During my first year on the Environmental Health degree I knew I wanted to build on my experience. I decided to look for work placements that would help me build skills by putting into practice what I learnt on the course. I contacted Dr. Vesna Greaves who used to do my food safety audits when I worked as a Restaurant Manager at Barburrito and I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to do a work placement with her shadowing audits.
After a couple of weeks on my work placement I was offered a full-time position with the team at VG Technical!! Gaining lots of experience from completing audits and getting workplace feedback whilst undertaking my studies has been invaluable. I complete audits across the country for a range of recognisable companies such as Turtle Bay, Rockfish and 7 Bone. One day I could be in Eastbourne, the next Torquay and the next Northampton. I’ve been to a range of places that I have never been before thanks to the job. Recently I’ve also been auditing more on the manufacturing side of the supply chain, which is a steep learning curve, but an invaluable experience to be grabbed with both hands. Getting out of your comfort zone is important if you want to make improvements.
One of my main worries initially was if I could manage the travel, additional job specific learning, completing audits and writing reports without compromising my studies and degree. It has helped that the job is directly relevant to the course, topics that come up on the degree are regularly applied during the job. The job is almost like a form of revision, embedding all the key principles and topics that have been taught during the course and bringing it to life in the workplace.
However, it is important to be organised in order to get the most out of the course and experiences at University. For me, it helps to:
- Have a plan
for what you want to achieve in the week. It will help you remain focused and prevent distractions. I use the calendar app on my iPad to plan work, revision, training, meetings etc for the week.
- Big fan of to-do lists!
incorporate time to complete into your plan to help stay on track and make sure you don’t forget anything!
- Stay proactive
don’t procrastinate and wait to complete things last minute. Start things as soon as you can so that you aren’t in a situation where you are rushing. Completing work in bite size chunks helps me to maintain focus. It can be difficult to catch up when you start to fall behind, stay ahead and it will be much more enjoyable.
- Don’t be afraid of trying different things
I’ve had the opportunity to travel to the Lovely Professional University in India last summer and will be travelling to Vietnam in April, both of which are funded by the University. If you stay organised and proactive you will be able to make time for these invaluable cultural experiences.
- Make time for family and friends
even if you are busy. Quite often I find taking that time out for personal things can be like pressing the restart button and help refine your focus and motivation.
My advice to any other student is to make the most of all the opportunities within the University, there is so much support for work placements, international travel and even people that you can speak to for any worries or problems you may have. Make the most of it and grab them with both hands!