Voluntary Position – Volunteer at the Bilingualism Summer School 2012 – Bangor University

Contributor: Callum

What? Volunteer for the Bilingualism Summer School at Bangor (University) 2012.

Why did you choose this place? My reason to assist with the Summer School was down to th experience it would give me, the Summer School had top names in the field of Bilingualism travelling into Bangor and this is something of which I wanted to be part. Names such as, Fred Genesee, Cheryl Frenck-Mestre, Ofelia Garcia, and Bonnie D. Schwartz were to attend, amongst many other experts in bilingualism research.

How did you find the application process? The application process was very easy, by this I mean there were no forms, or references to go around retrieving, Patrick Rebuschat (Summer School co-ordinator) asked students from the School of English Language and Linguistics to help with volunteering, we had around twelve or so helping which was around enough.

What do you do here? Throughout the two weeks of the Summer School the job of the volunteers was to make sure everything ran smoothly, and that visiting guests were content. Being more specific, these duties included helping lecturers set up their classes, escorting guests to lecture rooms, and taking them for lunch post-lectures, assisting with the set-up of events for keynote speeches and poster sessions. Furthermore, a top friend and I were asked to help a partially sighted student for the duration of the Summer School. As you may suspect, we aided this student around, making sure to keep her safe, though we did have her guide dog on hand also! This alone was an entirely new experience for both Fay (aforementioned friend) and I, but we both were able to make a new friend! Agata (said partially sighted student) remarked later that our assistance and care had made her stay in Bangor a very enjoyable one. So that was a very nice reward from the Summer School! The good things: Overall the Summer School was a great thing to have participated in; volunteering meant getting the tuition for next to nothing. Granted we couldn’t attend all advertised lectures, as we had to be in other places helping out and such. However, not just myself, but the rest of the volunteers did a great job, so it all balances out! All the same, to have been able to interact with a whole host of new people, from a vast range of different backgrounds all to unite and discuss and share ideas about bilingualism was a very worthwhile thing indeed! Though some of the talk at the pub may have sometimes strayed away from this, ha.

The bad things: If I’m honest, the schedule for the day was a little packed, which did result in long days, and if you add getting up at eight in the morning it made for a lot of tired people. Though it must be said it was the first time that this Summer School has been run at Bangor, so timing of the day may be altered for any future Summer Schools…that or I simply do not have the stamina to last a long day.

Anything else we should know: One additional thing I feel is worth mentioning is that early into week one I created a Facebook and Twitter page (though the latter was not a great success) to bring everyone together and to keep guests informed of events and ongoings throughout the two weeks. The Facebook page proved quite the success; as people made friends on Facebook as they do and can stay in contact with people they may have otherwise not had chance to see again.

Second noteworthy thing was that I was able to present my BA dissertation at one of the poster sessions, this was quite a unique opportunity that presented itself and I am very happy that I took it! Though my throat became hoarse from all the explaining that needed to be done, I was very proud to be presenting in the same room as people older than myself who had more years of experience in linguistics/ bilingualism.

Final thing to inform you of was that the second day of the Summer School was in fact my graduation from Bangor University (Linguistics BA; 2;1 for the record) safe to say I was unable to help out with most of the events on this day!

— If there is anything you have read from this you would like to know more about, feel free to email me at, callumrobsonsu@hotmail.co.uk, all the same you are very welcome to tweet me @CallumRobson

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Voluntary Position – Peer Guide for the School of English Language and Linguistics – Bangor University

Contributor: Callum

What? Peer Guide for the School of English Language and Linguistics at Bangor University; 2010 – 2012.

Why did you choose this place? My Peer Guide when I was but a mere Fresher did an excellent job of helping me settle during my first ever week at Bangor. By this token, I felt a motivation to return the favour as it were, and wanted to give back so applied to become a Peer Guide.

How did you find the application process? For what I was required to do it was a pretty standard set of affairs, a basic application form with a required reference too. That was not too hard to get together; after all the “Peer Guiding Scheme” and academic schools are just wanting some competent, helpful people to be Peer Guides; so they wouldn’t make the application process too daunting. Additionally being part of a smaller school, we only usually get twenty or so wanting to be Peer Guides anyway, this is usually about the right number for the amount of Freshers we get (approximately sixty to eighty).

What do you do here? The principal focus orientates around “Freshers’ Week” (or Welcome Week as it’s also known), that time when, as a lot of you will have done, landed at your University and needed some guidance to assist with getting around, and otherwise settling in. Through a lot of planning, our school provides a week of events to help welcome and integrate new students to Bangor, this includes from quizzes, trips around the area as well as the occasional trip to the pub. You get the idea I’m sure, like most Freshers’ Weeks at University the aim is fun with a side of reassurance, however this system allows for students to be well acquainted with their course mates, as well as having someone look out for them, before their first year has truly begun. Of course, the work does not stop the minute Freshers Week ends, it is important to keep in contact with the new students during the year, I, for example, usually invite my Freshers out for a few drinks at the end of their first year of study, then once again a few months later, just to catch up, and check they’re in good stead.

The good things: For me, this is all down to the relationships formed between, firstly, working with the Peer Guides as a unit. A team which have a goal to create a successful Freshers’ Week for all involved, and that in itself is a rewarding prospect. I should make mention here that I came up with a ‘mentoring’ scheme
within the Peer Guides, that is to say the ‘senior’ Peer Guides are paired with a ‘junior’ Peer Guide. The idea of this is that, in some way like with the Peer Guide/Fresher relationship, the ‘junior/senior’ Peer Guide relationship allows new to learn from experienced. Of course, this is a two way thing, new Peer Guides
may themselves bring new ideas to the front which are always welcome, and these can initially be discussed with their senior Peer Guide, before being brought
up in meetings, as an example. I must of course make mention of the Freshers themselves, as this is what the scheme is here for! It is actually a very pleasing experience to aid your Freshers through their life at University, helping them settle in, and everything in between.

The bad things: I won’t go into anything specific here, all I’ll say is you’re working with people, so that’s going to be the main source of anything going wrong. All I’ll say is make sure everyone on the Peer Guide side of things, everyone has planned things out and you should generally be ok. Otherwise, Freshers’ Week can be a little tiresome with a lot of running around involved, but this is what you signed up to, so you can’t really complain. And at the end of the day the positives out-weigh the negatives with this sort of things.

Anything else we should know: If your University does not have a Peer Guiding scheme and you feel it would improve Freshers’ Week, bring it up with your respective school/University and make some inquiries! I have found it a fantastic two years’ worth of experience, working with both Freshers and Peer Guides that will certainly be high up on my written CV!

Internship – PR Intern – Firefly Communications, London

Contributor: Ceri

Where? Firefly Communications, London

What? PR internship

Why did you choose this place? It was a family connection – a relative of mine is the CEO. Luckily I also have relatives living in the city who had a spare room, which meant I could afford to be nearby without the costs of a long commute.

How did you find the application process? It was more a case of keeping an eye out for possibilities; the company weren’t specifically looking for newcomers and I wasn’t looking to go into PR, or for an unpaid position, but utilising what I had easy access to was very beneficial in the long run.

What did you do there? I was an all-rounder – everything from data entry and making tea to calling clients and installing printers. But I was asked to ghost-write an experience blog for one of our clients’ service, and after that I was able to draft blogs for the clients themselves, and proofread ones written by my colleagues. Later on I was appointed co-ordinator for the newsletter and was responsible for writing summaries of the blogs. It was mostly writing to a brief but as I was given more responsibility I was able to be more creative with what I was given.

The good things: The general office experience was good preparation for anything I end up doing, and it was the first nine-to-five job I’d ever had, which really gave me a sense of what the ‘real’ working world was like. Because the job role was so diverse it also gave me access to a huge amount of transferable skills I never would have considered seeking out myself.

The bad things: At the back of my mind I knew that PR wasn’t what I wanted to do, and at times I was frustrated that I was putting so much time and effort into something I just wasn’t passionate about. The living arrangements were also stressful at times – I was incredibly lucky being able to live rent-free in the city, but it was restrictive, and there was no other way I could have afforded living costs while working unpaid in such an expensive area.

Anything else we should know: Never pass up an opportunity to do something you didn’t plan to do, because it might end up being exactly what you always wanted. And even if it doesn’t – as it didn’t for me – you’ll know, and you’ll get to work with some amazing people and see what it’s like for them to be passionate about their career. It’ll make you all the more keen to find your own place in an industry. It also means you get a hugely diverse skill set and experience on your CV, and you never know where you’ll be able to make use of knowing how to link a non-network A3 printer to twelve computers.

Work Placement – Student Ambassador – UWE

Contributor: Amy

Where? UWE
What? Student Ambassador
Why did you choose this place? I am a student at UWE and wanted to make the most of opportunities that are only available whilst at university before it is too late.
How did you find the application process? Easy. I had to fill in an online application form stating previous relevant experience and why I wanted to be an ambassador. Then I attended a group interview and training.
What do you do here? I help at events that happen at the university. I have assisted at graduation ceremonies, school visits to campus and generally directing people around the university. I helped over Freshers’ week, guiding Freshers around the university.
The good things: Good pay, flexibility (you are emailed different jobs and have the options of applying for it, or not. This was really good around exam time, as I wasn’t required to do a minimum number of shifts so I could concentrate on my studies), meeting other student ambassadors, working with a variety of people (school and college students, lecturers and academics, university staff) which I believe has improved my confidence in communicating with different people.
The bad things: The only bad thing I can think of is that getting shifts can sometimes be competitive as there are over 200 ambassadors at the university competing for the same jobs. However because I have never missed a shift, been late or haven’t pulled my weight, I am often chosen for the roles I apply for.
Anything else we should know: I would definitely recommend being a student ambassador!