What have you done in addition to your degree to enhance your employability and what do you feel you have gained from this?
Two days after finishing the final exam of my Master studies I got on a plane bound for South Korea, to begin a 10 week internship organised by IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience). This experience was genuinely a highlight of my life, especially regarding the development of my personal attributes and employability skills.
My internship was with KIER, the Korea Institute for Energy Research, in Daejeon, Korea. The Korean work ethic is renowned to be that of work hard, play hard, and that is precisely what it was. Every minute of my time was filled with work, socialising, and sometimes a little sleep!
In KIER's New and Renewable Energy Centre division I was given the freedom to find and carry out, with the full support of KIER, any project related to renewable energy in Korea that interested me greatest. With the consistent guidance and help of many people, and using world class resources only available at KIER, I obtained results that I once thought were beyond my reach, and that are of importance to the renewable energy industry.
Although the English abilities of my colleagues varied greatly, it was never a problem stopping me from connecting with everyone, and it is with these colleagues that many strong bonds have been built that I believe will last a very long time. It is incredible how a work night out, surrounded by people who could only understand 10% of my words while eating chicken feet with a side of silkworm pupae, turned out to be some of the best nights that I have ever experienced.
During the internship I lived in hall accommodation built by the institute alongside Koreans and many others from all parts of the Globe. With these people, we together made sure that every night was one to remember.
Most Fridays I hurried to the trains and made my way to Seoul so that I could bust some moves in one of the most famous districts in the world, Gangnam! These nights, and the ensuing weekends were often spent with other IAESTE internees in Korea. IAESTE in Korea did a great job every weekend of organising events that bought all internees and many Korean students linked with IAESTE, together.
The truth is that I could write a book compiling all my stories from this internship, but here I have to limit my words. My hope is that anyone reading this who would be interested in all that I did, will simply apply for an international internship and witness these experiences for themselves. We all can imagine the benefits that any international exposure can bring, such as the personal confidence that can be built, a communication skills boost and enhancement of cultural awareness, never forgetting the employability attractiveness that only such an experience can attain. Knowing this there is really no reason why anyone should not strive to obtain any kind of global experience.
I am very appreciative of all who made my experience what it was, and for the people at KIER that continue to provide me immense support as I now near submission for publishing of a research paper based on the results I obtained during this internship. I hope that others do seize the opportunities that lie in front of them and have as great a time as I did on my international adventure.
Making use of Careers, Employability and Skills
QUB Careers, Employability and Skills was of great help to me during my studies.
I attended numerous 'Skills for Success' sessions, from assessment day preparation days to application enhancement techniques sessions.
I also attended numerous QUB job fairs to connect with potential employers. It is through these one of these fairs that I gained my first exposure the company I am now working for.
When I asked to have a Career Guidance Session I was seen to very quickly, and advisor came to meet with me within that very same hour.
I obtained a degree plus award for recognition of my extra-curricular activities. I am very proud of this award and I believe it truly helps to back up non-academic activities when discussed as a part of many interviews.
I was always very impressed by the effort that QUB Careers, Employability and Skills put towards promoting international experience among students. There was an international jobs fair which I attended last year, and while attending a workshop on working internationally I witnessed the vast amount of global opportunities that were fully open to me.
I also represented QUB by participating in the three week Study China Programme in Beijing last April. This was an amazing experience and one that I would recommend to anyone. Without the promotion of this programme by QUB Careers, Employability and Skills, I probably would not have discovered and ultimately went on this opportunity of a lifetime.
Any advice for current students?
My real regret is not discovering the wealth of opportunities that were at my fingertips until my final year. When I did make this discovery I am happy that I made the most of it, however, I persistently wonder how things could have been, if I had discovered these opportunities earlier.
Therefore my advice is simply to start looking and applying, and do this now, there is no reason to delay it. QUB Careers, Employability and Skills will provide you with excellent resources, however it is up to you to pro-actively find which opportunities you will take, as these experiences will ultimately alter 'YOUR' future career, and will surely be where some of your best memories will be formed when thinking back to your uni days in the future.