Right, well having seemed to have misplaced a fantastic (if I do say so myself) article I’d written on the umpteen reasons you really should study abroad, as a stopgap I am going to run through the several interesting developments that have transgressed as of late:
First, I applied for, and got, a teaching placement through the Student Associates scheme. I’m especially lucky as both of my degree subjects are shortage areas, so I think I’m going to be useful to someone. Everyone I know seems to be a teacher; it’s one of those career options that keeps pulling at me, and I thought the best thing to do was get out there and actually try it.
Any hints and tips for future applicants? Admittedly I only know how to frame this from a science subject-based perspective, but I hope the main principles apply. I think the main thing is being well apprised of why you want to (or think you want to) teach. It’s not for everyone; most teachers I know do it for the job satisfaction, which in the end, with all the hard work teaching entails, is the one thing that will get you through.
Experience working with young people is especially useful – I’ve gained plenty of this through volunteering for open days in the school of Chemistry, and through what essentially boils down to networking. You’d be surprised what your lecturers get up to when they’re not boring the pants off you in class: it’s worth asking about for any connections, such as involvement with relevant groups (the British Science Association, for example).
Also for science, maths and engineering undergrads, working as a STEM ambassador is highly recommendable. Do anything and everything to get experience with people and in your chosen field; being a people person is imperative as teaching is not exactly for the faint of heart!
I am also about to apply for an internship in technology transfer (which links initial research to commercial applications) with the Wellcome Trust which looks especially fascinating. There’s an interesting selection of internships offered, some of which I didn’t even realise were areas that had separate jobs.
Failing all this, once I’m back in Newcastle, I reckon I’m just going to approach as many local companies as possible and ask for work experience or internships, my logic being that it doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst they can do is say no. Really excited: the summer’s not accounted for yet, so anything could happen. Wish me luck …