UROP Information Session


I recently attended the first of this year’s UROP Information Sessions run by the Careers Service.

UROP stands for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme and is an opportunity to do a 6-week paid research internship here on campus this summer.

I knew a little about the UROP programme before I attended the session, from information available online and from talking to a friend who did a UROP internship last summer.  I am seriously considering doing either an MSc or a PhD after my Undergraduate degree and feel this is an ideal opportunity to gain valuable experience doing research and, basically, to see if it is the sort of thing I would enjoy.

The bulk of this year’s opportunities were made available on Monday 19th February from a wide range of schools and departments, with approximately 50 internships available in total.  Unfortunately, there are none from my department, Mathematics, this year so I felt that I probably wasn’t going to get much out of the session.

However, I came away with a number of positives:

  • First and foremost a free pen, quite a nice free pen to be honest.
  • Advice that you are not limited to applying for placements solely within your own department or school. You can apply for any for which you have the necessary skills and/or experience.
  • There is a lot of support available before and during the placement from the Careers team.
  • A 3rd year student gave a short presentation and answered questions about the UROP project that she did last summer.
  • You get one hour for your Red Award by attending.
  • And that if successful in getting a UROP internship, the hours that you work also count towards your Red Award

The session reaffirmed what I understood about the UROP Scheme beforehand.  It is an opportunity to work for 6 weeks on a research project alongside an academic, you will gain valuable research experience that will look great on your CV and the academic gets support for 6 weeks.   All internships pay a £1,320 tax-free bursary, and there are a range of opportunities available across most schools and departments; check out the links below.  The application closing date for the majority of the roles is 29th March.

If you think a summer research internship may be the right thing for you, then the Careers Service are running several more of the information sessions, which can be booked through MyJobsOnline.

Details about the programme can be found here on the UROP home page.

And details about this year’s opportunities can be found via the following link






Reflections on International Women’s Day


“In my eyes Women’s day shines a light on the success of women and the continued need for women to pursue their ambitions, it also helps us to encourage and promote each other’s voices.”

“I think International Women’s day is great because it creates a buzz online about equality and women’s rights. I love to read about what it means to other people on social media and news articles. It gets people talking, researching and writing making it a fantastic way to promote issues surrounding gender equality.”

“Women’s day represents the continuous strides made towards the equality of genders. I am proud to be alive at a time where so much has been done to achieve equal rights and, I am glad to be in a position from which I can continue to support this progression.”

“I think it’s important to celebrate how women’s rights have developed throughout history, and to continue to develop today, in order to strengthen women’s position in society! I think international women’s day is vital in raising awareness of the gender gap and discuss ways for creating greater gender parity.”

“Women’s Day is really important to me because it celebrates the work that people around the world have done to further women’s rights and make the world a better and more equal place.”

“Women are half of the human population, they are mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. They are assets in countless ways to all our lives. So having a day to celebrate women is simply brilliant, and a much needed way of showing appreciation to women!”

“I believe Women’s day is an acknowledgment of importance of gender equality and all the people that have campaigned and fought for women’s rights over the course of history. It is also a vital acknowledgement of the work that that still needs to be done globally to achieve equality.”

Why do you think International Women’s Day is important?

Mother’s Day 2018


Mother’s Day in the UK this year is Sunday 11th March, which is fast approaching! Don’t worry if you haven’t thought of what to do or get yet as I have a few ideas here for you, no matter what your budget is.

The origin of Mother’s Day in the UK is from Christianity, where traditionally, Christians would visit their ‘mother church’ on this day. This inevitably became an event where families reunited when children who were working away from home returned to visit their mother church. This reunion of the family and the occasion of children spending time with their mothers has changed the concept of Mother’s Day in the UK over time, as it is now a universal celebration of Mothers across the country that everyone enjoys.

If you are stuck for ideas of how to celebrate Mother’s Day, whether you are together or apart, I have some great ideas for you below:

  1. Make a card – homemade items are a great way to show that you care, and all you need is some paper and few coloured pens to get creative 
  2. Flowers – you could pick up flowers at your local supermarket or order from a flower delivery store where you can have them delivered straight to her door. M&S flower delivery have some great options, as does Interflora
  3. Cooking – another homemade gift idea is to bake a cake or sweet treat that you know your Mum likes, or you could even offer to cook her dinner. This can be something you do for her, or you can enjoy doing together
  4. Card and a candle – this idea is a classic Mother’s Day gift that won’t break the bank. You can get large candles from Ikea for £1.75. If you want to spend a bit more, John Lewis have an excellent range of luxury candles
  5. Perfume – This again is one that you can work to your own budget and can be extra special as it is personal. Boots have a sale on some perfumes for Mother’s Day so see if your Mum’s favourite is one of the selected lines reduced.
  6. Take her out somewhere – Another favourite gift for many on Mother’s Day is taking their Mum out for coffee, brunch or lunch. Many restaurants have a special Mother’s Day Menu and deals, for example, Pizza Express restaurants are doing 3 courses and glass of prosecco for £17.95 per person. Remember to book a table if you choose to take your Mum out to a restaurant to avoid disappointment.

This year for Mother’s Day I am taking the train home to see my Mum and I am going to buy her favourite flowers. Happy Mother’s Day!

How To Stay Motivated For The Rest Of The Year


Well you’re just over half way through your academic year! Regardless of what year you’re in there will be deadlines looming and the realization of exam revision becoming more apparent.

Below are a few of my tips for helping to motivate you!

Set Small Goals:

Your overall goal might be to get to the end of the year in one piece or to graduate. That is all well and good, but that goal is too general to keep you motivated. You might need more of a short-term goal.

It’s great to create SMART goals- this is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. It can be useful to create small goals which are SMART to identify if they are manageable and to recognize when we have achieved. It is important to look back at the goal to check it is achievable in the time frame you have set it and how you are going to measure it.

An example is:

  • I want to write 2,000 words of my 3,000 word essay by March 6th, as the due day is March 23rd.

You could break this down further by stating:

  • You want to write approximately 500 words a week, and you would know you have achieved this by checking the word count.

Organise fun activities to look forward to:

Look at your diary, work out when your deadlines are and when would be best to plan in some fun activities that you actually do and not get set stressed doing. It could be a proper night out with your house or course mates or even planning a holiday. No fun activity is too small; it could be as simple as playing more Xbox or having a pamper sesh.

Get some sleep:

Quite simply if you are staying up until 2am and going out every night, watching tv at all hours of the morning or just procrastinating, this is not going to help your motivation. When you are tired you are less motivated, likewise when you lack motivation you often feel more leads to you lounging around, ultimately feeling tired. Vicious Cycle!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to get sleep when you have to balance work and a social life, but the more sleep you get the more motivated you will feel in every aspect of your life. Some tips are:

  • Take naps, 40 mins max.
  • Get into a routine, for example, wake up at 8:30am go to bed at 11:30am.
  • Don’t pull all nighters; they impact your body dreadfully.
  • Try and watch your caffeine intake, especially before bed.

Take a look at the University Life Tools Programme, they run sessions on some of these common problems and can provide you with some tools and techniques in order to make the most of your time.

Surround yourself with motivating people:

This could be anyone including your family, home friends, house, team and course mates.

All these people are there to support you and actually you will be in a good place if you are all supporting each other motivating each other to get to the end.

On the flipside, try and be aware of those people who stress you out and make you feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do.

Surrounding yourself with a study group would be my best tip because it means you can all keep each other motivated, combining socializing and seeing your mates.

Lastly Keep going, you totally have this. Keep moving forward, and remind yourself of the rewards at the end.

What are your RUSU officers up to?


In RUSU, there are five full-time officers, who work on their manifestos to support students at the university. Here are just a few of the things they’ve been working on:

Testing Tuesdays

This was introduced since last term offering free confidential sexual health testing within the RUSU building’s corridor. There will be a stand just outside Café Mondial and Mojo’s available on the first Tuesday of every month between 4-6pm providing this service. The last upcoming session is on the 6th March 2018. More information here.

Free Printing

From last term, two printers have been placed in The Study with free access and printing for students. You only need to download the Printt app and make an account then use it for all your printing needs by uploading your files on it to print via bluetooth.

Awards Ball

There are two celebratory evenings taking place in RUSU to give out awards for nominated societies, student media and volunteering on the 16th April and sports on the 17th April. Tickets are now available to purchase, which include dinner and some drinks for the event. More information here.

International Student Food Project

This involves enhancing the student food experience by getting views and help from students and societies to create a food induction toolkit with practical advice, recipes and resources to provide the best know-hows on various aspects to food practices such as shopping, cooking etc.

Puppy day

There was a scheduled puppy day that was unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances which by the provider who could not bring in all the puppies onto the university campus. But there are plans for another larger scale puppy day to happen around the end of term for students to participate in.

The Big White Wall

A 24/7 online mental health and wellbeing service to support students is being implemented at Reading University. The planned deadline is the 2nd March 2018, where it should be available for access to everyone by then. It is completely anonymous and allows you to connect with others. You can gain advice and resources with clinically trained staff at hand to help you.

Sexual Health Advice in Reading


Being at university and living away from home may mean you want to (or need to) visit a sexual health clinic – and why not! In Reading there are loads of easy, free and confidential ways to get advice, help and treatment if it’s ever needed on a huge range of things. It’s better to be safe than sorry and I speak from personal experience saying the below organisations are completely non-judgemental and offer great advice if nothing else.

For all types of sexual health

The Florey Sexual Health and Contraceptive Services is a department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital and is based in a building opposite the main hospital, on Craven Road. They offer a huge amount of services such as all types of contraception, the morning after pill (which can actually be taken up to five days after), sexual assault support, specialist LGBT services, HIV clinic and STD screening and treatment advice. This is all totally free and confidential, and you don’t need to be registered with a GP in Reading to be able to use the service. It’s a sit and wait system, where you fill in a form stating the reason for your visit (you can use a fake name, though if you return, remember that your previous records will be kept under that name!), and then wait about an hour and you will be seen. A bonus is that contraception such as condoms or the pill will be given to you right then and there! They’re open 7am-7pm every weekday and some Saturday mornings, check out their website for more info: http://www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk/florey-sexualhealth.htm

Regular STD testing

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but regular STD testing can be quite important, as untreated sexually transmitted diseases can cause your body a lot of damage. Luckily, Berkshire and RUSU have lots of different options of how you can get tested if you don’t have time or don’t want to visit the local sexual health clinic in person. All you need to do is provide a sample of urine, though females have the option to take their own vaginal swab, which gives more accurate results.


You can order a free chlamydia test online at www.dontpassiton.co.uk which includes a postage paid return envelope that you just put your test in and post back in any normal post box – the one in RUSU works! All the instructions are online and come on paper with your test. The package you receive will be totally inconspicuous and the test is so easy to do; then you get your results discreetly sent to you about 7 working days later.


RUSU have teamed up with The Florey to offer ‘Testing Tuesdays’ inside the union, on each first Tuesday of the month. The next one coming is on the 6th March from 4-6pm and the friendly team will be stationed in the corridor outside Café Mondial in RUSU.

My volunteering experience as a STaR Mentor


I have been a STaR Mentor at the University of Reading, which is a voluntary role that involves mentoring up to 12 new first year students. In this role, I was there to help my mentees during their first term at university. I found it to be very rewarding because I could make them feel at ease and enjoyed being able to support them. It is a great position to be in as you can make a positive impact to another person’s life.

The main responsibilities of a STaR Mentor is to provide insightful information and advice to these students. Your mentees will likely go through similar situations that you’ve been through in your first year, so it’s nice to be able to inform them on various things that you wanted to know back then. There are different levels of engagement from mentees as some require more or less help than others. But you can help them with lots of different things, from making friends to finding the best places for nights out. It really depends on their needs and what they want from the mentorship.

STaR Mentors are there to share and relate to their mentees, and help them settle in to university life. We also signpost them to available services at the University if they need further help that’s outside our expertise. The main goal is to ensure mentees have the smoothest possible transition into university by being a point of contact to answer questions on things they are unsure about or should know about before and after starting university during their first term that might be useful. Your knowledge and experience as a student plays an important role to guiding new students, so they can make the most of their time at university.

In this volunteer role, you are committed to at least an hour every week to your mentees for the whole of Autumn Term. This can be through emails or other methods of contact such as in person, whatever works best for the needs of your mentees. You are also required to meet them in person at first to introduce yourself and just engage with them to answer any queries or concerns and inform them of things to get involved with at the start of the year. It’s a worthwhile volunteering opportunity that lets you make a difference to your fellow students. You can find out more here.

Volunteering As A Course Rep


As this week is Student Volunteering Week let me tell you about how I volunteer as a Course Rep here at uni. You’ve probably heard tons from your lecturers about running to be a Course Rep, as did I, which led me to become the Part 2 Course Rep for Italian Studies. This means I represent all the second-year students who study Italian and their views at meetings with School Reps and lecturers in an effort to improve the course where needed.

There are Course Reps for every year of study so all students can get involved if they want. All you need to do is nominate yourself on the RUSU website, write a short manifesto and let your course mates know you’re running so that they can vote for you online!

I chose to run to become a Course Rep as it’s a fantastic thought to think your opinions and thoughts as students are being heard and considered by your own department, but also it’s a great thing to add to my CV. Here are some examples of what I can now add to my CV in terms of skills too:

  • Working using my own initiative and creating ways to get representative feedback from students
  • Processing information into a useful format
  • Being able to effectively present information
  • Having experience in participating in formal meetings

It’s actually a really satisfying role and I really enjoy finding out what students have to say about their lectures whether it’s good or bad, and then helping the lecturers decide how they can solve any problems. Course Reps attend one meeting a term, so there isn’t a huge time commitment either, meaning fortunately it’s quite easy to balance alongside other commitments.

A massive benefit of being a Course Rep is that I am able to help make effective changes to my course that will hopefully improve the course for myself, my course mates and others who come to study at Reading in the future! Also, it can be quite social when I’m finding feedback, and I get to know my course mates better which is always a plus!

The uni has so many opportunities to volunteer which you can check out here online at home, there’s something to suit everyone! Being a course rep, just like loads of other volunteering roles, often doesn’t even feel like volunteering or work, just something satisfying to be part of that can make a positive difference to yourself and others whilst you have fun!

How to Enhance Your CV in 3 Simple Steps: RED Award


Joining the RED Award during my first academic year at university was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made.


I would highly recommend it to all students, particularly first and second years. It’s a great way to boost your CV and it really enhances your University transcript. From personal experience, it’s clear that having good grades or a degree is not enough when applying for a job and now employers look for more extra-curricular activities and work experience to supplement your studies. This is exactly what the RED Award can offer you, ensuring that you stand out from others entering the same competitive fields as you.


The RED award is essentially an employability skills certificate where you participate in 50 hours of extra-curricular activities outside of your academic studies. 35 hours of this is a ‘core activity’ which includes paid work, 10 hours is ‘volunteering’ and 5 hours is ‘training and development’, which is where you attend some small seminar-style classes that are held by the University and you learn about careers and placements etc. For the core activity, I worked for a direct marketing agency, for the volunteering I was a STaR mentor, and for the development I went to sessions about internships, thrive mentoring and training on how to become a mentor.


This really put me outside my comfort zone, making me become more confident and independent. It also enabled me to network and meet new people, from other students, to careers advisers and mentors. Prior to completing the RED award, my CV was quite basic, but this forced me to get the work experience that I needed. This was an extremely motivating experience which gave me insight on how to enhance my CV whilst encouraging me to go further and join the Advanced RED Award and Professional Track.


Although this does require some dedication, it’s so flexible and is designed to fit around your studies. There is no rush to complete it, although it’s best to do so within one academic year.


Completing this award couldn’t be easier. You simply log in to RISIS, go onto ACTIONS, and then sign up for the RED Award. You complete all  your activities in your own time, get them signed off your checklist and then book a completion session. You will get regular emails that will help you find volunteering opportunities etc., and the people who organise the Award are very helpful and quickly answer any questions you may have.


I feel really passionately about making the most out of your university life and ensuring you leave with the best CV possible. It’s the small things, like this Award, that will truly make you stand out from your competitors when entering the world of work.

Securing a Graduate Career: Work Hard, But Don’t Panic!


It’s National Student Employment Week! But that doesn’t mean that you have to lock yourself down to a niche career as soon as possible. There’s a lot of pressure on young people to make big decisions about their future from as young as 14 with GCSE selection.
I’ve felt the pressure for years but finding new experiences and getting involved has kept me on track, even when I’ve changed my career aspirations. The simple fact of the matter is all of your experience counts, even if it just helps you rule out something you don’t enjoy.


From science A-Levels and looking at careers as a medic, sports scientist and stunt double (?!) I’d grown up and moved on over 6 years, finally settling on a degree in politics and international relations. But, having changed my mind about a career so many times, I was back to square one on my future after university. In fact, for the first year and a half of uni, I barely thought about graduate careers at all; I just got involved with events and societies that I found fun and interesting. For me this was student radio and my course society as well as a part-time job as a bartender; this brought opportunities in local radio and networking, and by the time second year ended I’d worked my way into committee positions for student radio and the politics society, which look great on a CV and demonstrated loads of useful skills. From here, I started to lean towards a career in media and journalism.


But, in the summer of my second year I was left without the hallowed internship I’d been told I needed if I wanted a good graduate career. It was at this point I remembered that while internships and related work experience are highly valuable, there are many skills from other work that transfer and apply to all sorts of careers. I applied mid-summer to a brand ambassador job with Virgin Media for some work experience and a flexible summer income as I could work from home; this gave me sales, customer service and social media experience. In a last-ditch attempt for some journalism experience at the end of the summer, I was lucky enough to secure a place on the Reading Festival press team with the University and try some music reporting, photography and a little bit of social media marketing. This was amazing but it did show me that journalism isn’t for me, even though I love to write. This brought me where I am today: finally, at the beginning of my third year, I decided that I wanted to work in PR and communications.


Most graduate schemes open roughly a year in advance of your future start date, so there’s still time to find related experience while you’re applying for these. It’s a good idea to know what you want to do at this point; graduate applications are intense and take a decent amount of time so only apply to ones you actually want. To help with my applications and show a desire for the field, I approached the University Press Office and started a one-day a week placement to learn about communications and started writing travel articles for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a brand ambassador.


So, I started with different types of work experience: retail, hospitality, branding, sales, media and journalism. I ruled out what I didn’t like and I remembered what I loved, to find a career that matched, then moved on to finding relevant experience and streamlined my job hunt. CV building never ends, but it gets much easier once you know what you like. All experience is good experience and never turn down a good opportunity: seize them.