Title: PSA Student of the Year Nominee 2017 Emily Aveyard
Hi, my name is Emily, I am a final year Physics student at the University of Birmingham and I have just completed the PSA (Advanced) award.
Which activities did you undertake in order to achieve the PSA?
Whilst at university I have been involved with a range of activities that have really helped me become more employable. In my first year I decided to get heavily involved in the Physics department, so I became a student rep. I also worked as a student ambassador. I additionally wrote for my college newsletter contributing to monthly articles about what I have been up to, and I also worked for the 'Green Impact Project' (working with lecturers and other students to make the Physics department more environmentally friendly). After my first year however, I realised what I wanted to do after university, which is to work in medical physics, and I thought about what skills I would need for this job role (which is working in the NHS with patients). I realised I would need to have some experience of working with patients in hospitals so I decided to take on some volunteering activities, including volunteering at Birmingham Women’s Hospital in the radiology department. Additionally I realised I would need to improve my science communication skills in order to be able to explain to patients and doctors at the hospital about the work I would be doing of a scientific nature so I firstly decided to volunteer at the British Science Festival and at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC to understand a bit more about science communication. Then I secured a two week placement in the visitor services team at ThinkTank Science Museum where I actually got to interact directly with the public. I later developed this using the skills I had gained and the contacts I gained to organise a three month internship the following summer at Think Tank in their Education Team where I actually helped to deliver workshops and outreach events and was given the opportunity to design my own workshop as part of this.
What skills have you gained?
The skills I have gained from the activities I have been involved with during my time on the PSA have been really varied and I think can be applied to many different situations. Working at Birmingham Women’s Hospital has really helped develop my communication skills. I have had to be incredibly empathetic and flexible when dealing with patients who were quite stressed out at the hospital, and it’s really taught me about the importance of being sort of representative of a hospital and treating patients with respect and dignity where possible. My work at the Science Museum has definitely given me an incredible array of professional skills when I’ve been there. I’ve had to be incredibly organised, having to run my own workshop involved me having to plan out all the activities I would need to do in the limited time I had at the museum and ensure they were filmed before the time I left. Of course I was working in science communication so it’s really helped me learn to be able to speak to a wide range of audiences, people who came to the museum were quite young (and had families and school audiences), it has really allowed me to tailor who I am speaking to and adapt the way I am speaking to people from a variety of backgrounds. It’s also just given me lots of confidence. Being enrolled on the PSA has given me confidence because it’s allowed me to realise how many different skills I do have and how I can draw up on these in different situations. When I’ve been writing job applications it has made me more confident in my own ability because I have realised all the different strengths I have and how these could be useful in a job role in the future.
Do you have any advice for students who are thinking about enrolling onto the PSA?
Any students who are thinking of enrolling onto the PSA, I’d say if you were thinking about it you should definitely get involved, you have nothing at all to lose from being involved, but so much to gain. It’s likely you will be involved in activities at University which will contribute PSA points, but the PSA really allows you to think about what you have learnt being involved with these and then be able to articulate what you have learnt to employers. My tips would be definitely to log all the activities that you have done, I myself have a book where I write down what I have been involved with, the contact details of the relevant people and whether I have banked my PSA points for it or not - and this is also useful as it serves as a reference when I’m applying for jobs to see what I have done, and can pick and choose which activities I think would be relevant for the job, and also have the contact details of the employers to hand. My other tip would be to attend as many of the PSA short skills sessions as you can. These are sessions that have a particular skill in mind and it really helps you think more about that skill, about situations when you may have learnt it. It really shows you how an employer will want to see that skill demonstrated both in an application form and in an interview.