Tag Archives: job

CRCC Asia Internship in Shenzhen: Part 3. Projects, Gains and Departure

(If you haven’t, check the first and second part of my latest blog series ‘CRCC Internship in China’ before reading this one)

My internship at SZOIL dominated my stay in China. The shifts were Monday to Friday, from 9:30 to 17:30, with some voluntary extra time and a couple of weekend activities. I had very nice colleagues, not just my fellow CRCC interns, but the whole team working at SZOIL, from the regular Chinese staff members, to three other student interns from China, Nepal and Sri Lanka. While each of us worked on our own projects, we often lent a hand to each other, or had a break from one and did something different for a while (which is how I ended doing the variety of tasks mentioned below). Moreover, one of SZOIL’s regular workers, whom supervised my work for the GHL, taught us how to use some of the machines in the lab. I only used the laser engraver and cutter, as 3D printing required designing and that’s something I’m awful at.

Continue reading CRCC Asia Internship in Shenzhen: Part 3. Projects, Gains and Departure


My Second Term at University: Final Grade, Volunteering, Working and Others

(Before reading this post I recommend you to read the previous one linked to this topic, “My First Term at University: Independence, Studying, Socialising & Wellbeing”.)

The last four months of my first year in university went by quickly. I had a mixture of seminars, workshops and lectures every week, together with daily readings. Lectures are my preferred teaching method. Seminars and workshops are nice now and then, but I don’t feel like interacting with people constantly and the sessions can be exhausting. My modules for the second term were: Institutions of Aid, Global Politics of the Environment, Key Thinkers in Development and Issues in Development. Key Thinkers in Development was my favourite one, I liked learning about different theorists every week. I also discovered intellectuals I want to learn more about, such as Frantz Fanon and Naila Kabeer.

As part of my assessments, I had to write two 1000-words concepts notes (Key Thinkers in Development), do a group presentation (Issues in Development), complete a 2000-words essay (Global Politics of the Environment) and take two unseen exams (Issues in Development and Institutions of Aid). My results for the concept notes were the most disappointing ones: 64 and 61 (out of 100). The grades aren’t bad, they are equivalent to 2:1. The problem is, I worked hard on those short essays, I even sought feedback after getting just 64 in the first one, but ended up getting 61 in the second one. I was upset because I saw no progress from my previous concept notes.

On the contrary, the 2000 words essays went great, I spent a lot of time in it and I got a 70! The group presentation also went well, I had 71, despite my reluctance to do group work due to my individualistic tendencies. And, startlingly, the two exams were the best bit of my results: I had 72 and 84. My average grade for the whole academic year ended up being 69%, 1% off my goal, a first (the highest degree classification in UK). Nevertheless, I’m happy with this mark: I passed the year and improved from my first term to the second one. Taking into account how tough things were due to my poor emotional wellbeing (I had to take a week off lessons and put off exam revisions till a week before each exam), I’m glad I made it and didn’t drop out or fail.

When comes to life outside the academic world, I spent a few hours a week volunteering for my local Red Cross division. I applied and got accepted to be a “Project Research Assistant” on November 2015 and I went to the Red Cross office to work most Fridays till June 2016. My key role was carrying out a project as part of the Red Cross’s “Responding to Financial Crisis” program: building links between foodbanks / food aid providers and the organisation. I completed it with another volunteer, who was a third-year student in the same university and school as me. Our tasks included: project management, emailing / calling and visiting foodbanks / food aid providers, creating databases and directories, researching and producing a leaflet with all the data and information gathered.

My Red Cross starter pack

Carrying out the project was a stimulating experience, my colleague and I were given huge flexibility, but also huge responsibility: we worked under minimal supervision. I tend to work better as an individual, yet the teamwork went great. My colleague was very nice and working with her was a pleasure, plus we often talked about non-volunteering related issues, such as our studies and our personal lives, during our breaks/free time. We bonded well.

Although it was not a remunerated position, I gained a lot from this opportunity: I acquired administrative skills and experience working with a non-profit organisation (perfect for my degree). I also participated in a 3-day foundation training course, in which I learnt about the Red Cross, humanitarian work, first aid, emergency response, supporting people in crisis, emotional wellbeing, safeguarding, self-care and responding to psychological distress. On top of everything, it was rewarding being able to help with a cause close to my heart and personal experiences (financial crisis).

Volunteering was not the only extracurricular activity I did during the last term: on March 2016 I found a temporary salaried job! I was very lucky to get it, I saw the advertisement on the careers hub of my university the day the vacancy ended. I swiftly sent my CV on an email, together with a short message about how I was fit for the role. I was amazed when I was invited to an interview and later given the position, but knowing that my personal-just-for-a-hobby blog made me stand out and get the job was the best part!

For three months I worked as a ‘Research Support Assistant’ for the World Association for Sustainable Development (WASD) and Science Policy Research Unit of my university’s School of Business, Management and Economics. My boss was a nice man and working for him was a good experience. My tasks included: desk research and data collection, database creation (Excel), website management (WordPress), social media management, article writing and email communications. It was a homebased position with casual meetings now and then. The aims of my role were improving the social media presence of the organisation and updating the information on its experts’ directory, which I think met. At least my boss seemed pleased with what I did.

I’m very happy I was given this opportunity, I got experience working for a global sustainable development organisation and my salary was nice (nearly double the amount of the minimum wage). Furthermore, I liked my boss’s vision and the goal of WASD, which is “to promote the exchange of knowledge, experience, information and ideas among academics, scholars, professionals, policy makers, industry and students to improve the mutual understanding of the roles of science and technology in achieving sustainable development all over the world”. The organisation and he made huge efforts to include people from non-Western countries in their work, from conferences to publications. I loved this aspect of working for WASD, because development and sustainability are often too based on Eurocentric ideas, even though many decisions taken affect primarily non-Western countries.

One of my aims whilst at university is, outside my lesson hours, gaining knowledge and skills for a future career in development, sustainability and/or social change. I have been able to do this not just by volunteering and working, but also by attending non-mandatory conferences / talks on contemporary topics, completing free online courses on subjects that my degree isn’t covering (deeply), and learning new languages.

I went to three talks during the year: ‘EU Migration and Refugee Crisis Roundtable’, ‘How can Diasporas Contribute to their Continent? Africa as a Case Study’ and ‘Asma Elbadawi (poet, opening act) and Akala (rapper, main lecturer) for Sussex Decolonizing Education Week – A talk on Hip Hop and Shakespeare’. I also participated in one conference set in my university, ‘Decolonising Education: Towards Academic Freedom in Pluriversality’. I completed three free online courses: ‘Psychology of Political Activism: Women Changing the World’ by Smith College, ‘Anthropology of Current World Issues’ by the University of Queensland, and ‘Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression’ by Amnesty International. And I enrolled on evening beginner lessons of Arabic while casually studying French and Portuguese on the side.

Although this might sound like a lot, I wasted a lot of time this academic year. Not just because of my poor emotional wellbeing, but because of procrastination and laziness. My goals for next year are attending more talks and conferences, catching up on my online courses and taking my language classes more seriously. I would also like to get actively involved in a couple of societies, campaigns or community work opportunities related to social issues or politics. Nevertheless, I probably won’t volunteer or work regularly (unless a really good opportunity knocks on my door or I find myself in severe financial hardship).

Last of all to mention is my social life, which was barely active for the same reasons as the first term. I only went out towards the end of the year, to have dinner with some friends before they left to their respective home countries and to attend an end-of-year ball organised by the Development Society in my university, in conjunction with others. Both events were pleasant and fun. I also hanged out a couple of times with a friend who does the same degree as me. We have various things in common, so is easy to talk with her about personal issues and be understood / understand her.

The only new thing I did on the second term was attend social basketball sessions on Sunday now and then, which were very enjoyable and I want to continue attending on the upcoming academic year. I like playing basketball a lot, I prefer it as an exercise activity to going to the gym and it helps to improve my mood. Indeed, improving my mood, or better said, mental health and emotional wellbeing, was one of my goals for the term. That’s why I attended counselling sessions every Tuesday for six weeks (the huge step I mentioned on my previous post about my life in university). Nonetheless, I don’t want to go in details about this, I will leave it for an upcoming post (and this time it is really coming).

(PS: If you want to have a look at more pictures of my time at university, check this link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/134519211@N08/albums/72157662839553059)

My #Bestof2015

2015 finally came to an end. This year went by so fast! I’m glad it did,  it was a very hard one. However, I won’t use this blog post to dwell on the negatives. Why? Because I have realised that my happiness depends on my attitude towards what’s going on in my life, rather than on the events and actions that occur.  I can’t change the aspects of my life that hurt me and trouble me, and I suppose it is fine since life isn’t meant to be perfect.

Anyways, I want to start 2016 in a positive spirit, so I want to use this post to talk about the good things that happened to me in 2015. Here they are:

  1. After getting two unconditional offers and three conditional ones, I got into university: the best one in the world for my course!
  2. I’m enjoying my course in university more than I ever thought I would. I’m learning a lot.
  3. I’m finally independent! I live on campus away from home.
  4. I had great results in college: A*A in my A-levels (Spanish and Biology) and A in GCSE Maths. Combined with the D*D*D* in my BTEC and my C in GCSE English, plus the outstanding award from last year, I can say college went well for me. Better than I ever imagined.
  5. I got an excellence scholarship for uni!
  6. I graduated from the leadership program Team v, after raising money to help homeless youth, doing workshops to raise awareness about young carers and using social media to encourage people to vote in the British elections. I also got a personal development scholarship for my efforts and success!
  7. I left my first part-time job on August, after nearly 2 years and managing to save more than £1000 for university!
  8. I finally hanged out with my bestie from Malaysia! (Highlight of the year!)
  9. I managed to be less shy and improve my social skills. Met great people through Team v and made great friendships in university. I no longer feel like if I’m incapable of having a decent conversation.
  10. I spent a lot of quality time with my young siblings during the summer.
  11. My songwriting and poetry skills improved a lot. More and more people keep reading and praising what I write.

Those are the best things that happened to me in 2015, some more special than others. Before I end this post, I want to dedicate a few lines to my closest friends, the people who have supported me during this harsh year. You know who you are, so you don’t need to be named. Maybe I met you in school in Spain, maybe I met you through volunteering in England. Maybe we don’t talk every week, maybe we talk everyday. Maybe I don’t see you in person often, maybe I have never seen in you person. Yet you are always there as no one else is. This probably sounds corny, but you know how I am. I just don’t know what I would do without you. The amount of emotional support I have received from you is too much to be measured. Thanks for staying besides me even when I acted weird, rude or silent. Thanks for understanding me and loving me despite of my mistakes. Thanks for being there to listen to my rants. Thanks for not forgetting about me and keeping in touch, despite the distance. Thanks you. I promise I will try to be a better friend in 2016, as I used to be before.

And with this post, 2015 ends for me.

Happy New Year!

Emilie 🙂

#10 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer

Volunteering is an activity in which not everyone engages but everyone should do. And here is why:

1) It is rewarding and inspiring: you help others selflessly and you feel good about what you do, because you receive positive feedback about your actions in most cases.

2) It makes you involved within society: when you volunteer, you are part of a network of people that collaborate towards the improvement of their community.

3) It helps to maintain a good mental health: volunteering boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem because it gives you a sense of purpose; it makes you realise you are important and you are full of potential.

4) It expands your social circles: while volunteering, you meet a lot of new people, including possible friends for life.

5) It offers you the possibility of living new experiences: thanks to volunteering you can try different activities you have never done before, and you will live different stories every day.

6) It increases your skills in a wide range of areas: leadership, communication, writing, numeracy, project management, evaluation, customer care… Depending on your role, you will develop different skills while adding knowledge to your brain.

7) It enhances your job prospects: while having good grades is deemed as imperative to get  a job nowadays, volunteering involves practical learning, and employers don’t overlook it. In fact, volunteering is golden and it will make you stand out of the crow, because most people fulfill the academic standards for jobs, but not everyone has practical experience and not everyone volunteers.

8) It makes you active: volunteering is  a good way of being active and preventing disengagement from society due to reasons such as unemployment, age, illness… And being active helps to have a healthier lifestyle in order to have a longer life span.

9) It is fun and it keeps you busy but relaxed: sometimes it is imperative to break out from the routine and do something without the pressure of “getting paid” or “getting good grades”. Volunteering is a entertaining way of doing this. You can choose in where to volunteer and how, and if you are passionate about your role, you will have a great time carrying it out without worrying about money and exams.

And lastly,

10) It is about supporting social/environmental causes: in most cases, you will volunteer for a charity that works towards a specific goal, such as raising awareness about mental health, providing aid for people suffering from violent conflicts, working towards the end of modern slavery… You can choose what cause to support, and in that way, you will make a difference.