Electrical and Electronic Engineering student Vihan Fonseka spent four weeks at Mourne Dew Distillery as part of our Working Globally from NI programme. Read his experience below.
Going outside my comfort zone
I started my International Marketing Assistant with Mourne Dew Distillery just a week after my final year exams ended. I was very excited from the start as this experience would be outside my comfort zone and a whole new domain for me coming from an engineering background. This opportunity would be put in a place where I can expand and learn new skills and broaden my perspective.
Learning about the company
My interest for Mourne Dew began when I came across the internship posting where I was impressed to learn about their story from starting very small to now producing award winning Whiskies, Gins, Vodkas and Poitins. The craftmanship involved in producing these spirits further attracted me to apply as I learned about how Mourne Dew infuses the essence of the famous Mourne Mountains into their products as well as various botanicals. From a perspective of an international student and someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I found the craftmanship, dedicate and innovation that goes into making these products very interesting and something I would like to be a part of.
Leading my own projects
My internship at Mourne Dew consisted of various projects that I led and delivered. From conducting research into revamping the current booking system through analysing suitable software to collecting and compiling business tenders to sell the byproduct of the production being hand sanitizers I was exposed to different functions of the business from Day 1. Mourne Dew is still a growing business, and I partook in their expansion efforts through conducing market research into the spirit markets of USA, Poland and Germany, I was able to learn about different spirit products, various pricing methods, ingredient mix and generally what whisky or gin or vodka is popular in different regions.
In addition to working remotely, I was able to visit the distillery in Warrenpoint and meet the team behind it. Neil Flemming (Sales Manager) had kindly picked me up and brought me to the distillery plant. It was interesting to see the production process of creating high quality Whisky, Gin, Vodka and Poitin as Eimear and Donal (Operations Assistant) gave me a breakdown of the distillation process, packaging and was impressed that the entire batch is made by hand. I had also got a sniff of the different experimental botanical mixtures that Donal (owner) had been testing from seaweed to citrus and they all smelled incredible.
Overall, working at Mourne Dew for the past 4 weeks had been an incredible experience that helped me step into a totally different domain, learning about marketing, sales and generally how a distillery is run.
Queen’s Master’s student Mohit Khandare visited Graham Construction as part of our Work Shadowing programme – an experience which eventually helped land him a graduate role as an Assistant Planner with the company. Here, he shares his story.
Every year the Careers, Employability and Skills team at Queen’s run a Work Shadowing Week 2023. The programme is an opportunity for students to get a taste of what it’s like to work in their target industry. Students spend a day shadowing professionals which helps bring a job to life and helping students to decide if a particular career is right for them. Observing professionals in the work place not only provides an early career insight, it also serves as a valuable networking platform – as Master’s student Mohit Khandare discovered when he visited Graham Construction during Work Shadowing Week.
‘I was impressed with the team’s commitment to quality
“I had the pleasure of visiting the GRAHAM Interior Fit-Out division working on the Belfast City Quays 3 site doing interior fit-out for Microsoft, B-Secur, and Aflac Northern Ireland and was thoroughly impressed with their project management and attention to detail.
“I was fascinated by the 360° view from the 12th floor, where one could see GRAHAM’s projects, which are either completed and running or in the completion phase. From partnering with global technology giants to household names in fashion, GRAHAM listens to its clients to deliver cost-effective outcomes, no matter how challenging the project may be. “I was particularly impressed with the team’s ability to creatively implement solutions that reduce cost, drive efficiency, and ensure timely delivery. Their commitment to quality and attention to detail was evident in every aspect of the interior fit-out projects I observed.
“Additionally, GRAHAM Group’s focus on structured growth and developing its interior fit-out scope indicates that they are constantly looking for ways to improve their operations and overcome any obstacles they may encounter. The visit also highlighted the importance of coordination and communication among the different trades to ensure a successful outcome.”
‘The team were happy to share their experiences and insights with me’
Having been impressed with the company, Mohit used the opportunity to make vital connections with the professionals he was shadowing. “During my visit, I had the opportunity to speak with members of the GRAHAM’s interior fit-out team and who took time out of their busy schedule to share valuable insights about the company, and on the division’s operations. They were knowledgeable and passionate about their work, and they were happy to share their experiences and insights with me. They also highlighted the importance of innovative design, value-added construction, and on-time completion, which
are all hallmarks of GRAHAM’s approach to project management. I learned a lot about the interior fit-out industry and the challenges and opportunities that come with it.
“My visit to the GRAHAM was a truly enlightening experience and an excellent opportunity to learn about the complexities of construction projects and the skills required to manage them successfully.”
“Thanks to Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s for giving me the opportunity to learn and gain this wonderful experience under the shadow of elite construction industry professionals.”
Taking the next step
Armed with an insight into the company, it’s values and operations, Mohit was in an advantageous position when it came to applying for a job as Assistant Planner with the company.
“I am excited to begin my journey as an Assistant Planner at GRAHAM Group’s Interior Fit-Out Division, a company known for its exceptional attention to detail and high-quality solutions in the UK and Ireland.
“As I embark on this new chapter, I can’t help but reflect on the challenges I faced during my time at Queen’s.
“It was a pivotal part of my educational journey, providing me with a global perspective that I will carry forward throughout my career.
“However, it was not without its difficulties. Adapting to a new environment, overcoming language barriers, and navigating cultural differences were just a few of the obstacles I encountered. Through determination and resilience, I was able to overcome these challenges and thrive during those tough times.
“As I begin my new role at GRAHAM, I am eager to apply the skills and knowledge I gained during my time at Queen’s and contribute to the company’s success.
“Thanks to the team at Careers, Employability and Skills for their never ending support and motivation throughout the journey at Queen’s.
“As I take on my new responsibilities as an Assistant Planner, I am eager to learn and grow in this role. I am confident that with the support of the team at GRAHAM we will achieve great success together.”
Claudine Sutherland an Employer Engagement Consultant from Careers, Employability and Skills who runs Work Shadowing Week says: “Work Shadowing Week brings students and employers together in a meaningful way which can be so beneficial as Mohit’s story demonstrates. Mohit had a fantastic experiential day and it’s great news that he has now landed a role as an Assistant Planner as a result.”
As an employer, tapping into the diverse talent pool of international students can bring numerous advantages to your organization. The recent changes in UK immigration policies have made it easier than ever to hire international graduates, allowing you to benefit from their skills and knowledge. In this blog post, we will explore two key routes for employing international students: the Graduate Route and the Skilled Worker Route. Additionally, we will cover the salary requirements and the process of obtaining a Skilled Worker route license. Let’s dive in!
The Graduate Route
The Graduate Route offers international graduates the opportunity to work or search for employment in the UK for up to two years (or three years for PhD holders). This route presents several benefits for employers:
No sponsorship required: International students can apply for this unsponsored route independently, relieving employers of the sponsorship process and associated costs.
No employer fees: Unlike other immigration routes, the Graduate Route does not require employers to pay any fees.
Trial opportunity: This route allows you to observe and assess the performance of international graduates before committing to sponsorship.
Potential for switching to the Skilled Worker route: If you find a valuable employee during their time on the Graduate Route, they can apply to switch into the Skilled Worker route, providing a seamless transition.
The Skilled Worker Route
The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the previous Tier 2 visa and offers employers even more advantages:
Increased flexibility in skill levels: Employers can now sponsor jobs at or above the minimum skill level of RQF 3, equivalent to A-level qualifications, making a wider range of roles eligible for sponsorship.
No time limit or cooling-off period: There are no restrictions on the length of time an employee can spend under the Skilled Worker route, providing greater control over staffing plans. Moreover, there is no cooling-off period between a person’s Skilled Worker visa and their next visa.
No cap on numbers and no Resident Labour Market Test: The removal of these requirements has significantly reduced the time it takes to sponsor a Skilled Worker, allowing for quicker and smoother recruitment processes.
Lower salary commitment: The lower “new entrant” rate has been extended from three to four years, making it more affordable for employers to hire international graduates.
When offering a position to graduates switching to the Skilled Worker route, it’s important to meet specific salary criteria:
New entrant salary: Graduates switching within the UK from the Student route or the Graduate Route are considered new entrants. The salary offered to new entrants must be at least £20,480 per year or at least £10.10 per hour, along with meeting 70% of the “going rate” for the job.
Skilled Worker Route License: To employ international graduates under the Skilled Worker route, you will need to obtain a Skilled Worker route license. Here are some key points to consider:
License application process: You can apply for a Skilled Worker route license online by following the government’s guidance on becoming a sponsor.
License fees: The license fees are £536 for small or charitable sponsors and £1,476 for medium or large sponsors. These fees are one-time payments, although you will need to pay again when the license is up for renewal (typically every four years).
Processing time: The government aims to process most applications within eight weeks. For faster processing, you may opt to pay £500 for a decision within ten working days.
Employing international students offers great benefits to employers, fostering diversity and bringing fresh perspectives to the workforce. The Graduate Route and the Skilled Worker Route present excellent opportunities for hiring international graduates, with streamlined processes and reduced costs. By embracing international talent, you can strengthen your organization and contribute to a global workforce.
If you have further questions or need assistance with employing international students, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Careers Department at QUB. We are here to support you in navigating the recruitment process and making the most of the talent available to you.
My name is Savannah Dodd, I’ve studied for my PhD in Anthropology, that’s in the School of HAPP and I am the founder and director of the Photography Ethics Centre.
Tell us a bit more about your business idea.
I’m passionate about photography ethics because photographs are immensely powerful. They shape how we think about the world and this means that when we take and share photographs, we are shaping how others think about the world. So this is, like, a huge amount of power that we have as image makers and this power comes with a lot of responsibility, so I think it’s really important to think about ‘how can we use that power of image making responsibly?’ and I think a really good way of doing so is to think about it through the lens of ethics.
How did you get the initial business idea?
I founded the Photography Ethics Centre because I realised that my background in anthropology and the things that I’d learned through doing a Masters, and now a PhD in Anthropology has really prepared me with an important set of skills and these skills have helped me be more effective in my photography and more ethical about how I approach my photographic practice. So, I realised that anthropology has helped me a lot with my photography with building skills, but these skills that I’ve built are not universal. So, what I’m really trying to do is to sort of translate these skills that I gained from anthropology and make it applicable and useful for photographers who might not have the same background.
How has the business developed since your initial idea?
In some ways, not a lot has changed with the organisation since I started and in some ways, it’s changed a lot. I think the biggest change has been, really, in terms of my expectations. I think I needed to temper some of my expectations, but that’s not always easy when we’re participating in a culture of startup pitching because you really have to think in terms of best-case scenarios. So, I think tempering my expectations and maybe being happy with smaller, more marginal successes was really important. I think, on the other hand, things haven’t changed a lot because I, sort of, have come full circle back into my original idea which, I think, the lesson there is just that I need to trust my gut a little bit more.
What activities at Queen’s helped you get to where you are?
I was really fortunate that when I first had the idea for the Photography Ethics Centre, I was able to participate as part of a cohort of students to do a Kickstarter Accelerator programme through the Graduate School at Queen’s and that was just a really great opportunity to, sort of, spend time on business development with some support. I was also accepted into Dragon’s Den one year and that was a brilliant opportunity, really great practice at building my confidence and pitching and it’s just always been really beneficial to know that there’s somewhere that I can go for advice because, inevitably, I’ve run into hurdles or questions that I haven’t known how to answer so it’s been great to have the resource at Queen’s.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I think the most important piece of advice that I wish I’d had when I was first starting out is that, you know, blocking out time for other things in your life or taking breaks or relaxing on the weekends or in the evenings is that’s not a reward but that’s an important part of how you divide your time. I think by not taking time for myself to really recharge, to relax to, sort of, put the laptop away really lead me to a bit of a burnout so I think that really the biggest, biggest lesson I learned there is that, you know, breaks are not treats, you deserve them, inherently, you don’t have to earn them.
In our series of four sessions for international students running in both semester one and again in semester two, students discovered how to build their personal brand, craft an effective CV and cover letter for the UK job market and learn all about the nuances and etiquette of the UK workplace – including how to ace that all-important interview!
The final session brought all these skills together in the Assessment Centre Bootcamp.
Missed out? Here is the top takeaway from each session!
Key takeaways from Session 1 – UK Recruitment Process
– Get organised, know your application deadlines
– Sell your skillset as an International Student
– Do something outside your degree
– 100% of session respondents are planning to book further CES sessions!
Key takeaways from Session 2 – CV’s
– Format matters, make your info easy to find
– If you don’t write it, employers can’t read it
– Change your CV for every job application
– Use VMock for written CV feedback
Key takeaways from Session 3 – Interviews
– Know the company and the industry
– Use the STAR technique
– Show you would be a good fit for their team
– Book a mock interview with a Careers Consultant
Key takeaways from Session 4 – Mock Assessment Centre
– Keep to time
– Don’t forget to listen
– Put your phone away
Missed this event? Check out other upcoming events here
The Global Opportunities team together with Santander have offered over 70 undergraduate students the opportunity to complete a funded Utrecht Summer School Course in The Netherlands. Successful applicants – who will each receive £1,400 towards their course and accommodation costs – include Malaysian sisters Abigail and Priscilla Jeyaraj, both Biomedical Science students, who will study Advanced Clinical Research Monitoring and Leadership for Innovation and Performance Happiness, respectively. Here is what Abigail and Priscilla had to say ahead of their trip.
Are you excited for the trip?
Abigail: This summer school opportunity is the opportunity of a lifetime! Utrecht University is a prestigious research university, and it would be an invaluable experience to complete a course on clinical research at Utrecht University.
Priscilla: I think “opportunity of a lifetime” captures our thoughts accurately, being enabled by Queen’s University Belfast to undertake this opportunity in the #1 University in the Netherlands, ranked by Shanghai Ranking 2019 is a blessing and we couldn’t be more grateful!
How does it feel to be travelling together?
A: I’m very excited about traveling together! We’ve travelled together quite a number of times in the past and we’ve always had a fun time together. My sister is a great travel companion.
P: We have previously travelled together extensively on many occasions- including summer schools, but it is an experience that we are so fortunate to share together and the excitement and eagerness is always the same as the first time.
What are you most excited about?
A: I’m most excited about meeting people from all over the world with similar interests through the summer course. I’m also very excited just to experience the beauty of Utrecht! I’m fascinated by the beautiful double-dock canals in Utrecht and I can’t wait to see them in person.
P: Learning from world-class experts and going on visits to companies in Utrecht! I’m really excited to be amongst other students that share the same passion about leadership and having student experience and delve into the culture in Utrecht!
What do you hope to learn – both professionally and personally?
A: The course I’ve chosen is delivered by some of the best professionals in the field, and it would be an honour to not only to learn the course content from them, but also to get to learn more about their research and their experiences in the field. The course includes a lecture on oncology trials, which I am particularly looking forward to. There also will be practical sessions where we will be able to utilise the skills we have learnt throughout the course, which I believe would be very beneficial. Personally, I’m very excited to learn more about the lifestyle and culture in Utrecht!
P: Professionally, I hope to widen my leadership network, develop, and sharpen my leadership skills and gain an insight into applying the skills in a company setting during the company visits. And personally, I look forward to enjoying and traveling around the historic city, Utrecht.
This blog celebrates some of the encouraging employer feedback we have received about Queen’s students during our employer events and activities over the last year.
Beth MacDougall, Student Recruitment Associate at EY welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. She told us: “What a brilliant day meeting these fantastic Queen’s students! We couldn’t have been more delighted with our first event back in person! The students developed an understanding of the different roles we offer, and were keen to know what it’s actually like working here day to day. Biggest thank you to all those in the group for signing up and being fantastic participants – we can’t wait to see what all your futures hold!”
“Delighted to see classroom learning translated into a professional environment”
Louise Dooley, In-House Recruitment Specialist at Andor Technology welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. She told us: “Andor Technology were delighted to be one of the partner organisations participating in #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. We welcomed students from Mechanical and Electronic Engineering and Physics disciplines. Thank you for helping us provide opportunities for students to gain valuable insights into the world of work and how classroom learning translates into a professional environment.”
“Eyes opened to the future potential”
The Interior Fit-Out Team at Graham welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. They told us: “We opened the doors to 7 students from Queens University Belfast to see and learn about the works being carried out, whilst giving them an understanding of how a live project runs.
Project Manager, Eóin King MCIOB along with Contracts Director Neill Gillespie MCIOB took the students on a tour of the project and shared their own experiences of working and studying whilst building their career within GRAHAM. We were pleased to hear from student participants that their eyes had been opened to a potential future in the construction industry as a result of the visit.”
“Important real-life insights”
The Bloc team welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. They told us: “Recently we had the pleasure of welcoming students from Queen’s University Belfast onsite. The main objective of the day was for students to gain very important real life organisation insights. The students got an insight into Bloc, the sector and got the opportunity to observe professionals in practice.”
“Learning from graduate engineers”
The team at Dawson-Wam welcomed a group of Queen’s students for our recent #QUBWorkShadowingWeek. They told us: “DAWSON-WAM were pleased to support #QUBWorkShadowingWeek offering students work shadowing opportunities with NI employers. Our students Kieran and Alice got the opportunity to visit our Shimna Flood Alleviation Scheme in Newcastle, Co. Down. Their site experience included a mini survey camp hosted by our Graduate Engineers, James Carinduff and Conor Magorrian.”
“Great to meet students interested in grad opportunities”
Leah Tohill, Recruiting Graduate Talent, First Derivative took part in the #QUBStockMarketChallenge. She told us: “It was great to meet so many students that were interested in the graduate opportunities First Derivative have to offer. Congratulations to Charles and Toby who won the Stock Market Challenge. We’re delighted that you picked First Derivative as your first choice for an Insights Day.”
“Quickly grasped the flavour of the work we do”
Niall Elliott, Legal Professional at Baker McKenzie welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. He told us: “It was great to meet some of the #QUBStudents in the Baker McKenzie Belfast Centre as part of the Careers in Law Insight Programme 2022.
The group quickly became familiar with the various teams that operate from within the Belfast Centre. This was followed by a negotiation task to give the students a flavour of the kind of work we do.”
“First-hand experience of legal expertise”
The team at Carson McDowell welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. They told us: “Senior Partner Neasa Quigley and Partner Gerard Armstrong hosted students from Queen’s University Belfast as part of their #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme 2022. Having enjoyed some ice cream on arrival, a team from Carson McDowell took participants around the legal world, giving them first-hand experience of a range of legal expertise.”
“Will welcome students back as colleagues”
The team at Herbert Smith Freehills welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. They told us: “We were delighted to host a number of Law students from Queen’s University Belfast as part of the #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme 2022.
The students met some of the Belfast team and gained an insight into our Alternative Legal Services practice group.
Belfast colleagues and Queen’s University alumni Linet Kurian and Luke Osborne shared their experiences since joining HSF and how their careers have progressed from starting as a Legal Analyst.
The Belfast team really enjoyed meeting with the students and hope to be able to welcome some of them back as colleagues in the near future.”
“Delighted to network informally”
The team at MKB Law welcomed a group of #QUBStudents for our #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme. They told us: “Lynsey Henderson and Ruairi Maguire were delighted to speak at the final session of the #QUBCareersinLaw Insight Programme 2022, giving students an overview of their legal career, answering questions in a panel discussion, plus chatting informally with attendees afterwards at the networking buffet.
Thank you for a fantastic event.”
“Incredible ideas and presentations”
Beth MacDougall, Student Recruitment Associate at EY met a group of #QUBStudents on our #QUBInsightIntoManagement Programme. She told us: “EY were absolutely delighted to participate in #QUBInsightIntoManagement Programme with Ruby Hopkins and John McMorrow acting as group facilitators over the course of the programme.
A truly fantastic event. We completely in awe of the incredible ideas and presentations all of the students gave and were thrilled to attend as judges.”
Francesca Morelli, Co-Founder of VAVA Influence took on #QUBStudents as part of #QUBImpactProject. She told us: “We are delighted to be taking part in the #QUBImpactProject for the second year in a row as employers. In partnership with #QUBImpactProject, we’re hiring two Part-Time Marketing & Events Interns to work with us at VAVA Influence | Influencer Marketing this summer. We had some amazing applications; looking forward to welcoming the talent from QUB!”
Peter McCleery, CEO at Get Sociable took on #QUBStudents as part of #QUBImpactProject. He told us:
“We’re very grateful at GetSociable for all the help from @QUBCareers. The calibre of students has been hugely impressive, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Queen’s University Belfast as we grow.”
Queen’s Dentistry graduate, Leo Sims travelled to Kathmandu in Nepal on a three-week dentistry elective during his fourth year to see the differences between healthcare in the UK and the developing world.
I chose to study at Queen’s University Belfast because it’s part of the Russell Group of universities with high research intensity.
Furthermore, they’re also well-known for their dentistry course and they have a large international student community, which adds to the vibrancy of the student life!
Student life at Queen’s
My five years at QUB were amazing. I had the opportunity to get involved with different roles and responsibilities within clubs and societies – where I made friends for life.
I particularly enjoyed my time when I was President of the International Student’s Society where I worked with people from all walks of life and provided a home away from home for fellow international students in Belfast.
Finding the right placement
I undertook my placement during my summer holiday at the end of my fourth year. My international elective was not a compulsory component of my dental course, but my clinical tutors provided me with advice on how to organise it.
I chose Nepal as the destination for my dental elective due to its unique blend of South Asian and East Asian culture, its geographical beauty and the positive feedback I’d received from friends who had been there before. I thought it would be an eye-opening experience and it turned out to be more than that – it was an adventure of a lifetime.
Over the two weeks, I was given the opportunity to experience different departments (endodontics, restorative, periodontics and orthodontics) in the teaching hospital, as well as the chance to attend some lectures for the Nepali first-year dental students.
There was a walk-in clinic where patients would be assessed and subsequently given immediate treatment or further appointments depending on availability.
Most practitioners were trained in English hence it was not uncommon for them to use a mixture of Nepali and English when explaining procedures and treatments to patients.
To my surprise, for a hospital service, they put a lot of effort into saving a tooth, encouraging patients who have irreversible pulpitis to undergo root canal treatment. I had previously experienced a dental service in a hospital back in Malaysia, where extraction is the norm and the preferred option among patients.
Challenges in the developing world
While we often try to emulate the best clinical practice according to the latest literature, the lack of resources can prove to be a big hurdle in the developing world.
Disposable consumables and equipment are kept to a bare minimum. Burs, dental probes, dental mirrors and forceps were immersed in disinfectant and washed with soap water before being reused.
There was also limited restorative options – selection of composite shade was restricted to whichever was available at the time, a lack of disposable composite capsules meant it had to be scooped out from a common dispenser for all patients, a lack of matrix bands, transparent strips and finishing burs (only diamond burs were available in the clinic).
During my elective, there was a patient who presented with a class II cavity and required composite restoration. ‘Matrix band and wooden wedges in?’, I asked. The dentist whom I was shadowing at that time, told me ‘Yes we would use them, if we had them’, before proceeding to pack the restoration free-hand.
Insights from practicing in another country
I noticed that orthodontics in Nepal was very technical and particular when it came to measurements. Incisal length at smile, vertical and horizontal facial height, and the length between pupil were all measured and noted. Taking orthopantomogram and lateral cephalometric radiograph for angle measurement was part of the protocol for all cases.
For endodontics, due to the lack of resources, rubber dams and rotary instruments were not readily available. Sodium chloride irrigant and stainless steel hand files were used instead.
In Nepal, unlike the increasingly litigious society in the developed world, patient compliance was simply beyond exceptional. Local anaesthetics were not normally given for restorative and endodontic treatment as they were usually reserved for more invasive procedures such as an extraction (and only a minimal volume was given in these cases). Their pain tolerance certainly deserves credit.
Exploring the country
I did some exploring around Kathmandu during my free time and visited the main attractions including the Swayambhunath temple, Thamel region, and Durbar square. What’s better than having a pint while enjoying the majestic sight of Boudhanath temple at night?
Over the weekend, myself and the others from the Work the World house went to Pokhara on a 7-hour bus journey which was definitely worthwhile. A highlight of the trip was paragliding over Phewa Lake at an altitude of 2500 meters whilst indulging in the lush greenery of the landscape.
Memories to last a lifetime
My two weeks in Nepal was an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are compared to other developing nations – what presents to us as an essential may well be a luxury to others.
My experience made me realize how fortunate we are to have vast amounts of resources available when providing care in a secondary setting compared to a developing country. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to shadow different complex treatments being carried out in Kathmandu.
For a future dental practitioner, it is definitely worth taking an overseas dental elective before graduating, it’s a trip you’ll remember for life.
Landing a graduate role
Since graduation, I’ve worked as a foundation dentist based in Berkshire. Compared to previous years, my cohort had less clinical experience due to Covid-19 forcing my final year of dental school to end prematurely.
It was a very steep learning curve in the beginning but I would say it is the year I’ve progressed the most in dentistry thus far.
My experience overseas with Work the World added a different perspective of how dental care is provided in another country. I learnt a lot of transferable skills from my experience, such as communication and adaptability. It has helped with transitioning into different working environments and making the best out of them.
In the future, I hope to undertake further training in restorative dentistry but life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you will get!
Work the World specialise in creating overseas dentistry electives in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their destinations provide eye-opening insight into the challenges associated with delivering healthcare in the developing world.
MSc. Business Analytics graduate Sneha Parajuli is now a Strategic Management Analyst at KTP. Here is how she got there…
Describe your career path to date.
After finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from my home country Nepal, I was working as a Data Quality Analyst over there. My original plan was to complete my Masters and then go back to Nepal to apply my learnings. I had multiple job offers there, but right after I submitted my dissertation, the KTP role caught my attention. The role was somewhat related to my dissertation, so I decided to give it a shot. Through a series of virtual interviews during the pandemic, I was able to get more info about the goals of KTP partner company SDG and how my analytical, marketing and data-science skills align to drive that goal. Soon after the interview, I was told I had been successful, and I would be starting in January next year. The job began with few weeks of university and company inductions and product trainings. With plenty of support from both my company and university supervisors, I feel like I have adjusted well to the role now and I love my new job!
The idea that I will be able to solve the business goal of the company all while being supervised by expert faculties is what intrigued me. On one hand, I had the fresh ideas from my graduate program that I was hungry to apply in the real world, and on the other hand, the fact that I would be under the supervision of the faculty with the proven records; and that is exactly what I need at this point. Owning and managing a challenging project which is central to the strategic development and long-term growth of the business all while receiving full support from brilliant supervisors at Queen’s? COUNT ME IN!
What is your current role like? What about it makes you want to get up in the morning?
Currently I have been working mostly on capturing the overall view of how things currently work within the business, analysing it, developing, and recommending new models/strategies which requires a lot of interaction with the team. The amount of support I have received from the team here at SDG and my supervisors is incredible and I am always motivated to do more.
What does an average week look like for you?
My main goal has been about providing strategic analysis on different areas of SDG. That goal has wider scope, and my week is all about solving a subproblem from that big scope of work. This means I take part in the thoughtful discussions and meetings with the respective stakeholders, and design data-driven models as needed. Moreover, KTP has this amazing program for personal development, which I constantly use to improve my leadership, management, personal effectiveness and more through online courses throughout the week as a part of my mandatory KTP module.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
Because I “own” my own project, sometimes this can be stressful as I have to work under tight deadlines and get the work done on time. The project I am working on is something entirely new to the business and the business is changing rapidly which means it doesn’t always work out as we want it to. But with the support of my supervisors both in SDG and Queen’s as well as the team at work, we manage to get the work done.
What is the most rewarding?
Even though it has only been about four months into this role, I feel like being able to take charge and manage my own project ultimately working towards bringing a transformative, long lasting change within the organisation all while implementing what I have learned throughout my academic journey has been the best experience of my KTP journey so far. Not only this, I have also met so many talented individuals through KTP network where associates working in different companies across the UK share their experiences which is really exciting.
What are your career aspirations? What are your goals?
I believe I have a long way to go and want to keep learning more and keep developing my skills. I hope to continue working as a Strategic Analyst at least for a few years as I really love what I do. I would also love to learn more project management skills and work in a higher-level position someday.
In what way do you feel like you’re making a difference in your job?
I have received a lot of feedback about how my project, with new and innovative ideas, has brought a positive change in the business. I can also see how the business has started to incorporate a lot of my recommendations and is slowly changing to smarter ways of working and I feel like getting to be a part of this is very rewarding.
What expectations did you have about this career path that you have found differed from reality – either good or bad?
I have some experience of working a corporate job for a big company in Nepal and I felt like working for KTP is going to be somewhat similar. But I was so wrong in this regard as KTP offers so much more. KTP encourages the associates to spend approximately 10% of their time on training and development activities to help them gain valuable skills for their personal development and prepare for the future. In fact, we are also given a separate training and development budget which I think is huge.
What skills did you learn at Queen’s that have helped you in your career?
During my time at Queen’s, both as a student and working as an international ambassador, I learned a lot about time management, working under strict deadlines, teamwork, and most of my analytical skills from my course.
What advice do you have for students and graduates wanting to apply for a KTP?
Always keep being updated with the KTP openings and keep an eye out to something that interests you. Never hesitate to apply even if you think you won’t make it as there’s always a possibility that you will. Coming from someone who didn’t even think of working in the UK, I ended up getting the job I always wanted, and I am so happy I applied. KTP is much more than just a regular job, you will learn so much throughout your journey, hone your skills in so many areas and it will definitely be worth it.
How did your Queen’s experience help your personal and professional development?
Getting a master’s degree from Queen’s has been an added bonus for me in so many ways. Not just the technical knowledge from the course, I also undertook multiple leadership courses like Master your Leadership, Inspiring leaders, and Leadership in Practice which definitely helped me develop my personal skills, improve my communication and also enhance my leadership capabilities which I think instilled so much confidence in me.
What’s the one thing you’ll never forget about your time at Queen’s?
Actually, there are two – Sleepless nights during dissertation (which became so much rewarding to me later) and Graduation day as it was the day I finished my degree and was so happy!
Interested in KTP at Queen’s? KTP will feature on our @QUBCareers Instagram during the week commencing 19 July talking about creativity and lateral thinking. Visit the Gradfest2021 site to find out more.
Queen’s Chemistry student Anwin Robin has described a paid internship with the British Council’s IAESTE (International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) programme as “the best year of my life.”
Like many Queen’s students, Anwin took the opportunity to gain international experience and boost his employability skills on a paid placement abroad.
Anwin, from Dromore in County Down, moved to Switzerland in June 2019 to work with Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.
Anwin said: “During my internship I drew on my background as a chemistry student to carry out research into making stronger materials. Knowing that they may be used in the future in structures ranging from airplanes to wind turbines made my work feel tangible and relevant.”
The best year of my life
During his time in Switzerland, Anwin also had the opportunity to meet up other interns working across the country through weekend excursions organised by IAESTE, the largest global mobility programme for STEM students in the world.
Anwin added: “My time in Switzerland has been the best year of my life so far. My IAESTE placement showed me how international many companies are today and confirmed that I want to grow my work experience outside of the UK. I will forever be grateful to IAESTE for providing me with this opportunity.”
Adapting for Covid-19
Anwin enjoyed the experience so much that when Switzerland went into lockdown because of Covid-19, he chose to stay in the country and continue his internship from home. He also used this as an opportunity to develop his coding skills.
Anwin has remained in Switzerland since finishing his IAESTE placement in May. He is currently applying to further internships in the country and hopes to eventually study for a Masters in computer science.
Whilst Covid-19 has restricted much travel this summer, many IAESTE placements have shifted online in response.
Among the 15 students from Northern Ireland who are currently undertaking remote internships with organisations in the USA, India, Bangladesh and Poland, are several Queen’s students who are joining online seminars and discussions. Their subject areas include biomedical science, business and marketing, computer science, aerospace engineering and chemical engineering.
Life changing impact
Jonathan Stewart, Director of the British Council Northern Ireland, said: “It’s wonderful to hear about the lifechanging impact of Anwin’s IAESTE placement, and we wish him all the best as he starts out in his career. Despite Covid-19, the IAESTE programme has quickly adapted and continues to offer quality opportunities for our university students to gain international experience. The remote internships help to provide Northern Ireland students with new technical skills while also experiencing different cultures and ways of working.”
In Northern Ireland IAESTE is funded by the Department for the Economy and delivered by the British Council.
Queen’s STEM students interested in applying for the IAESTE programme can find more information here: