Working for The Princes Trust

Physics grad Naomi Hyde currently works as Supporter Services Coordinator at the Prince’s Trust supporting young people in the United Kingdom to transform their lives. Through training programmes, practical and financial support and other tools, the organisation helps young people who are facing issues such as homelessness or mental health issues. In over forty years the Prince’s Trust has supported over 870,000 clients, with three in four moving onto employment, education, volunteering, or training.

She also shares her decision-making process

Why did you decide to apply for this role? 

“When I graduated, I decided to take some time to myself and rather than starting in a new role, increased my hours at a supermarket where I was familiar with the environment. Later, there were various reasons I chose to avoid applying for graduate schemes.

Firstly, during final year, I was faced with so many demands that I simply did not have the time to apply. For me, it was impossible to dedicate the time to both my degree and the extensive application processes. By the time I had finished my degree, the charity graduate schemes which appealed to me had closed. The schemes in this sector are also limited, where the roles may not fit your skill-set or interests. Personally, it was best to go straight into a role that I knew I would enjoy and add value.

Find out more about Naomi’s role here

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Conference for UG Women in Physics

Sara Evers shares her experience at the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

When a friend told me about the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, I decided to apply without knowing very much about it. The first surprise came when I got invited and shortly after found out that two other girls from my year were attending. We decided to book tickets for the same trains, and we ended up on a six-hour train journey to Oxford together.

Since our train left Edinburgh very early in the morning, we had a few hours in Oxford before the conference started and decided to visit some sights, including the History of Science museum, which fittingly included an exhibition of remarkable women in science. That evening, the conference started with a welcome reception and buffet. There we got to meet many of the other girls attending from all over the UK and Ireland.

The first full day of the conference started with a visit of Rutherford Appleton Laboratories (RAL), a national research facility, with a range of different departments and areas of research. The most exciting part for me was the particle accelerator ISIS, the onsite muon and neutron source. Apart from that, the facilities host a central laser facility, a space research and engineering department and many other interesting facilities. Apart from the tours, we also got a series of talks from several female engineers working at RAL, who told us about their work, how they got where they are today and also about internship and graduate opportunities at RAL.

In the afternoon, we got a talk from Professor Alexandra Olaya-Castro from UCL, who told us about her research and her inspiring career path and the challenges she faced along the way. After that we got to attend different workshop. I took part of a medical physics workshop. As someone who has always been interested in medicine and biology, being able to meet and talk to three medical physicists and getting lots of information about the different career options and training schemes was very insightful.

On the second day, we started off with two talks. The first speaker was Doctor Francesca Day, who is both a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge University and a stand-up comedian. She gave a talk about Science, Creativity and Stereotypes, talking both about her personal story and research and about general gender and inequality issues in Physics. The second speaker was Ms Carole Kenrick, a resident scientist working in primary schools in London, where she is trying to get young children invested and interested in science.

After the talks in the morning, we got a tour through some of the laboratories at Oxford University. I got to see a particle physics lab, where they worked on detectors for ATLAS, the particle accelerator and detector in Switzerland. We also saw a group working on producing solar cells out of biomaterials and some groups working on telescopes in the Astronomy department.

In the afternoon we got another talk from Dr Rain Irshad, who was talking about her career in space science, starting with her aim to become an astronaut and the many setbacks and changes in life, and how she ended up working at RAL space. Following her talk, there was a career panel, with six physicists who are now pursuing careers outside physics (e.g. Patent law, data science, government adviser). To me, this showcased the many opportunities I will have with a physics degree. The day ended with an informal chat with different scientists and PhD students at Oxford University, where we got to ask questions in a very relaxed atmosphere.

The conference ended on Sunday with a talk from Dr Suchitra Sebastian, talking about combining a career in physics with having a personal life and an academic panel. Attending this conference benefitted me in many different ways. Hearing from all the physicists about their work and their career path inspired me a lot. At the same time, I got to realise how many different career options there are with a degree in physics and how one can get into these different areas. On top of that, it was very motivating to hear about all the setbacks people had to overcome but still made it to where they are today. I now have a better understanding of what it means to do physics research both in academia and industry and what alternatives there are.

On a more practical level, I got to hear about several internship programmes, some of which I will definitely apply for next year, as well as information on postgraduate studies and funding, which will be very helpful in a few years’ time.

But the most inspiring aspect of the conference wasn’t even the great programme, but that I got to meet so many female physicists and physics students, all very passionate about this subject. Being used to usually having a male majority in every single lecture and workshop, sitting in a lecture theatre full of female physicists is quite an empowering feeling. Over the weekend, I got to meet so many great and inspiring people and made many great connections and friendships that will hopefully last for a long time. I’m very grateful to both the organisers of the conference, especially the main organiser Professor Daniela Bortoletto, and the School of Physics and Astronomy at Edinburgh University, who enabled us to attend the conference by covering our travel costs to Oxford.

Prosper – a student-run socially responsible finance fund – and how physics helps

Thanks to Duncan Harris, 4th year Physics & Music student for sharing his experience with Prosper

“Going into the third year of my Physics and Music degree I began to look for ways to use the skills I had been learning on my course for something beyond the realm of quantum mechanics. A friend pointed me in the direction of Prosper Social Finance, I applied to join and have been involved ever since.

Prosper is the UK’s first student run social finance fund, started by some students here at Edinburgh a couple of years ago. We take on student analysts and train them in the fundamentals of financial analysis, stock markets and sustainability assessment methods whilst they research companies who might be suitable for our fund. This culminates in a stock pitch to our panel of industry experts who select the best stocks to invest in with money from the University. We invest with a longer term view, holding our investments for 5 years after which we sell and take any of the profits and distribute them to social enterprises and charities in Edinburgh.

I joined with no investment experience, and one of the great strengths of Prosper is that it brings voices from all degree backgrounds to the table. I found the maths from my degree put me in a good position to understand all of the financial analysis, and the complex systems, analytical thinking helped me pull apart the messiness behind the sustainability issues facing companies today. I of course learned a lot as well, not least that there is far more complexity to sustainability than just net zero carbon targets and tote bags. What’s best is the programme and collaborative nature of the research allowed me to actually develop all of those skills that look great on a CV in a way that I feel I will definitely be able to apply in the future.

It has given me some great experience in an industry I would not have otherwise considered, and though I don’t think I will pursue a career in asset management specifically my time at Prosper has given me such a good foundation in finance, sustainable business practice and a broader approach to social issues that I feel well placed to pursue my interests in any of those areas.

We run the course each semester so if you’re looking to get involved in a project outside your degree within which you can build and apply your skillset, meet likeminded people and be involved in something that makes a difference I can’t recommend Prosper enough. I hope to see you there.”

To get involved with Prosper Social Finance follow the link to the website and apply there, or find us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

www.prospersocialfinance.co.uk

Alumni Insight – Working in the human side of technology

Like tech? Like people? Great introduction to life in user research

The Careers Service Blog

We’re delighted to share a #TechTuesday guest blog post from University of Edinburgh, Business and Law alumnus, Nicola Hancock. Nicola is a User Researcher within the User Centred Design team, Digital Transformation Division of the Scottish Government… read on for a great insight into the interesting role of User Researcher.

nicola h pic 1 While interviewing some people in their home, after an hour our session was ‘rudely’ interrupted by these two demanding attention.

I have been working in my current role for about 7 months and I’m really enjoying it. However, I wasn’t aware of a User Researcher role, when I left university and it took me a few years after graduating to find out this type of job existed.

I started out working in marketing and social media for a digital magazine, did some web-related work for a digital agency and moved on to office management at Nile, a service design consultancy…

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Work experiences stories

Two contrasting examples of work experience to share:

Lewis Lappin, a 4th year MPhys (Computational) student is working at GMV as a Robotics Systems Engineer, a placement he got from applying via the UK Space Agency’s SPiN internship programme

Phoebe O’Carroll-Moran is a 2nd year Mathematical Physics student. This summer she is using & developing her research skills within the Careers Service on two internal pieces of research:

  1. researching all the sectors that make up the Edinburgh City Deal and its data-driven innovation focus
  2. researching sport and physical activity opportunities in a collaboration with the link careers consultant for Moray House (& its sports and exercise degree programmes)

Rockets in Scotland

This was a great student-led event with opportunities for students and graduates. One of the UoE student hosts was Lewis Lappin who has just started an internship through the SPiN placements scheme. He is working this summer as a robotic systems engineer with GMV.

The Careers Service Blog

Alison Parkinson, Employer Engagement Adviser, and Susan Bird, Careers Consultant, share some useful insights from the recent National Student Space Conference.

The conference was organised by UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS), the UK’s national student space society and was hosted by the Physics and Astronomy society at the University of Edinburgh. The two-day conference brought together students, employers and speakers from a range of space-related fields.

UKSEDS Group 2019 National Student Space Conference: attendees, exhibitors, staff and some of the speakers. Image credit: UKSEDS

The UK Space sector

  • The UK space industry is seeing very ambitious growth. There are currently 130 organisations (companies, research organisations) in the UK space sector. This is an increase of 27% in the last two years and amounts to 9% of all UK employers.
  • The industry is essentially split into two segments: upstream and downstream. Upstream focuses on sending objects into…

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What to do if you’ve accepted the wrong job offer

This is the time of year when we get some students coming in anxious about a rejecting a job offer, especially if they have signed a contract when they want to accept a later offer. This blog post from colleagues at Warick University gives great advice that echoes what we say to students.

The Careers Blog

Everyone hopes that it will be possible to get an offer for the dream job, withdraw from any application processes still underway and settle down to wait for a start date. Sadly it doesn’t always work out this way. What do you do when you are offered a good job and the recruitment process for the dream job is still on-going?

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Physics and Astronomy to space engineering: a graduate’s story

Thanks to Jennifer Edwards from Lockheed Martin for her guest blogpost. It’s good to get an insight into where physics & astronomy can take you and how the knowledge and skills you develop can be applied.

I graduated from the University of Southampton in the summer of 2018 with a Masters Degree in Physics with Astronomy. When I began my degree, I was unsure as to what career path I hoped to end up on, but explored by doing two summer placements as an engineer during my studies.

Jennifer Edwards

The first was for Archangel Aerospace Ltd. as a Systems Integration Engineer working on UAV design, and the second working for Rolls-Royce as a Development Engineer. I found that I really enjoyed applying the Physics ‘textbook knowledge’ I had learnt, and that the critical thinking and analysis skills I had learnt on my degree benefited me hugely in my work.

Representing Lockheed Martin at UKSEDS student space conference

Lockheed Martin UK’s graduate scheme provides the opportunity to partake in four placements over a two-year period. Initially, I was concerned that going into an engineering company without having an engineering degree would hinder me or that I would find myself behind the other graduates, but that was not the case. As well as building technical skills and knowledge from across the company, the scheme provides the opportunity to develop skills such as management skills, application of the engineering life-cycle, and teamwork and communication skills. 

I started the graduate scheme in September 2018 as a Systems Engineer – an interdisciplinary field of engineering that primarily focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycle. My first placement involved modelling and simulation of re-entry vehicles, achieved by running bespoke prediction codes and statistical analyses. My Physics degree provided me with a good background level of knowledge of key physical phenomenon and some coding skills, however it was the ability to grasp new information quickly that was the most significant advantage.

I am currently working on operational analysis on a research and development project, for which I am relying heavily on my background physics knowledge, including optics and thermodynamics. As well as this, many of the key ‘soft’ skills I learnt during University are used daily, such as independent learning, time management and communication skills. I would recommend looking into engineering for any physicists who are interested in applying their scientific knowledge to real-life problems, enjoy working in a team and have a desire to learn and develop new skills.

Jennifer also told me:

I hope this gets people thinking about career options in engineering as there’s a big UK shortage!