips please share them in the comments!

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

Exam Revision Planning

With exams looming, back in December I attended the ‘Exam Revision Planning’ workshop in the hope of getting to grips with my pile of revision! The session tackles a number of areas in order to help you plan your revision successfully.

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We started off with a discussion about how we currently revise, to get everyone comfortable and chatting with each other.

Following this was my favourite part of the workshop – the VARK quiz. This tests which learning style suits you best – Visual, Auditory, Reading/writing or Kinesthetic. I found this really interesting and much more productive than the Buzzfeed quizzes I usually find myself taking to procrastinate!!!

I am a reading/writing learner which is what I thought I would be as I find writing out lists and revision cards useful. We then split into groups with other students who shared our learning style and shared our revision methods and techniques with each other.

Other areas covered by the workshop were how to decide what to revise so you don’t become overwhelmed, and creating a revision action plan to manage your revision effectively.

Keep an eye out for the new Revision Planning Workshops after the Easter break!

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

From Evidence to Argument Workshop

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I recently attended my first workshop of the year – ‘From Evidence to Argument’. Despite working at 301 I have only attended one workshop previously but it was this positive experience which led me to apply for the intern role here!

The From Evidence to Argument Workshop is ran jointly by 301 and the library which works really well as the staff have different perspectives and can offer advice on different areas.

The first section of the workshop covered finding evidence and different types of sources. This included how to start researching for a piece of work and also considering bias in different sources.

The second half of the workshop taught us how to structure a successful argument, including the use of evidence. This is a really useful skill for essays as well as for the discussion section of scientific reports.

In order to practice the skills we had been taught, we used ‘Brexit’ as an example. This led to some really cool conversations with other members of the group, particularly as we had people from many nationalities so we had a range of interesting viewpoints!

For me, the most useful part of the workshop was the argument structure. I have lots of deadlines coming up including my research project write up so there will be plenty of opportunities to practice what I have learnt!

Posted in All things 301, Uncategorized, Written by Amber

A bit about me!

I’m Amber, a 3rd year BSc Biology student originally from Oxfordshire. I love animals and own 3 dogs and a lizard… So most my blogs are probably going to include an animal meme or two!

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Within my degree my main interest is in palaeobiology and I would like to work in a museum eventually (yes, like Ross from Friends!). I currently help out in the Animal and Plant Sciences departmental museum ‘The Alfred Denny Museum’ which is small but beautiful and well worth a visit! In my spare time I enjoy belly dancing and I am the Publicity and Events Officer which means making lots of pretty posters and organising performances with sparkly costumes! I also enjoy taking part in occasional outreach events in my department and have recently become a Clubbing Crew volunteer! As well as my intern role at 301, I have another part-time role in the university as a SALT (Student Associate in Learning and Teaching), the two tie in really well together and I would recommend either to anyone reading!

So 3rd year is shaping up to be my busiest year so far! I’m hoping to make the most of some of the workshops on offer at 301 to help me do the best I can in my project write up this semester, and my dissertation next semester! I will keep you guys posted as I attend a few workshops this year and get ready to graduate!

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