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Americamp Summer Scheme USA USA SUMMER CAMPS

7 Reasons I’ll Never Forget My USA Camp Experience

Thinking of spending your summer at a camp in the USA? Ruairi McLarnon, BA Drama, participated in the Americamp Summer Scheme. Here are his top memories from an unforgettable summer.

THE FLIGHT AND BOSTON!

Flying to America and Arriving in Boston was one of the most unforgettable experiences! Having only met some of the people I’d be spending the summer with (who would soon be lifelong friends), there is always the fear that you are going to arrive and realise ‘oh no what have I done’ and believe me there were a few of those moments but the positives far outweigh the nerves. Arriving at our accommodation in Boston and meeting other people who would be attending the same camp and other camps was incredible. Meeting people from the rest of Ireland, Mexico, Spain, England, Greece meant you really didn’t have time to get overwhelmed!

ARRIVING AT CAMP!

After taking the bus from Boston to New Hampshire we arrived at camp! After a welcome talk in the dining Hall we were assigned our cabins. As we arrived in the evening it had gotten dark earlier than it does here, and one of my vivid memories was walking through the forest to our cabin in the pitch black, narrowly avoiding frogs and rocks. The cabin was brilliant but very rustic. No locked doors or glass in the windows just a screen to keep out the bugs, no bathroom. That night we got to know each other and meet more people who we would be working with. I distinctly remember sitting under the stars chatting with everyone!

STAFF WEEK!

Depending on your camp, you may have staff week which is the week before kids arrive, and you have time to settle into the camp. This was one of the best weeks of my life but also one of the hardest. You spend much of your time training in the necessary skills for camp such as first aid, and depending on your activity, lifeguarding or high ropes etc. One of the highlights of staff week is being with the most amazing people from all over the world, getting to experience Walmart for the first time, getting trips off camp to see New England and nights off where we got to visit the nearby lakes and towns! I can honestly say I have never laughed as much as in that first week!

THE KIDS!

Over your time at Camp you’ll meet so many different kids. Some of them I miss and some I don’t miss as much! My Camp had 4 sets of kids over the summer. One of my favourite experiences was with my last group of boys, the ‘Pawnee Boys’ as we were known after the name of our cabin! We would often have evening activities where we competed for ‘Monkeytown’ Money. Our cabin’s rivals were the Blackfoot cabin, who in a treasure hunt- stole our Monkeytown money and we had to devise a plan to get it back… the kids absolutely loved it especially when you really get into it.

DAYS OFF!

As fun as camp was, we always looked forward to our days off each week. Our days off started from 6pm and ended at 6pm the next day so you had the whole night to have fun as well! We would often book hotel rooms that were split between us and that kept the cost down. It was always so nice being able to get dressed up before heading on your day off usually going somewhere nice for dinner. We would often go for food, shopping, the beach, drive in Movie theatres (my first experience of one was amazing) waterparks as well as taking the day to discover other states such as when I went to Maine for the day! We hadn’t anything booked we just went and hoped for the best… one of the highlights of the summer! One of my favourite places to go for days off was Weirs Beach, a lakeside beach about half an hour from camp with an Edwardian Promenade and Arcade and Ice cream!

DAY TO DAY LIFE AT CAMP!

Much of your time at camp will have a similar routine, 7:30 wakeup bell, breakfast at 8, cabin clean up until 9, activity teaching until 1, lunch, rest period, General swim, last activity, dinner, evening activity with the entire camp (treasure hunt, capture the flag, barn dance etc.) followed by Friendship Circle where the entire camp would stand in a circle and sing the Friendship circle song before ‘shower hour’ which I got a lot of stick for my Northern pronunciation of ‘shar arrr’; candle pass and then bedtime. Then we got our two glorious hours to ourselves as Counsellors.

AFTER CAMP TRAVEL!

After some very tearful goodbyes we travelled to Boston before flying to Miami, travelling up to Orlando, flying north to New York, and then heading back to Boston. These experiences are completely different to camp but equally as incredible. You will no doubt have a group of friends you have made over the camp experience that you will be travelling with so have a rough idea of each of the destinations you’ll be travelling to and your first two destinations settled. They will no doubt change as you work your way through America and meet others along the way but embrace every destination as you go along!

Interested in experiencing camp life in the States for yourself? Don’t miss our Summers Camps USA information session.

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6 Paths to Take After Graduation

Contemplating the road less travelled: student blogger Maeve McDermott

‘What now?’ is a question many of us will be asking ourselves this summer following graduation. Three+ years of lectures, tutorials, assignments, deadlines and structure that a post-graduation world doesn’t offer. Whilst this can be daunting and the post-graduation fear is real, it’s important to remember that there is no one right next step – there are a multitude of routes you can take after you finish your degree, and Prospects Student Career Guide 2020/21 takes you through just some of the options available.

  1. Graduate scheme 

Perhaps the most conventional route, a graduate scheme job or ‘professional level’/’high skilled’ job is a structured scheme whereby employers target graduates’ skills and experience and are normally available to those achieving a 2:1 or above. These schemes are run by many leading UK employers across all industries and often last 1-2 years, with many graduates offered a permanent role following this initial period. It’s worth doing your research if you have a specific company in mind – look at their website and social media channels to familiarise yourself with their work culture and values. Recruitment processes and timelines for graduate schemes vary from company to company so be sure to be aware of these well in advance.

More on graduate schemes

 2. Work for a small business

If working for a large company in a graduate scheme isn’t for you, you may prefer working for a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Roles in small businesses often offer you more responsibility and a wider variety of opportunities, as well as the opportunity to see first-hand how your work is making an impact on the company. These roles can offer greater opportunity to really develop your skillset, often making them a more appealing option for fresh graduates wishing to gain as much experience as possible. SME roles often aren’t widely advertised, and SMEs usually recruit via word-of-mouth recommendations/networking or through your university. 

3. Self-employment

If being your own boss is something you like the sound of, self-employment may be worth considering. A somewhat less conventional option, this route requires a great deal of drive and determination, but undoubtedly has its benefits. Currently, one seventh of workers are now self-employed, and include innovative business owners, using their own experience and skills to identify gaps in the market, and freelancers predominantly in professions such as writing, programming and graphic design. Whilst this route can be a more difficult one, with challenges such as unstable income and tax refunds, resources for self-employed people continue to grow, including British Association for Supported Employment and Centre for Entrepreneurship.

More on launching your own business

4.Work abroad 

Maybe you have your sights set on something further afield? Expanding your horizons overseas won’t just allow for adventure and fun – structured work experience abroad such as internships can be a great way to travel and improve your employability at the same time. This type of work experience is often organised by third-party organisations such as The British Council and Erasmus+. Additionally, many students opt for a gap year following their degree, and choose to gain international experience working in USA summer camps, summer jobs in Australia or adventure working holidays in New Zealand.

Find out more about work experience and gap year opportunities.

Discover Global Opportunities.

5. Volunteer for an international project

Another way to get meaningful experience abroad is through gaining experience by volunteering for an international project. Working with local people in foreign countries and making a meaningful difference to their lives is a truly unique opportunity allowing for personal development, and can also impress future employers, demonstrating a caring attitude and a strong work ethic. There are countless volunteering opportunities available – from wildlife conservation to teaching English.

Discover volunteering opportunities.

6. Postgraduate study 

If you feel that you’re not quite ready for the world of work just yet, postgraduate study might be a possibility. Relevant postgraduate study can set you aside from other graduates and accelerate your career progression, as many roles in fields such as law and clinical psychology require professional accreditation gained through postgraduate study. Perhaps you want to become an expert in your field and even become an academic? Moreover, conversion courses offer you the chance to pursue a career often completely different from what your undergrad may have prepared you for. These are intensive postgraduate qualifications that allow you to widen your range of skills, expand your professional network and increase your confidence in a subject and sector you previously may have known little about. 

Discover postgraduate study at Queen’s.

It’s important to remember everyone’s career path is different and the countless possibilities definitely make that post-graduation fear a little less intimidating. The options really are endless, and this time next year you could be flourishing in a Big 4 grad scheme in London, or volunteering at a wildlife conservation in South Africa. The best thing you can do is reflect on what is best for you, think about what you really want and consider all of your options. 

For more on your career options after graduate, visit our website.


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Life Sciences Sector Expert Q&A

Mark Gallagher, Careers and Work Placement Consultant in Queen’s School of Biological Sciences offers an insight into graduate opportunities the Life Sciences Sector offers.

What is the Life Sciences sector?

The Life Sciences in the broadest sense can encompass study and work related to all living organisms and so can have a very broad definition which can range from agriculture to zoology (A-Z). The Life Sciences sector spans a huge variety of career areas, including, but not limited to, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, environmental management, food and nutrition and scientific research. Companies may be involved in areas including research and development, drug discovery, diagnostics, analytical testing and can range from small research intensive companies, with a small number of employees, right through to large multinationals employing thousands of people.

What kinds of careers options do Life Sciences students have?

Career areas are very broad in the life sciences – and at various levels, straight from a BSc qualification to roles that may require additional levels of qualification and up to PhD. Here are a few of the main areas of employment: 

Research & development – The focus of research and development (R&D) is mainly on creating products, processes or commercial applications using innovative multidisciplinary approaches. R and D takes place in Universities but also in industry within smaller medical biotech companies or parts of companies tasked with process and product improvements. To work in R and D typically you are encouraged to further your level of qualification to at least MSc if not PhD level.

Quality assurance and product Manufacturing – Quality Assurance (QA) or Quality Control (QC) involves ensuring that products are manufactured in accordance with recommended standards, and requires analysing raw materials used initially through to finished products. Companies in the sector are highly regulated so Quality is key at all stages of production with a variety of repeat analytical tests being undertaken to ensure products are safe to use. Careers can also involve monitoring environmental factors like water and air quality for contaminants which could potentially impact on process or product quality. 

Science Business roles – Opportunities for regulatory affairs officers are commonplace in the sector as are roles to develop new markets and business for products, or providing expertise and consultancy to support products – roles which don’t involve lab work but the understanding you gain from a science degree is essential to carry out the role effectively. Regulatory affairs officers ensure the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of products, and work with documentation and medicine approval authorities throughout the world. Products developed as a result of research and development will need to find markets in which to be sold – and that creates opportunities for science graduates to help develop those markets, by approaching health authorities and companies to explain the features and benefits of products developed – so if you are a science graduate who is keen to use your communication and persuasion skills this could be the route for you. 

Clinical trials – All medicines must undergo clinical trials before they are granted licences. Scientists are involved in setting up trials to ensure that new products are safe for use. You could be involved in a variety of roles ranging from lab-based research, through to using data analysis programmes to analyse and interpret results, or managing and monitoring trials by visiting hospital sites and liaising with nurses and physicians to ensure the trials are running appropriately.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in building a career in this sector

Be open to new things – at University your Careers Service will offer a host of opportunities which present an opportunity to try something new. This could be applying for periods of experience abroad, events that seek to attract students from all disciplines, career development programmes and classes that are optional to attend but specific to your degree. Get involved and set time aside outside your studies to develop skills and knowledge of options and the labour market – it’s never time wasted. 

Focus on what you can control – you can’t control the unexpected such as COVID and the wider economic impacts. You can though control how you present yourself to employers and ensuring that your applications are at a high standard – giving yourself every opportunity to gain an entry level position. Use the expertise that exists in your Careers service to help with this.

Be smart and organised in your job search – you now have access to thousands of vacancies at your fingertips, but making online job applications can be tough. It’s better to make a small number of high quality applications rather than make multiple applications. Start to analyse job specifications thoroughly, look at the essential and desirable criteria for jobs of interest. For more experienced roles that grab your attention work out how you can address any skill and experience shortfalls. Speaking to people is also something I really encourage (don’t just email!) – whether that is people working in similar roles to those you are interested in, making enquiries directly to companies or attending career and networking events, these types of interactions can all help boost your confidence and also gain insights into what employers actually value in prospective employees – this in turn can help inform future job applications. 

Attitude and approach are key – focus on developing your reputation for high quality work, reliability, integrity and being a good colleague to work and collaborate with. The skills and knowledge you take with you from University will be invaluable in understanding the areas you work in – but always continue to develop your skill set, the way we work is changing quickly – many employers value your attitude and willingness to learn equally as they do your knowledge and skills.

About the blogger:

I’m Mark Gallagher from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences. I work with three key groups of people – students, employers and academics. The key focus of my own role is the development of student employability from first year right through to Master’s level students. If you are a student looking to explore a career in the Life Sciences sector, don’t miss my blog featuring a Q&A of everything you have ever wanted to know about the sector.

I encourage students to develop themselves by undertaking work experience placements which form part of a degree programme, to get involved in some of the programmes that the Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills service run throughout the year as well as encouraging involvement in extra-curricular activities that help develop confidence and transferable skills (which are key for employers we work with). 

I also work with a large number of employers throughout the year, these are typically employers who are interested in recruiting placement and graduating students from the School. 

We run a very successful work placement programme within the School of Biological Sciences where each year our undergraduate students undertake a one-year placement as part their degree programme. Many of our students work in the Life Science sector locally and throughout the UK joining established employers big and small, as well as gaining experience with Biopharmaceutical manufacturing companies in ROI. In a typical year, 20% of students will move outside NI to gain experience, with many travelling internationally. All placements are quality assured to meet our course learning requirements and students and employers are visited during the course of a placement to ensure everything is progressing as anticipated. 

We have 8 undergraduate programmes in the School which are quite different so it’s important to ensure our labour market information is current and conveyed to students ensuring they know what their options are. Students can also book one to one appointments throughout the year, and in recent months these appointments have moved online.