Collaborate, Communicate and Conserve

Todd Burlington is a current Physics student at the University of Exeter. He talked to us about his internship at the Met Office, collaborative projects and #TechnoRhino

Todd and #TechnoRhino in the Career Zone

With the help of the Career Zone I spent this summer on an internship at the Met Office’s Informatics Lab. I took advantage of the Access 2 Internships (A2I) scheme offered by the Career Zone. This scheme helped me with travel costs, which allowed me to easily get to work, and in addition to this the application reviews, interview practice and career planning no doubt helped a lot in securing my internship.

‘The Informatics Lab employs scientists, designers and technologists, all of which leads to a very interesting working environment where collaboration is at the very heart, blurring the lines between technology, design, and science.’

The Informatics Lab is a new and very different team. The lab has eight full-time staff and operates as a rapid prototyping R&D centre. The idea behind the lab is to quickly trial new technologies for the Met Office, and produce prototypes of how they could be used. To achieve this, the lab has everything it needs in-house. It employs scientists, designers and technologists, all of which leads to a very interesting working environment where collaboration is at the very heart. These are the people blurring the lines between technology, design, and science.

You’ve probably seen some rhino sculptures around Exeter; they’re part of Paignton Zoo’s Great Big Rhinos Project. This involves placing rhinos around the South West in a mass public art event. IMG_1210

#TechnoRhino was developed as a collaboration between the Met Office Informatics Lab and Paignton Zoo. The collaboration was born out of the idea that the lines between technology and design are becoming increasingly blurred. With this in mind, what could the Met Office achieve if presented with a rhino? The Met Office is one of the biggest technology companies in the South West, and what goes on here far outstrips just predicting the weather for the TV. This surprised me when I arrived: the scope of their work is much larger than I ever thought.

It makes sense that the Informatics Lab would be the right people to push the edge of what is possible in a public art event. The way they thought they would do this is by using LEDs. My involvement in this project extended from the very start to finish, developing the software to power the LEDs as well as constructing the hardware required to operate them, all in addition to organising visit days with external organisations for #TechnoRhino’s tour. I then oversaw these days, interacting with the public in places such as the RAMM and Exeter Library.

Visiting these different locations allows #TechnoRhino to showcase the Great Big Rhino Project. Hopefully, due to how different the Met Office’s rhino is to what has been produced before, a lot of interest would be generated for the Great Big Rhinos Project. The project aims to raise awareness of the endangered species of the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, of which there are only 60 left in the wild. With this in mind, any way to generate interest is very welcome.

‘The Access to Internship (A2I) scheme is a wonderful opportunity which you should wholeheartedly take advantage of.’

Not only was this a cool project to work on, but it was for a very important cause. Hopefully, whilst #TechnoRhino has been on tour, a more people have gotten interested and donated to an excellent cause.

Working here has fundamentally changed my outlook on my future career plans. It has made me more eager than ever to dive into the world of work, but it has also changed my outlook on where I see myself ending up. I now expect more from my future career than I did before. I cannot see myself working somewhere with a ‘traditional’ working culture – I just loved the freedom and learning that came from a place like the Informatics Lab.

Luckily, our University has enabled me to really benefit from the experiences that come from working at such a world leading organisation. The Access to Internship (A2I) scheme is a wonderful opportunity which you should wholeheartedly take advantage of.

Getting a Part-Time Job

Having a part-time while you study doesn’t just help pay the rent; it can really boost your professional skills, and make your CV stand out to graduate recruiters. Finding a job in Exeter can feel daunting, but Jen Hardwick, Student Employment Co-ordinator tells us how it’s done.

What’s out there?

Everything really! We’ve advertised jobs from working on a mushroom farm in Exeter to stewarding opportunities with BBC’s ‘Flog It’. The opportunities are varied, local and paid. Some of the jobs we advertise only employ you for one day, some exist only during Term time, and others expect you to commit a few hours each week all year round. However, the University recommends not working more than 15 hours a week, and you may have to be more flexible than you thought about your shift pattern.

Study to be a barrister, work as a barista (sorry)
Study to be a barrister, work as a barista (sorry)

What should I go for?

Most of the jobs we advertise are retail and catering positions in the city centre. During the Autumn Term many shops are recruiting for part-time staff for the busy Christmas period. This means they want you to stay and work throughout December and January. These jobs are ideal for International students* and anyone staying near Exeter during vacation periods.

*If you’re planning on working here for the first time and are not from the UK you will probably need a National Insurance number

Term-time jobs on campus are the most popular positions, so expect these to be very competitive: An easy way to search for these is to type ‘University of Exeter’ as a keyword to MyCareerZone and select the ‘casual term time work’ option in the ‘type of work’ category. These roles include working in the Ram, Marketplace or in various departments at the University, but can also include Brand Ambassador roles which can give you great experience in sales and networking.

If you already have a skill or business StudentTraders can connect you to local employers in the community, and can give your free stall at our annual craft fair to sell your products, boost your entrepreneurial skills, and earn income. Working in the community as tutor, childminder or gardener shows the ability to build positive relationships and are usually minimal hours but well paid.

How do I find these jobs?

We have a team who source local part-time work, and we also receive requests from employers on campus and in the local area to promote their opportunities. Each day we add these new jobs to MyCareerZone. For this reason alone, it’s the best place to start your search.

Other great places to find work include our Casual Jobs and Internships Fair, we run one in October, and one in February. These events enable employers from the local area to come onto campus and advertise their roles face to face with students. All these employers are looking for students to work for them either immediately over the vacation periods or are recruiting for bank staff.

Can you help me find a job, or help with my job application?

Absolutely. If you’d like some support please come and ask for a ‘Job Search’ appointment in the Career Zone. We’ll spend 15 minutes helping you to find the most relevant opportunities for your situation, and we can check your CV too.

We hope this helps

Check out our tips on finding part time work and don’t forget that we’re here to help. Email or book a Job Search appointment if you have any questions.