February 23, 2022, by Leah Sharpe
Taking Part in Work Experience in the UK
By Yun-San, English Language and Literature international student
What were your original career ideas when joining the university?
When I started at the University of Nottingham I planned to further my studies and become an academic, but I have now decided to be more flexible with my career plan. I’d still like to complete a masters programme and then seek employment in the UK, and I am currently open to the idea of applying for any opportunities in the marketing, publishing, and heritage sectors.
How did you become interested in taking part in work experience activities?
After speaking to career advisers within the university, I realised that work experience is helpful for international students looking to stand out in their job applications. I applied for a paid internship last summer, and although my application was not successful, I found some alternatives and participated in the internship experience in marketing hosted by Bright Network and the Common Purpose Leadership Programme.
I was also aware of the Nottingham Advantage Award, as I had completed a module already from studying at the China campus before arriving in the UK. I was excited by the wide range of module choices and in autumn 2021 I applied for and secured a place on the ‘Experience Heritage’ module, which incorporates a 35-hour work experience placement with a local heritage institution.
Can you tell us a little bit about your work experience?
My work experience placement was with the Canalside Heritage Centre, in Beeston, nearby to the university campus. My project was to research a former resident of the area, Elizabeth Nutt Harwood, who lived in the Victorian era. In my project I researched the life and times of Elizabeth, including using different resources such as excerpts from her diary, to bring the character to life in the digital age via my placement host’s social media platforms. My placement was for 35 hours, however, my host from the Canalside Heritage Centre has invited me to carry on my work there on a voluntary basis, which I would like to do should my academic workload permit.
What did you enjoy about taking part in work experience in the UK?
I really enjoyed the opportunity to engage more with the local community and learn more about British culture and local history. Without the experience, my life would be primarily confined to the university and usual student areas in Nottingham. This opportunity has in many ways fulfilled my expectations when first applying to study abroad, in terms of having more interaction with local culture and the non-student community.
How do you think your work experience in the UK will help you in your future career?
I have learned a range of useful work-based skills, such as research and communication skills. I have also learned to be flexible with my data research since reconstructing the lives from generations ago with a different census system can be quite challenging! Overall, this module offered the opportunity for me to integrate the transferable skills I’ve learned in my degree programme and any tasks assigned to me.
What advice would you give other students in a similar situation to you?
For my fellow 2+2 students, participating in the Nottingham Advantage Award modules on both campuses is a great way to compare and contrast the different work cultures in China and the UK. You can expand your horizons in different sectors and connect with future career prospects. For international students in general, I think work experience is a valuable opportunity to polish communication skills in the British work context and enhance transferable skills gained from the degree programme.
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