September 22, 2021, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

A fulfilling lifetime opportunity full of unimaginable experiences

Protus, a Masters in Public Health student, reflects on his Researcher Academy placement.

When I came to the UK to pursue my Masters in Public Health, I had two primary goals in mind; to gain more practical Public Health skills and get an opportunity to apply the skills learnt. Having an opportunity to experience the work environment in the UK was part of my agenda, and I prioritised looking for an opportunity that would give me the flexibility of continuing with my studies while at the same time gaining work experience in the UK context.

I first heard of the Researcher Academy’s postgraduate placement opportunities from a friend who had applied for them, and I was interested in learning more about the programme, which led me to their website. I realised they were offering placement opportunities for postgraduate students at the university, which I felt would help me achieve my goals. I kept checking on their link for the right opportunity. When I saw the advert regarding an NVivo training support placement, I applied for it without hesitation as it was in line with my qualitative research interest, and I felt that I stood to gain a lot from it.

Luck seemed to be on my side, and I got shortlisted for the interview with my first application. My experience with the interview process was unique as the interviewers who would later be my supervisors were friendly and made the interview seem like a normal conversation, yet so formal which was unique from all previous interviews I had attended.  This made me relaxed during the interview process, which helped me think over the interview questions. Besides, I felt that the interview was more practical as it assessed my understanding of NVivo and my communication skills. As fate will have it, I was offered the opportunity, which was the starting point of a life-changing experience.

~ Nvivo is a qualitative data analysis computer software package produced by QSR International.

In the first meetings with my supervisors, I was taken through an induction process regarding the placement, and my tasks were clearly outlined and the time I was supposed to work. I believe the induction process was key in providing me with the vital information I needed for the task.  My tasks generally involved developing content for the updated NVivo training course targeting researchers and postgraduate students at the University of Nottingham offered by the Researcher Academy.

My supervisors trained me to create content on Moodle, use the university’s Mediaspace, and create screencast videos using Camtasia software, which I was to use in my tasks. At first, it appeared a complex process, but I found the process easy to do after the training. This was facilitated by the useful links they shared that I could easily refer to if I got stuck with any task. In addition, they always reiterated that I could contact them for help whenever I needed further help.

Considering it was my first time doing such a task, I appreciated the opportunity to learn a new skill outside my academic background. Besides, it was an opportunity to explore my creativity skills. At first, the process appeared complicated, and I had to spend days editing the same video. However, with each subsequent training screencast video I created, I learnt a new feature and was able to apply new effects.

Generally, the placement was a great learning opportunity for me, and I did gain a lot more unique skills than I had expected. The team I was working with was supportive and one of the greatest I have ever worked with, as I could quickly get support whenever I needed any.

“The Researcher Academy placement allowed me to apply the skills learnt and gain new skills outside my comfort zone.”

Besides, the flexibility that came with the tasks was amazing. I had a flexible working schedule, working 10 hours a week spread over the days of my choosing. While working remotely can be challenging as you might be tempted to postpone tasks, having a schedule helped me prioritise, and I managed to stick to my work schedule on most occasions.

The weekly meeting with my supervisors was helpful as I received feedback on the tasks completed. Besides, it was always an opportunity to reflect on the tasks I had covered so far and helped plan for the subsequent tasks. However, nothing is without challenges, as I struggled to fit in the virtual working space without physical supervision. Setting up a schedule and reminders on my calendar regarding my working hours helped overcome this.

The University of Nottingham gave me a chance to learn valuable and marketable research skills. The Researcher Academy placement allowed me to apply the skills learnt and gain new skills outside my comfort zone.  I can sum up the placement as a fulfilling lifetime opportunity full of unimaginable wonderful work experiences and lifetime transformation.

I highly recommend the Researcher Academy’s placement opportunities for any postgraduate student interested in learning something new and gaining hands-on work experience. It is a place where you will rediscover your potential, gain rare on-demand market skills and discover the power of reflection. Your career life will never be the same again, as mine has just changed for the better, as with the new skills came a new work opportunity where the skills learnt will be crucial.

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