If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get!

Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 12.29.29.pngAs a student of Politics and International Relations, I know that there are many career paths available once I have graduated. However, like most other students, I really don’t know which one to take!

Through the Employability Points scheme, I gained two weeks experience with a local youth cancer charity (YouCan Youth Cancer Support), which was a real eye-opening experience of the ins and outs of how a charity is run. The great thing about the EP scheme, is that some of the rewards are day-long workshops to give you a snapshot into the industry (See other WE blogs). As much as I enjoyed my time with YouCan, I think this Love Island favourite sums up how I felt! I was panicking that I didn’t have enough experience of different industries. I am also part of a Community Action Group on campus, and I didn’t want to channel all my energy into a career in the charity sector when there were so many different options out there (I’d put all my eggs in one basket)!Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 12.25.18.pngIn my panic about, just the rest of my life, I started to look for more work experience opportunities in different sectors. As I am quite interested in working within parliament, I decided to email every MP in Kent, to see if any of them had any availability in their highly competitive work experience slots. Fortunately enough, (and most likely due to the fab CV the CES helped me to write), I was offered a week at the constituency office of Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, Whitstable and the Villages.

This was such a fantastic experience as I was given a complete insight into the life of an MP, and how many people it takes to help them in their job. I was assigned the role of replying to the constituent emails Rosie was receiving, often on national legislation such as the Environment Bill, the Road Safety Act, and of course Brexit. This saw around 500 emails fly into the inbox on the morning of the ‘Final Brexit Deal’ debate! Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 14.13.14.pngIt was fascinating watching her team of caseworkers keep an eye on the debate and the cabinet resignations, as it is easy to forget that their jobs depend on the Fixed-Term Elections Act. The potential vote of no confidence in Theresa May and the threat of a general election would put their employment in jeopardy. Despite this, as a Labour constituency, they were revelling in the ongoing events, epitomised by putting the ‘Theresa May resignation champagne’ back in the fridge! Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 13.47.19.pngI was also able to attend some of Rosie’s trips around Canterbury, including a visit to the Hepatitis C van outside the Catching Lives homeless centre. Rosie spoke to the charity, who told her that there’s only one van for the whole of England detecting this life-threatening disease. Rosie seemed to care passionately about the issue, and her relationship with one of the Catching Lives volunteers showed just how involved she is with homelessness in Canterbury. She began strategizing fundraising and how she would bring it up in the House of Commons. Watching this reminded me how much I would love to have a career that can impact people’s lives in this way. On Friday I helped greet guests that were attending Rosie’s surgery and found out more about the people she helps.

From my work experience, I can now evidence that I have admin and email skills on my CV, as well as professional office capabilities, and a passion to give up my time to volunteer for a political organisation.

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Moral of the story: I wouldn’t have got this placement (one which has inspired me to pursue a career in parliament) if I hadn’t asked. It can be extremely hard to find work experience, especially as it is often so competitive. But, what have you got to lose by just asking? The worst that can happen is they say no. Best case scenario: they are impressed by your proactive approach, and you get the position. It may seem blase, but..

..if you don’t ask you don’t get.

 

 

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Work Experience – What’s In It For Me? (Part 2)

Following on from the last post, we continue to look at the experiences of your fellow students on their work placements. It can give you a real insight into an industry and a proper feeling of what a job in that sector can involve. One of the main things to remember is that you don’t to know your exact career path as this is the purpose of work experience! If you hate it, it can be just as beneficial as if you love it. If you get the opportunity, try and give different sectors and type of placements a go – don’t let anything scare you away from work experience! For more help and to talk this through with a trained careers advisor you can make an appointment with the CES here.

Daniel Rozenberg – Mini-Pupillage with Sir Ian Foinette – Maidstone Crown Court

Through the Law School’s Career and Employability advisers, I had secured my first ever Mini-Pupillage. I made my way to the Maidstone Crown Courts from Canterbury, and entered past security into the resolute justice building. I met Mr. Foinette, a Criminal Barrister, in the Barrister Mess Hall. I was immediately immersed into the gritty, sometimes complicated, yet always captivating details of the Crown Courts’ criminal cases. While confidentiality is primordial to the fluid and un-biased functioning of the legal system, especially with sensitive cases, for the day I was privy to excitingly on-hands information: case files, body cam and CCTV footage, witness statements, pleas and police records, etc. Mr. Foinette was very kind and engaging; asking me my opinions and how I felt about certain matters; what any defences could be and what likely outcome there was to so and so case.

We discussed the differences between the theory we learn in Law School as opposed to the pragmatic and reality of court procedure and litigation, which often relies more on experience than knowledge of cases by heart. I learned about strategy for presenting a case to the jury, and picked up various tips, such as ‘Never ask a question in cross-examination that you do not know the answer to’! Finally, we proceeded to the courtrooms, where I saw a jury selection for the beginning of one trial, as well as a sentencing to finish another. Thanks to the University of Kent Work Experience Bursary I had the wonderful opportunity to experience a real day in the life of being a barrister! But what I appreciated the most was the camaraderie I observed between the barristers, no matter if they were defence or prosecution, and the caring, sincere and earnest attitude the judges adopted in presiding over the courts.”

Daniel Rozenberg – Kent Fire and Rescue Station

Throughout my first year at the University of Kent, I was excited to get a head start on my employability, and figure out as soon as possible what I wanted to do with my career after graduating. By attending events, interviews and employability fairs, I accumulated a good amount of Employability Points, and at the end of the year, I was rewarded with the Kent Fire and Rescue Station Road Safety Experience. After travelling to Rochester from Canterbury, where I met other fellow students doing the reward, I proceeded into the station’s very own lecture and movie theatre to watch one of thier videos. The day was followed by a student-led investigation of a reproduced car crash scene, educational games to test our reaction speeds, a comprehensive understanding of the risks of driving under the influence, and the dangers involved with road traffic. We were taught hands-on some basic road safety, and were sworn to never drive and text again.

The most enriching part of the experience was in the afternoon. Two fire investigators presented to us a famous case they dealt with 10 years ago, involving arson and murder. They taught us how they traced the steps of the criminal suspects backwards from the burnt fire scene, and figured out exactly how the fire had started. We learned about how to identify where a fire starts, and how it spreads, as well as how to identify whether the fire started naturally, accidentally or intentionally. Finally we were given fire safety tips, taken through the legal aspect of the case, and then were given the opportunity to ask questions. Thanks to the University of Kent Work Experience Bursary, I had the luck to revise my road and fire safety, as well as learn from a dedicated team some uniquely interesting insights on their job and the dangers it holds, as well its importance.”

Ellie Sullivan – Which? Magazine Legal Team

“I was lucky enough to secure a week of work experience with Which? Magazine’s legal team. I was really excited as it is another route for law graduates – rather than the typical route of gaining a training contract and becoming a solicitor. On my first day everyone was very welcoming and the office had a friendly atmosphere. I was assigned a ‘mentor’  (a consumer legal advisor), who encouraged me to ask questions and explained the relevant Consumer law. I listened in on calls between the advisors and the clients, watched the advisors draft letters on behalf of clients and attended the monthly lawyers meeting.

During my week at Which? Legal I sat with Employment, Wills and Probate, and Consumer legal advisors which vastly improved my knowledge in all of these legal areas. The Which? Legal team work tirelessly to help consumers with everyday – the legal advice given by the team is exceptional, and of great value to the everyday citizen. It was also arranged for me to go to the Mortgages and the Trusted Traders teams – I got to understand how different parts of the business were managed. I also got to attend a Practical Law training session with Thomson Reuters. The legal research skills I learnt in this session will be invaluable, both for the third year of my degree and for any future employment in the legal industry.

At Which? I was given a legal challenge at the start of the week, which I could work on all week. At the end of the week I was to present my findings. This was a useful task, as it allowed me to apply the knowledge I had gained from listening to calls between advisors and clients, and to apply it to my legal scenario. At the end of my work experience placement, my manager gave me a mock interview and CV review. This was insightful as I got to speak to a ‘real’ recruiter about what I could do to improve my CV. The mock interview also helped me practice my interview skills and to think on my feet by providing examples as to where I have shown particular skills.

As my work experience was in Bristol, the University Bursary has helped me fund the work experience. The bursary is a great way to encourage students to take part in work experience. “

 

To find out about the Kent CES Work and Opportunities bursary click here.

For more information on your rights in an unpaid internship click here.

 

Laboratory experience at Adey Innovation Ltd.

My experience at ADEY Innovation Ltd. was a great one. It was not only an opportunity for me to have a go at what working as a laboratory scientist was but also introduce me to similar working environment for me during my sandwich year. I had the opportunity to shadow at the lab for a week which is suited with other companies at the Kent Science Park located in Sittingbourne. As a science student, this award was a great door for me to experience how working in the outside world was and more specifically in a laboratory. Commitment and Hard work were key skills needed for this award and with the help of the B-Kew Bursary, I was able to commute from London to Sittingbourne for the 5 days I was assigned to shadow at the ADEY lab. With the supervision of the great Lab manager, I enjoyed my time at the lab working from 9am-5pm each day with tasks assigned to me and observation I made in the lab.

I would not say the idea of me working in the ADEY lab at first was not terrifying due to the sudden change of scenery from the University lab to a company lab. In spite of all these questioning about how I would cope, I was surprisingly welcomed with open arms on my first day at the lab which strengthened my hope and eliminated any fears of not being able to fit in into the work space.

Working with other scientists to achieve a common goal in the lab was a real bonus to my experience there. It encouraged me to put myself out more and share my ideas with others. My colleagues were very supportive during my time at the lab and directed me whenever I need guidance with tasks. I chose this award because I was intrigued by the level of experiments which are conducted in the company’s lab to test water whether it is suitable for use in the heating systems. Gladly I was not disappointed by what I witnessed and partook within the short space of time I was at the lab to shadow. I was introduced to safety procedures that needs to be followed during each experiment and taking extra caution with the chemicals used in quantity (precision of measurement) and equipment used. My interaction with other scientists in the laboratory improved my social and interpersonal skills, working within teams to attain a common goal also helped develop my communicational, observational and listening skills. During the water tests, the accuracy and precision of the chemicals and equipment used were majorly important because it affects the outcome of the test hence avoiding any contaminations and unnecessary wasting of the lab materials which I took on board to adhere to in future experiments.

I was fortunate to experience using different apparatus such as ICP machine (for testing amount of metals in the water samples which can be domestic or commercial, Free Chlorine Test kit and Total Chlorine Test kit to test the chloride amount in the water samples, using the computer for data input for analysis and evaluation of the samples and other apparatus such as the dispensette and pipettes. I was able to see some organisms in the pathology and microbiology labs and also experienced how to use a Gallery Plus Colorimetric Analyser in the chemistry lab.

In a nutshell, my overall experience with the ADEY Innovation Ltd was exceptional and beyond my expectation of how the real world of working as a lab scientist looks like. All I can say to other students is to strive hard and use their employability award wisely and choose an award that would benefit them like mine did and utilise the bursary to support themselves. This glimpse of working as a lab shadow at ADEY was surely a plus to my career path and a big Thank you to the University for providing its students with such opportunities across all sectors.

– Kelvin Baffour Ankrah, 2nd year Bioscience Student

Project Management Week Placement with Medway Council

Even the smallest duration of work experience is better than nothing at all. That is certainly what I discovered with my time at Medway Council for the Project Management Shadowing Placement. Being only a weeks’ worth of work experience sounds like nothing compared to other opportunities that are available through the university. I questioned how much experience and understanding I would gain from such a short duration with the Council. I was surprised to find how jam packed my week would be and how much I learnt. My supervisor for the week, Paul, who worked in the School Organisation Department, filled every single second with a different activity, not just focused on one specific department. Monday morning, I expected to be spending the time in the office, having the usual introductions to the team I would be working with. Instead I shadowed Mark, a member of staff from the Project Management Department, on a site visit to a local school. Meeting customers, contractors and site managers to discuss the progress of a potential redevelopment. A lot of what I learnt from studying the Project Management module I could apply to the meeting and understand the issues involved. I was able to get an overview as to what is involved when a project is created. Before I knew it, I was back at the Council offices and it was only 11o’clock. This was just the beginning of the day.

I also underestimated how involved I would be during this week. At times they threw me in at the deep end on an activity, giving me the opportunity to solve a task for myself. Tasks included arranging the academic school timetables of 2020/21 for all the local schools in the area. This proved to be a challenge since setting the timetables came with restrictions and requirements from both local and national governments, which at times would clash. After completing the task, I compared my results with John, who usually completed the task of timetable arrangement. To my surprise I had succeeded in the task and when compared with John’s results, they were identical, and I had completed it far quicker than they expected.  This task alone was a great learning experience, understanding the technicalities and formalities of academic timetables but also my ability to work independently and solve my own questions.

Throughout the rest of the week I spent it in various different meetings with local council members, staff from the department of Education and local businesses, all of which would be impacted by current and new developments planned for the area of Medway. In doing so, I gained a real insight into every factor that has to be considered when changes are made. Having the opportunity to sit down with members of staff from different departments, who explained what their role entailed increased my understanding that Project Management is not refined to one industry or sector, in fact it influences each and every aspect.

The knowledge gained from this week’s work experience has benefitted my understanding of Project Management and all its complexities. Being able to say I have gained experience in such an industry; no doubt will prove highly beneficial to any future interviewers and employers.

Without the help and support from the University of Kent and the B-Kew Bursary I wouldn’t have gained this work experience. Having the travel costs provided by the university meant I had no concerns about travel expenses and could focus fully on enjoying the weeks work experience. And in completing this experience, Medway Council have offered me the opportunity to come back and continue gaining as much experience as I require.

– Eleanor Reed is a 3rd year Business and Management student

Living with the law

University is a time of great excitement where one gains knowledge that is to be applied when you eventually enter the workforce. A great way to have a feel for the knowledge gained at university is through an internship. Having an internship is a great thing to have in your back pocket but an internship can be an expensive venture especially when it is unpaid.  As such having the Work and Opportunities Fund available to cover my basic expenses was a great help. Having access to the bursary was of great assistance to me. Without the bursary I would not have been able to gain the invaluable experience I did. The internship allowed me to get a feel of the corporate world and the best ways to navigate it when I eventually enter that world.

From my first day of my internship, I was handed with quite a lot of responsibility, and given the liberty to develop the legal report required the way I saw fit. I was involved in a myriad of tasks, I got to sit in on meetings, develop a number of press releases for collaborations they had done with their celebrity partners. Aside from the legal aspect I was tasked with some administrative duties such as developing their calendar for the year. I was also tasked with researching into potential partners that they could enter business with.

I was able to put into practice the legal skills provided to us in lectures by having to sift through several national laws and find those applicable to my research.  Being able to put the skills I acquired at university was a rather refreshing experience.

Prior to this internship, I was uncertain about my future career path, and whether law would be the best choice for me. However, the experience has helped give me some direction in this regard and helped me narrow down any future career choices. If ever presented with another opportunity to participate in another internship it is comforting to know if I am put in any extreme situations I have the support of the university, and the bursary if I cannot to fall back on.

– Francine Debrah is a 3rd year Law and Business Administration student

Work Experience – What’s In It For Me?

In an age of increasing unpaid work experience and internships, its easy to question whether it is worth your time as a student. For this reason, I have compiled the stories of students just like you that have recently undertaken work experience in different sectors. Hopefully, they will show you how the skills gained and insight into the industry completely override any doubts you may have had.

Daniel Mensah – West Middlesex University Hospital

“On my first day, I was able to sit in and observe a morning breast cancer clinic, so most patients were quite nervous when entering. I noticed was the language used to help calm patients down, and the consultant would usually examine each patient after asking about their history. I observed a ‘ward check’, and was also able to observe a day in theatre which enabled me to understand the practical skills.
This work experience was crucial, as it gave me exposure to the hospital environment and gave me a true insight into a doctor’s duties. It helped me reaffirm whether I want to pursue this career further after my degree. By being able to see a doctor at work, I was able to ask any questions I had about the profession directly and get advice regarding entering medicine which was highly beneficial. The B-KEW bursary has gifted me with an opportunity to learn about a field I am passionate about and has allowed me to get a better understanding of the career.”

Eloise Leahy – Active Nation

“My time at Active Nation has gone very quickly – it is a big change from University life and studying.I have started off completing events work, sales and campaigning (outreach). It is interesting to see a more commercial side to the charity with the potential to earn commission for myself and to learn exactly what a sales job entails and learning how to cope with strict deadlines and number-based goals.
My first meeting was about the ‘Rainbow Rampage’ event. Despite by nerves I think it went well and I plucked up the courage to share my ideas on a couple of occasions using my creativity and had a really good response. One of the most exciting and different experiences I have had so far on my placement was being a part of the photoshoot for the campaign of the ‘Rainbow Rampage’ as gave me a good first insight into how best to market. This activity also helped me get to know many of my colleges better and was really fun. The Bursary has helped me ensure that I can get to and from my placement and ha helped me feel secure in my finances. I look forward to the rest of my placement.”

Daniel Otway – Kentish Express

“I started off following up on some events from the weekend. I was given contact details and asked to ring them for some thoughts and comments to be included in the story. This allowed me to work on my communication skills, as well as the important skill of taking down notes fast and accurately. Halfway through the week, I was tasked to go out into Ashford and find a story myself. By talking to many different people, I found a number of stories that my editor asked me to follow up on. It was a difficult task, but I feel having done so I am a lot more confident.On the final day, I attended a press conference involving a resident of Ashford who had one £3 million pounds on a scratch card. Seeing all the other media groups there, such as BBC and ITV, was an exciting experience and a gave me a real insight into how these types of events work for journalists.”

For more information on your rights in an unpaid internship click here.To find out about the Kent CES Work and Opportunities bursary click here.

The value of work experience – get ahead in law!

Hear from 3 students who benefited from our Work Experience Bursary, when undertaking unpaid work experience:

Nicholas Barrett, final year Law LLB

Working at Medway Council provided me with an invaluable insight into the range of lawyers that are required by the Councils. I wanted to work with the Council in order to gain a greater understanding of what the needs are for legal services compared to the more typical high street or international law firm. I found that the cases are just as complex and dynamic, and I particularly enjoyed working within the People team where I attended meetings and Court in a number of special guardianship and adoption cases.

I also attended Court to gain an understanding of what the Place team do within the Council’s legal services department. This experience has greatly benefited my future employability for two main reasons:

  1. It has helped me decide what area of law I would like to work in the future
  2. It has opened my eyes to the opportunities available in Council legal services.

Gaining a greater understanding into how the Council legal services department works with respect to the council as a whole was also a valuable experience. I was entrusted to undertake some legal research projects which although complex were very enjoyable. I also helped close down and archive cases for the Council. This work experience has been extremely useful and working at a Council like Medway is something that I am now seriously considering in my future.

Maria Deguara, 2nd year Law LLB

With the help of the Work Experience Bursary, I was able to not only get the amazing opportunity to experience a variety of mini-pupilages, but it also allowed me to witness and experience the working environment in which I am considering as a career. The opportunity to talk to people that are starting out or have been in the profession for a long amount of time gave me a unique insight to the career that I may want to enter. Hearing all the opinions and advice from a variety of barristers and solicitors has facilitated me in understanding the legal profession and thus I will be more confident in making the decision on whether that type of career is suited to me before committing myself to the long and expensive journey ahead of becoming a barrister.

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The experience of meeting different barristers has helped me not only see different areas of the law and the variety of environments I can be involved in. Being in court and seeing the barristers fight for their client, reinforced my passion for winning an argument and has shown me that sitting behind a desk is the last thing I want for a career. Yet other aspects, such as family and financial instability has also challenged the way I can decide which career path I take in the future. Seeing the ups and downs of the career early on is so beneficial not only to see how I react in difficult and unfamiliar situations; it also allowed me to prove that I can be professional and that that particular environment does suit me.

Every little bit of advice has provided me with the knowledge I need to make a knowledgeable decision on the career I wish to pursue. This was all possible with the financial support of the university, which I am truly thankful for.

Roxana Cioara, final year European Legal Studies

My experience at Invicta Law has been eye-opening. The focus of my work placement was Child Protection and Family Law. Considering that I have never studied this area of law in depth before, the work that I was involved in allowed me to gain a better understanding of the daily tasks and responsibilities of legal assistants, solicitors and barristers.

I started my placement by attending a meeting on domestic abuse which gave me a strong introduction to the work of the firm. In the afternoon, I got to look at court papers and analyse their structure. I believe it is very important for people in this profession to know that organisation is the key in being successful and knowing how to deal with each paper or form is a must. The following days at the office I focused my attention on preparing for court and drafting legal documents. I spent seven days in court in Canterbury and Dartford taking notes on different cases. This experience provided an overview of the application of legal skills to different people as each situation required a different skill. Getting to see cases and realising that what is happening is no longer a graded problem question, but someone else’s life, was a crucial part in this experience. Becoming a lawyer is more than being able to understand the law. It is knowing how to apply it to a person’s life in order to make it better.

Having this experience is central for my future applications as I wish to qualify as a solicitor in the future and specialise in Family Law. It affirms my dedication and interest to this area of law and it shows that I will be able, in the future, to dedicate myself to this profession. Not only have I gained essential interpersonal skills through communicating with my supervisors, but I have learned the art of “active listening”. Through this, I was able to take important notes during the court proceedings and ask relevant questions to my supervisors after the hearings.

I am happy that I was able to be a part of this work placement and the fact that the University of Kent advertised this opportunity and made sure that there is a possibility for reimbursement for some of the travel expenses is fantastic and should be an example to other institutions.