Posted 6 Mar 2013 by Ava
As a history undergraduate I was able to participate in the History Worklink Programme. This module was offered in my third year and allowed students to work off site at an ‘external history-related institution'. I was fortunate in gaining a position as places are limited depending on the number of participating institutions signed up to the scheme.
I had to make a formal application to the Module Leader in the previous semester and was fortunate enough to be selected. My placement was at Kingston's Local History Room; fellow students gained places at a number of other institutions that participated in my year including The Natural History Museum, the Royal Society of Arts and the Bishopsgate Institute.
The main aim of the Worklink programme is to allow students to gain additional skills and hand-on experience within a work setting. It enabled us to develop transferable skills and for those students who had not had previous work experience it enabled them to familiarise themselves with the world of work.
For those who thought it was an easy option let me say truthfully it was not - there was still an assignment. This included an essay and an end of module presentation to fellow participants of the programme, the Module leader and guests from the host institutions.
Did I enjoy my time on my placement? Yes, definitely, I did; I was lucky to gain invaluable experience working with staff on their then upcoming exhibition ‘Kingston at Leisure'. This was a collaborative project between the Library and Heritage Service and Kingston University's Centre for Local History, and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It looked at the clubs and societies within the Royal Borough of Kingston, some of which dated back to the 19th century, such as Kingston's Camera Club established in 1893. By working at the Local History Room I gained an insight into the invaluable, often behind the scenes work that goes on to preserve and catalogue our valuable social history. It was interesting to see some of the donated items which included photographs, minute books, accounts, trophies, programmes, flags, club caps, pamphlets and flyers, even a Morris dancer's costume.
I have to admit there were times during my placement when certain tasks were less than interesting, such as cataloguing piles of paperwork. This was often dull and tedious, but it needed to be done and having a bit of laughter in the office made the task a lot easier.
Would I make any suggestions to those who are considering a volunteer placement? Yes - find out as much as you can about the institutions that are participating in the scheme. If you feel you would find it difficult to get to a particular placement then tell the Module leader beforehand; if you feel you have an interest in one particular institution then tell him/her that too, before you are allocated a placement. It will be of mutual benefit to be sent somewhere that you will find interesting and where you can make a positive contribution, because we are all ambassadors for the University whilst we are on our placement and our actions/behaviour may be the deciding factor on whether the host institution will continue to participate in future years. Also ensure you find out whether or not you will have your train/bus fares paid because as a student every penny counts and this was not always made clear to us and many of us did not feel comfortable to ask.
During my time at the Local History Room I gained an increased awareness of the importance of local history and of the need to preserve, record and archive as many aspects of that history as possible. The exhibition provided a visual record of a bygone era, but it also opened up Kingston's social history to the wider community. It also made me realise that our personal and inherited history makes us who we are as individuals, and that the better we understand the past, the more prepared we will be for the future. I had hoped the work placement would assist me in finding suitable work within a historical setting - it hasn't happened yet! - but I do know the whole experience benefited me enormously in gaining a far better insight into local history.
Hello everyone! I hope you're all well and still keeping up those New Years' Resolutions. Mine was to make someone smile (or even better laugh) every day and I think I've been doing well so far. As usual time is flying by quickly and a recent trip to the library, after being in a four day bubble at home finishing essays, made me realise how stressful exam periods can be. Never have I seen so many tired and panicked faces...so, as a way to help you now and in the future, I've decided to dedicate this blog to ‘Stress-Free Exam Tips'. Enjoy!
1. Don't Cram
I really can't stress this point enough. I know different people work in different ways and that for some of you, cramming may be the only way you feel you can study. However I personally think it is one of the top ways to stressing you out. When you cram, you're likely to panic and start worrying that you won't have enough time to study everything that you need to. Instead I suggest you break your studying up into short, manageable bits. Study one course at a time, and take a break between subjects so you don't end up confusing yourself. Immediately before a test, you should review (not cram) a few notes to get yourself into the mindset that you need.
2. Get Some Exercise
During the frequent breaks you should be taking between study sessions, try getting some exercise. Going for a short walk (yes shopping does count!) or even just playing with a football for a bit can be a great stress reliever, as exercise causes your body to produce endorphins. You don't want to exercise to the point of exhaustion, but a bit of light exercise can be refreshing.
3. Do Something Fun
A lot of people try to "buckle down" during Final Exams and focus entirely on studying, but doing so is a good way to burn yourself out. Instead try to do something fun, either alone or with friends, such as going to a movie, reading a (nonacademic) book, playing board games, etc. Just don't get too sucked into these fun activities or you might forget to study.
4. Make A Schedule
Write yourself a schedule noting the times and dates of each of your exams, then allocate study times for each. Schedule in a few fun times as well, and then try to stick to your schedule. Put it in a visible place. Having a schedule will let you keep track of how much time you have at your disposal and how best to use that time.
5. Eliminate Distraction
It is very easy to get distracted during Final Exams, so do everything you can to avoid distractions whilst studying. Turn off televisions and computers (Facebook isn't going to help you) and try to eliminate other forms of visual entertainment. Decide if you study best in complete silence or if you study better with background noise. Consider moving your study location to a place that is not your bedroom.
6. Study With Friends
You aren't the only person dealing with exams. Try to get together with friends and classmates to study. Stress is easier to deal with when you know other people are going through it too. Just make sure the group stays on-task, or everyone will just be wasting time.
7. Get Plenty of Rest
Your body deals with stress better when it is well-rested. While it's tempting to stay up very late to study before a big test, you'll do better if you go to bed and get the seven to eight hours sleep that your body needs for rest.
8. Eat Healthy
Final exams often overlap with eating lots of junk food, but try to stay away from the junk and eat healthier foods instead. Instead of crisps for a snack, try things like an apple. Drink water instead of fizzy drinks. You'll have more energy and generally just feel better.
9. Be Careful With Caffeine
While caffeine can be a great way to give yourself a quick boost of energy, it can be a double-edged sword once the crash hits. Avoid energy drinks and the like, as the crash that comes along with them can often cause you to lose more time than the energy boost lets you make up.
10. Just Breathe!
Final exams can be stressful, but they aren't the end of the world. Chances are you'll do better on the final than you think you will. Anytime you feel yourself stressing out, just stop what you're doing, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, refocus, and get back to it.
In studying Pharmacology our course offers the opportunity to take a year in industry (also known as a ‘sandwich year'). Ours is taken between years two and three and I believe it will be very beneficial to my future career.
After speaking with my course director, it has come to my attention that in the current climate there are not a lot of jobs and there are a huge number of graduates. This has led me to the conclusion that taking a placement would be a good start in getting my foot onto the career ladder, and has also reminded me that I should push myself as hard as I can to get a good degree. My course director mentioned that in increasing numbers, employers are only taking graduates who have work experience as they already know a reasonable amount about the work that they are doing.
There are several placements available, including summer internships for those who don't want to lose a year of studying for whatever reason. Kingston's Careers and Employability service is constantly sending emails, posting positions of interest on Facebook and inviting you to meet representatives from some of the UK's best employers. They work so that these events are course specific (i.e. I couldn't end up going to an event that was only for Biomedical Science students!) For my course specifically I can find a placement depending on which branch of Pharmacology I'd like to go into, which is a huge bonus.
From a studying point of view there is also a huge positive in taking a placement year. Recently 81% of students who took the year in industry got a first or 2.1 degree. Only 34% of non-placement students achieved the same class of degree. For this reason I think a placement year would be hugely beneficial for me even though I already have some work experience from before my degree. Being a first year, I have a while to go before I have to make a decision about whether I want to do one and where I want to go, but it is something that I am very excited about. I think it will help with the third year of my degree, especially the project aspect of it. Kingston is very pro-active about helping with graduate jobs and industry placements and when I get there I know that they will be there to help if I need them!