Speaker Profile: Tay

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Name: Tay-Yibah Aziz
Course (and Year): Course (and Year): BSc Human Physiology (Industrial) – 4th (final) year
Presentation Topic: Presentation Topic: My Industrial Placement Year & Science Slam project

Tell us a little bit more about your presentation.
As part of my degree, I undertook a Year in Industry and worked for the University’s Educational Engagement team. In my presentation, I’ll talk about my motives for undertaking a Placement Year, what I learnt from the experience and a little bit about my science communication project I undertook – my team and I ran a ‘Science Slam’ with undergraduates from the Faculty of Biological Sciences and performing arts students from a local secondary performing arts school.

Why did you choose to take part in this project / take on this role?
A lot of students underestimate the worth a year out can do for your prospects and self-confidence – I know I did! Approaching the end of 2nd year, I knew I wasn’t ready to go straight into my final year and graduate without any experience, as I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards! My presentation will hopefully encourage a lot of students to consider the option of taking a Year in Industry and also demonstrate to staff from different departments the value that students can bring to any team!

What has been the best part of your student engagement experience so far?
Running my project was a massive learning curve but also taught me many vital skills that I’ve already noticed have been benefitting me in my final year of study. Being given so much responsibility was scary at first, but you quickly adjust and I had an immense sense of pride when it ended successfully and everybody was smiling on stage!

What would you say is the most important thing you have learned?
How important networking is! I worked with so many different teams and people from different industries that it was vital to keep tabs on who everyone was (even if it was difficult!). Something as small as showing you remember someone when you meet them for the second time can earn you a lot of respect and those ties always connect up somehow – it’s such a small world so when you’re working in a certain industry everyone knows each other somehow. Having a varied network means you have a database of people to call on for backup, ideas, funding… the list goes on. Equally, make sure people know who you are and how you can help them – using a social networking such as LinkedIn can help you do this in a professional manner.

How have co-/extra-curricular opportunities enriched and broadened your degree?
My role as a Public Engagement Intern taught me a passion I never knew I had and gave me an interest to pursue which has obviously been massively influential on my time once returning to university. I’ve now been seeking Graduate positions in this area with companies and institutions I learnt about through the networks I made on placement. It’s also made me a much more organized and self-motivated individual, so getting up at 9am every day, getting all my work done on time and balancing this with extra-curricular responsibilities has gotten a lot easier!

How has getting involved in co-/extra-curricular activities at university helped you with future career goals?
As mentioned earlier, I now know that science communication and public engagement is the area I want to go into after graduation and having a year’s experience will definitely make me stand out from the crowd. A lot of industries look for experience of project management and understanding of policy, so writing grant applications in an industrial setting and working with the various teams in my department have developed me into a better-rounded graduate. I know that I can use the skills and experience I’ve learnt to adapt into a working environment straight away and will have to spend less time acclimatising to the atmosphere of a busy office, which is obviously very different from being a student!

Why is the University of Leeds such a good choice for student engagement?
It’s clear how much Leeds is willing to invest in its students to ensure they have the best graduate opportunities upon completion of their programmes. I received fantastic support from my Faculty in finding an Industrial Placement and the Career’s Centre were second to none in making sure my application was of a top standard. They also offered me a mock interview which was tailored for the role, and this was a fantastic opportunity to prepare for the real thing. Whilst on placement, my supervisors made sure I engaged with many different opportunities across different teams to get as much of a varied experience as possible and I know I can still fall back on the contacts I’ve made for support and things like references.

Why should every student get engaged at Leeds?
Because you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t! Leeds offers so many different types and ways to engage that students are spoilt for choice and who knows – you might discover a passion like me, make great friends and gain some fantastic experience in the process. It’s also a great way to develop your CV and get involved with something that’s important to you.

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