Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

During my work experience at Medway Council, I have learnt how important it is to the local community and the role that they play in everyday life. For example, helping new mothers with their first child and making sure that their mental health is okay. I also went out to care homes as part of my work experience to see how they are run and what the council looks for to make sure the clients are protected. When inspecting a care home, they look at the patients’ file to make sure everything is up to date such as medical checks, health problems, medication,  activities, when was the last time they had showers or baths or when they last ate, using a checklist. We also looked at what training the staff had, to see if they are up to date with their qualifications, in order to ensure the patients’ wellbeing is safeguarded.

We looked around the care home to make sure that it was clean and safe, to ensure offices were locked and the fire doors were closed. This made me realise that the patients rely on the council to make sure that they are being properly cared for. The work that the council does sometimes gives a voice to people who are not strong enough to stand up for themselves, and ensures that vulnerable people are being treated properly and that they are safe from any harm. After visiting the care home I did a report on how I thought the care home was doing and what they need to improve on.

The department that I worked in was adult and child care, which involves safeguarding vulnerable children and adults, and making sure that they are being treated right as well as knowing what other problems they are facing. This includes helping children with disabilities and how the council can help them, from getting them in to schools to helping them find work and also giving or finding them work experience to finding jobs.

I also worked with young disabled students (including those with mental health and physical problems). Medway Council tries to help disabled students to be more independent and also gives them support to help them meet their goals. Students with mental health problems often need help with looking for jobs and also learn how to do things for themselves like looking after their own finances, washing, shopping etc. They will tell the council what problems they face accessing some shops, including how they were treated. Some disabled people found it hard to find a job, yet they were well qualified for the job. The council can help them with interview skills and their CVs. The feedback that the people with disabilities gave helps the council to know what is needed and help to create new services.

It was amazing to see how the council supports the local community and what goes on behind the scenes. To be in a council team where you can make a different to people’s life, with your actions making real impact, was a great opportunity.

I also did data collection and market research at a medical centre to investigate how its closure might impact local residents, as well as getting feedback on its services.  The council was thinking of closing them down and having four super hub medical centres in Medway, which led to people being worried and some people were too scared to speak out loud, so it was easier for them to write things down. This way, the council will have an idea of what their needs are and how to address them.

I learnt from my work experience how much the council affects our life from healthcare to care homes and everyone’s wellbeing. The council is over-stretched and their budget is low for the job that needs to be done, and their pay is low for the time that they put in. This made me think that the people that work at the council are people who really want to help make a difference. The work that I did in Medway will impact me because I saw how people depend on you to make sure you get your job done.

The bursary has helped me so much with my work experience because it allowed me to get the clothes that I need to work. I never had a suit before, so did not know how to get one and I did not have the money to get a suit and pay for it. The work experience was during Ramadan which means that I was fasting and needed to buy food during work hours, which was expensive.  without the bursary I would have had to choose between buying a suit or buying food. This allowed me to focus on my work and what I was doing at my work experience. I needed to find a place to stay during my work experience for the month, so the bursary helped me as I wasn’t going to be able to take the work experience due to financial stress.

The work experience has helped me to know what I will want to go into in the future and the support that I got from my team was amazing from proofreading my reports to reading things to me. IThe work has help me to get the confidence that I need to know that I can go into work and do things that other people can do. The money help me buy the smart clothes and also I will need these clothes again when I apply for by summer jobs as well as apply for a Master’s. This means I can reuse the clothes again in the future for many years to come. I got experience in a working environment which showed me how different working is compared to studying at the University of Kent. The experience was originally meant to be for 2 weeks but they extended it to a month, then they increased it to three months! This gave me the motivation that I can do things for myself and not be scared.  Medway Council also gave me a goodbye card and said if I need more work experience then I can contact them. I was the only one that had a Medway staff card as well my own login compared to other people who were doing work experience, which showed that they trusted me.

This would all not be possible without the support and the bursary from the Careers and Employability Service.

– Habib Ali is a recent graduate in Business and Economics.

Advertisements

Thinking about teaching English abroad?

Find out more about the job and how to start your career.

By Seb Cadinot and Caroline Challans

Teaching English is an excellent way to travel and work around the world and explore the in-country culture and language.  All of this strengthens your transferable skills, such as intercultural and communication skills, and experience.

Sound interesting? We’ve outlined below some of the benefits and considerations to think about.

Despite shifts in the language-learning world, for example the rise in the number of Mandarin-language learners across the world with the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse, English remains one the most commonly used languages globally, across all sectors. It is estimated there are over one billion English language learners, at all levels.[1] For you, this means a wide employment market, where your skills and qualification are very much valued, and will be for the foreseeable future.

You’ll obviously want to consider whether you’re seeking to make this your career, use this to travel the world or maybe to find get a temporary job in the UK. You’ll also want to be selective when it comes to where you’re applying to, considering not just location and salary but also school accreditation, working conditions, hours and the physical space you’ll be working in. And, you’ll want to ensure you are ready to apply, interview, and start your job. For these, consider what advantages you can gain; a qualification (e.g. CELTA), relevant experience (ambassadorial roles, tutoring, coaching) but also using the fact that you have lived in the UK. While we wouldn’t make it a requirement to employ our tutors here at Kent, being a ‘native speaker’, or having lived for a while in the UK is still very much an advantage abroad.

Getting started on your EFL career.

The first step is to gain a qualification, equipping you with the skills and practical teaching experience you will need, such as the Cambridge CELTA, a globally recognised certificate and standard of teaching for new teachers, seen by employers as one of main qualifications. Our CELTA at Kent runs over 5 weeks from June, after exams.  We offer our CELTA students additional, bespoke sessions focusing on employability, with insider views, visits from local employers and recruiting managers to give you guidance on applying for jobs and interviews.

What can I do to be successful on the CELTA?

Some key skills you will need to become EFL teacher include communication skills, ability to explain ideas and language simply to a wide range of people, adaptability (do as the Romans do!) and a sense of adventure.

If you’re thinking about a career in EFL, the university offers a range of schemes that would give you a number of transferable skills and experiences that would help you get ahead.  For example, have you thought about becoming an Academic Peer Mentor or Student Ambassador or Helpers, taking an active role in a Society, coaching or mentoring to name a few? Learning another language may also be beneficial as, in addition to improving your language skills, you will also learn about the culture and what it’s like to be a foreign language student.  The Centre for English and World Languages at Kent (CEWL) runs a number of language courses and modules, which are open to Kent students.

To find out more about what it’s really like to be an EFL teacher and the CELTA course, come and meet the tutors at the Employability Fest on Work and Study Abroad Fair, Tuesday 24th October or Languages Jobs Fair, Friday 3rd November.

[1] Ammon, Ulrich in (2017) Language and Globalization. An Autoethnographic Approach. [Borjian, Maryam (ed.)]. London: Routledge

#EmpFest17 – Christie’s Education

As student recruitment officer at Christie’s Education, I travel internationally meeting students all over the world to explain some of the work and educational opportunities that are available.

Post – graduate study may be something to consider to fine polish your skills set, whilst enjoying one more year as a student. Employers and education providers like Christie’s come to university campuses to engage with the next generation of bright minds. Universities such as Kent offer stellar programmes and are highly ranked in university tables, and are, therefore, an extra lure for organisations such as ours, to attract the best students and employees.

Students should come to career development events in order to better inform themselves as to the range of opportunities available to them after university. The graduate world can be a daunting place and a minefield of online resources, but connecting with experts in their chosen field in person is an essential part of a graduate’s career search.

Our recommendations for undergraduates include visiting the right career development sessions offered by their universities and connecting with organisations that are relevant to them. Careful selection of particular institutions is a better option than overwhelming oneself with attending too many information sessions. Starting this research early whilst still a student a good idea, rather than waiting until just before graduation.

Christie’s Education welcomes you to join us at our presentation on the 23rd October – “Master’s study in Art, Law and Business and Art Industry career pathways”. @ChristiesEdu www.christies.edu

Kent Alumni: Startup Stories @unikentalumni

About you: Monifa Walters-Thompson graduated from Kent in 2013 with a  first class degree in Law. She spoke to BrighterBox, a graduate recruitment platform working with high growth startups, about her time at Kent and how it was the perfect springboard for kick-starting her career.

What were your first impressions of Kent?

I was apprehensive before arriving at Kent in 2010, but from my first day, and the Keynes College Pub crawl, I was hooked. That’s when I met my first friends at university, some of whom even studied law, like I did and those relationships continue today.

Law must have been an intensive course. What did you enjoy most about it?

I really enjoyed course work and had the freedom in third year to do two dissertations. The tutors were supportive and of course, the opportunity of working in the Kent Law Clinic was invaluable.

How much of a factor was your time at Kent in your career?

A huge factor. I am a barrister now, so without my education at Kent I’d be nowhere. I got a 1:1 in my degree, giving me that springboard as a BME student trying to get to the bar.  I don’t know if I would have achieved as much anywhere else.

You have also had experience working at an innovative background-checking startup called Onfido – what was that like? What was the best thing you did there?

Onfido was a big start up (3 countries, 100-120 employees). Everyone was kind and friendly and I had a lot of opportunities to take on different work. The best thing I did on a personal development level was travelling to the US and working with the team out there; helping to set up compliance in that office; and assisting Onfido in inter-country office communications. I had the chance to do and see so many new things during that time because I was given that opportunity. For Onfido, I think the best thing I did was honing in on communication between the customer success team to ensure everyone knew how to access information they needed to perform the role effectively. I worked with other team members to create a knowledge base of foreign documents which I hope is still in use today (!)

Sounds like a varied role! Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing right now?

I’m now a self employed barrister working in family law. It’s pretty busy, lots of reading and taking on board new information. Each day is definitely a challenge!

As someone with a range of experience, what advice would you give to a graduate looking to get into the startup world?

Just make applications and be ready to start from the bottom and work your way up. Use what you know and what you’re interested in to take you that step further and make yourself stand out. Creating a niche for yourself is really how to progress in a startup so always look for opportunities.

BrighterBox helps ambitious graduates kick-start their careers at exciting start-ups like Onfido.

The Arts can really make a difference

Kimberley Griffin, People United’s work placement student reflects on recent pieces of work that illustrate the value of the arts. Kimberley has just completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Kent.

I recently came across the newest report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Arts, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, which indicates all of the beneficial effects of the arts. It is a really informative and interesting read of the evidence found from 2 years’ worth of research that has a great synergy with the work of People United. The report claims that by engaging in any one of the visual or performing arts it can lead to improvements in a range of areas, including: depression, anxiety, loneliness, workplace stress, the management of long-term conditions, and the quality of life for stroke and dementia patients.

Whilst reading the report I kept thinking about how much People United’s work supports this and what has been inspiring to see recently is the documentary on Channel 4 that provides further practical support in line with the APPG report (which I can only hope will reach and inspire a wider population). The documentary called Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds follows a 6-week experiment investigating whether contact between pre-schoolers and pensioners can improve the physical and mental wellbeing of the pensioners through play, sport activities, and the arts. This relatively short period of intergenerational contact not only provided the pensioners and the pre-school children with a lot of enjoyment and enrichment in their lives, but it also led to improvements in the pensioners’ mood, strength, and mobility.

This documentary was fantastic to watch and I highly recommend it. It also got me thinking of the work People United did with Lunsford Primary School and the community care homes in their Treasure (Role Model) project. Similarly to the Channel 4 documentary, it involved connecting the younger generation with the older generation by encouraging them to think about people they treasure in their life and create related art pieces to share. The results from this project were very encouraging; both the care home residents and the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it increased the children’s kindness towards older people. From this, People United created their Hunting for Treasure resource, which I think is a fantastic and valuable source for schools to use. It provides inspirational and practical ideas to create a more kind and caring society through the arts.

So, if reading this blog, the report, or watching the documentary has left you feeling inspired download – for free – the People United resources here, to help make a difference and promote the importance of engaging in the arts!

– Find out more about People United at www.peopleunited.org.uk

(Photo by Hope Fitzgerald.)

Beer for breakfast?

During my work at Shepherd Neame’s Faversham brewery I was assigned to their laboratory. In the Analytical section of the lab, my tasks were to analyse beer samples to be sure they were in spec in terms of Co2, OG, PG, Bitterness, and polyphenol levels. Additional tests included carrying out head retention tests and VDKs to measure diacetyl and pentose levels in beer. In order to effectively determine these levels I had to become adept in the use of a number of machines, and the method of different analysis. The week I spent in the analysis section of the lab allowed me to gain the confidence of the operators and became proficient enough to be left to my own devices while taking samples around all areas of the brewery, conducting analysis of samples during different points in production, and carrying out my own projects within the lab. These projects included a joint venture with operators to measure effectiveness of yeast cultivation through use of different methods, and the making of my own homebrew using brewery supplies. I can say that the final result of this added to my experience several times over.

The second section I worked in was the microbiology section of the lab. During the week, I conducted yeast counts, cultivated different yeast strains through different methods, worked with different yeast agar mediums, and applied plating techniques using nanomembrane filters.

Continue reading

Don’t rock the boat, baby

This June, I took part in a two week internship with Library and Archives Team at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Here is a short account of my experiences, and how they will definitely help me in the future…

The main skill that I gained from my work experience at Chatham Historic Dockyard was an in-depth understanding of the heritage sector. On my first day, I was given a “behind-the-scenes” site tour, allowing me to understand the day-to-day operations of an internationally renowned museum. As a History student who is interested in a career in the heritage sector, the knowledge I gained was invaluable, and will certainly be useful when applying for full-time positions at museums and other heritage sites.

a

A photograph of me completing collections records audits – transferring paper copies into electronic copies

Another skill which I developed at the Dockyard was my project delivery skills. When I arrived at the Dockyard, I was assigned my own project as part of the wider project to refurbish the Library and Archives building. During my work experience, I drove my own project, learning how to organise my work and time effectively. Whilst working independently, I also communicated orally and in writing to other members of staff in an effective and professional manner. My project management and delivery skills are hugely transferable to many sectors, and will be sure to interest prospective employers.

Given the bulk of my work took place in the library and archives of the Dockyard, it is also unsurprising that I gained an understanding of archival work. Whilst I had visited a number of archives during my studies at Kent, I had little understanding of how they operated, and the work that goes into their upkeep. During my work experience I learned how archives store and organise their artefacts. I was able to get hands on in this work, by compiling databases and auditing library collections. I also learned how to the use the museum’s specialist collections software – Vernon CMI, and was able to input new artefacts to great success. This experience gave me great insight into libraries and archives, which will be useful when applying for jobs in the sector. My increased understanding of databases and office work is hugely transferable and will no doubt come in handy in whatever career I pursue.

c

The main library and archives room. Many collections are boxed up and ready to be moved to the soon-to-be-built new library.

Another skill which I was able to develop was events management. . As part of my work experience, I was part of a team which delivered a large scale educational event for several hundred school age children. My role included ushering groups around and communicating effectively with senior staff.

Arguably the most significant skill I gained from my work experience was confidence in networking.  During my work experience I was able to discuss my ambitions and career prospects with staff, gaining some useful advice along the way. I also gained a number of connections on my LinkedIn profile through my work experience, which will be useful in expanding my working network. My contact’s offer to provide me with a reference for job applications was also hugely helpful.

– George Croft is a recent University of Kent History graduate. Featured photo: The H.M.S. Gannet – A Royal Navy sloop built in 1878, one of three ships on site.