Applying University knowledge to Placement work

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📥  Education

Over the past 11 months I have been working at Harbour Sport in New Zealand. Being able to apply my university knowledge to my work placement has been key. From university I gained specific skills that I can apply to a range for work areas, such as communication, networking, skills development, and team work in different settings. It is important to utilise aspects you have learnt at university in a work environment, as this theory can be put into practice.

One of my main areas of work at Harbour Sport is Event Management (check out my earlier blogs). I studied event management in my 2nd year of university, where my group held a successful university and celebrity event, ‘A Question of Sport’. This event was created to raise money for different charities, and involved a panel of celebrities going against the winning quiz team of the night to become the ultimate champions. From prior to and at university, I have gained skills from learning about events and from running the actual events myself. This has enabled me to apply these skills to event work on placement. I have been able to understand the events terminology used and the processes to create an event from an idea to the final product. This has benefited me greatly and I have now been able to expand my knowledge about event management, which will further help me when writing my dissertation and in my future career.

By researching journal articles and templates for processes, I have been able to further broaden my knowledge and apply them to different areas of my work, such as health and event management. Therefore I have come across different pieces of information that I have been able to use myself and share with my work colleagues. Currently I am writing the ‘Harbour Sport Event Management Best Practice Report’. I have been able to access a lot of material to create the report. Here I have been researching a wide range of event management areas, such as: transport and travel, accommodation, VIP guests, communication, project team, location and venue, and debrief. This report will become a critical aspect for Harbour Sport to use when they conduct events, as it outlines what processes they need to do and why they need to follow them. It also will be a very useful document for myself, as I have gained more knowledge from further researching event management, and by setting all the information out in an easy to read report will justify this knowledge.

Therefore it is really important to make sure you use the knowledge that you have learnt in university in the workplace. This will benefit your placement work by making it easier to understand processes. Also the knowledge that you gain whilst on placement will benefit your final university year and future career decisions. I have learnt so much by going on placement for a year. I think it is really beneficial for your career and opens your eyes to the really “work” world. I am so happy that I came on placement and the fact that it is in New Zealand makes the experience even more worthwhile.

Harbour Sport Crew


Volunteers - New Zealand

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📥  Education

New Zealand is still treating me well and I am continuing to really enjoying my placement at Harbour Sport. One of my focal areas of work is ‘Volunteers’. A project I manage for Harbour Sport is to recognise volunteers. This is the ‘Harbour Sport Volunteer of the Month Award’ where we award one volunteer each month with a certificate and a $50 voucher for all the hard work they do.

Volunteer of the Month Logo

Volunteers are nominated by members of the public. They send in nomination forms telling us why this volunteer should get the award. The nominations are about people from an array of volunteering backgrounds, such as those who have volunteered for 25+ years, a great coach, increased membership numbers at their club, or even good at training new comers to the club. From these nominations I select 3 volunteers to be put forward to the Volunteer Working Party (which includes myself) where we vote for the monthly winner. These nominations are all outstanding making it very hard to choose a winner.

Once the winner has been chosen, I organise the next stage by contacting the nominator to arrange for me to present the award. This could be at their club, school, or the place they volunteer at. This involves emails and phone calls coordinating dates, times, location, and the support audience that will be at the presentation.

It is really interesting to meet all of the winners and to show them that volunteers are appreciated. All of the winners do a great job, so each month after the award presentation I interview them about their volunteering to learn their volunteer story. After this I write an article for the Harbour Sport website and send my article to the newspapers where they get published.

The ‘Harbour Sport Volunteer of the Month’ is a great award, as volunteers get noticed for their awesome work. The award is a legacy I hope to hold at Harbour Sport.

You can read all my articles on the Harbour Sport website: and search Volunteer of the Month


Green Prescription - New Zealand

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📥  Education

I’ve now been on placement at Harbour Sport in New Zealand for 10 months. I love New Zealand more and more the further I explore and an added bonus is I still love my job at Harbour Sport. One of my areas of work is ‘Green Prescription’, for this I am a ‘Patient Support Person’ (PSP).

“Green Prescription is a nationwide programme that motivates sedentary adults to become active. Patients that would benefit from an exercise programme are referred to us by doctors and practice nurses. Green Prescription offers 3-4 months of phone support to assist with their motivation and provides all the information needed to lead an independently active lifestyle”(Harbour Sport, 2013). Therefore my job as a PSP is to conduct the phone calls to assist the patients in becoming independently active.

Green Prescription Logo

These patients are prescribed with exercise to improve their health rather than regular medication. Most of these patients don’t have any severe medical conditions and are generally referred because they are either overweight or their condition can benefit from regular exercise e.g. depression.

Every week I will have around 20-30 patients to call; the first call would to be discuss the health issues and their interest in exercise options within the area of where they live. The next 3 calls would be to follow up how they are getting on with the exercise and healthy diet.

The majority of my patients are from North West Auckland, Helensville area. The main exercise I prescribe for my patients is swimming or water walking. There is a great thermal pool in Helensville called Parakai Springs. This is perfect for a lot of my patients due to the warmer water. However if they do not like swimming, then I will recommend the gym, walking, tai chi, and home exercise.

I also discuss nutritional information and their diet, especially if they are overweight. The more health information patients have access to the more likely their overall health will improve.
I have a lot of very successful patients who get more active and improve their diets. Also a bonus is that patients actually see and feel an improvement in themselves. This shows that Green Prescription is valuable due to the amount of people the team can help over one month. It is really nice to know that a simple phone call can change someone’s life.


Events: ‘Mud Run’ - New Zealand

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📥  Education

Whilst on placement at Harbour Sport in New Zealand, I have been working in Event Management. A call out for a brand new event was set and with my interest in one day working in Event management I became part of the events team to develop the event idea – “The Mud Run”. The Mud Run concept involves children aged 6-13 to race through a muddy and wet obstacle course with an element of challenge and fun for kids - a bit different to a normal running event.

From August to November 2012, I played a key part in planning and delivering a trial mud run to test out the idea of the event. This was really good as I could see how a full event runs; starting from just an idea to the actual event. The Trail was held in December and was a huge success. Having a trial allowed us to see areas that would work really well and those that needed improvement for the big event which is in September 2013.

Planning for the new event started in January 2013, my roles have been to:
- Research obstacles ideas. The event has a range of different obstacles, including mud crawl, soap slide, wall jump, muddy string dangle, creek crawl, tyre tunnel and other exciting and muddy obstacles.
- Develop an obstacle course route. This involved going to see the land at the venue; some areas are really muddy, others hilly, and others straight. So I had to see what route would be the best by incorporating the land and obstacles.
- Determine the materials required to build the course. This was completed by getting quotes for all materials, first aid, port-a-loos, t-shirts, etc. This would either be over the phone, emails, or face to face.
- Generate ideas for possible sponsors. This involves linking companies and materials that we need for the Mud Run. This would allow us to work with them to supply material for the event and also promote them. I investigated materials from a range of shops and the companies which could be most useful for the Mud Run. These companies could be potential event or obstacle sponsors.
- Assist in the promotion of the Event Name Competition. This was done by creating a photo information board, flyers, posts on the Harbour Sport Facebook page and website, and contacting local schools.
- Other logistical work that needed to be done for the event, such as, car park mapping, health and safety plan, wavier form, and general research.

The event was launched on 25th March 2013. We decided that the event needed a better name then ‘Mud Run’. Therefore on 25th March we also launched the ‘Naming Competition’. Schools can win $300 worth of prizes for the best name! Even before the event had been officially launched there was so much attention, interest and excitement generated. Harbour Sport has an annual event on 24th March, called the ‘Shore to Shore’. This event allowed me to promote the mud run using a photo and information board, and flyers. People were already entering the competition before it had been officially launched.

It is an amazing and a great experience to be part of an event project team. I have gained so much knowledge and now have a greater understanding about how to plan and produce a successful event. Unfortunately I will be back in England when the event takes place on 8th September 2013. I think it would be great if the ‘Mud Run’ did become an annual event for Harbour Sport. When I return to New Zealand it will be great to see the event I worked so hard on, being continued and children having fun when participating.


From Intern to CTO - An interview with 10gen's Eliot Horowitz

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

It's one of the many reasons I love the working culture at 10gen; where else would you find the CTO of the company happily sitting down to chat to the intern?

Eliot Horowitz, co-founder and CTO of 10gen, knows all too well the perks and pitfalls of intern life. Though now head of a 75-person engineering team, Eliot began his professional life when he was 19 years old, when he undertook a summer internship with DoubleClick, a company co-founded by Dwight Merriman, 10gen's Chairman and fellow co-founder.


Before he jetted back to New York, I had the chance to ask Eliot about his time as an intern, and to enquire about any advice he would offer prospective and current interns of today:

C: What motivated you to pursue an internship in the first place - were you sure it was the right path for you, or did you have doubts along the way?

E: The reason I did it was that I was in the middle of deciding between a couple of different career choices, and I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. I had to decide in the Fall, and there were two majors I was going to pursue. My internship helped me solidify my decision, which was great.

Deciding to undertake an internship is a big investment, both for the intern and the company hiring them - what do you see as the value of internships for both parties?

C: What do you feel the value of an internship is?

E: I think the value of internship for the intern is that they provide actual, real-world experience. When you're in school, especially in computer science, everything you learn is far too theoretical. You're given a conceptual task, and told to fill in its functions. In the real world, you actually have to complete that task.

My internships also definitely opened my eyes to what a 'real' company was like, as I'd never really been in that environment before.

For a company, one reason is  that interns add a lot of enthusiasm and excitement to a team, and that can be really refreshing.

Two, within a tech company, it helps because it gives the engineers an outlet for ideas. Often engineers will have their own projects, but too little time to follow through on them, so it's great for them to be able to say "hey, I have this crazy idea I'd like to spend two weeks on but I don't have the time, so could you (the intern) research it and see if it makes sense or not?"

Three, in terms of hiring, it's the best interview you can possibly have. If you get an intern you really like, you're going to do all you can to try and hire them.

C: There’s been much controversy over the issue of the unpaid internship - what’s your personal opinion on the issue?

E: It's actually not a big problem in the computer science field, where the majority are paid. I do believe internships should be paid though - after all, it's work. Interns are bringing value to the company, and they absolutely should be paid.

The difference is, if it's unpaid, it should be viewed as they're only coming to observe. You can't expect them to work for nothing.

C: What’s your strongest feeling when you look back at your internship days now - best time of your life, thank goodness that’s over or something in-between?

E: I really liked being an intern - I didn't have any major responsibilities so I could just try different projects and go around asking people what they thought, and how I should do something. You know...their expectations were quite low so it really was very easy to exceed expectations and learn a lot! When you're an intern you are supposed to not know anything - you're a blank slate - and you can just learn so much.

C: If you had the choice now, would you go back to being an intern for a bit?

E: If I could pause my 'real life'? Yes!

C: If you could offer one piece of advice to not only your past self, but current and prospective interns, what would it be?

E: Observe everything.

It's not just a matter of gaining skills, but learning about how people interact in real life situations at work and figuring out what you want from a working environment; if you can say 'I like the fact that there are flexible working hours' or 'I don't like that there's too much travel', then you can actually make an important decision about what you want to do.

C: Finally, other than your work with 10gen and MongoDB, tell me about something you are passionate about?

[He struggles with this - 10gen is obviously all-encompassing]

E: Okay, I really like playing with robots.

I took a Lego robotics class with my daughter, and she learnt how to build one with me helping her. In fact, that was the inspiration for the 10gen All-Hands robot competition!


Living in London: Working at The IoP

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📥  Psychology

Yep, another inspiring post title for you there... Sorry I haven’t posted for, well, an age! Let’s just say it’s always easier to notice the passage of time in retrospect. So this post might seem a little out-of-date, but I think worth posting none the less.

However this post will be of little help (I imagine) to most of you looking at placements in London; if you’re looking for guidance on finding a house I suggest you take a look at the tags on the Placements Blog and go through other intern’s posts… I’m living with family friends this year, in South London. My house hunting consisted of asking very sweetly and promising to do some house (and cat) sitting every one in a while, so I can’t give any insight into what it’s like trying to find a place in the city… I can however talk about what it’s like to work at the IoP, and how much different (or not) it is working on placement compared to at university.



Maybe Podiatry is not the one!

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📥  Health

Hi everyone!
I know I start my blog like this every time but I wish time would slow down, I kind of wish I had a stop watch (one like Bernard had when I was younger) as it doesn’t seem two minutes since the last time I wrote and that was over a month ago. I am now officially an adult... It was lovely to meet up with some fellow Bath students for my 21st birthday and party in true Bath style! It did make me realise how much I miss uni and how long we have all been away. I never thought I would say this but I actually can’t wait to go to back to lectures & more importantly back to SCORE... (minus that Thursday feeling)!bernard2tv
Although I am really excited to get back to Bath & for the summer that does mean that my placement is coming to an end, with only 36 days left the saying 'so much to do and so little time' keeps playing on my mind. The past 10 months have been some of the best, I feel I have learnt so much and developed both academically and grown up as a person. Anyway enough of this it is making me sad about leaving as I am going to miss placement life so much!
I thought in this blog I would reflect on my career aspirations and how they have changed since I started my placement, the main reason why I came to Salford was to get a bigger insight into Podiatry. My career aspirations prior to placement was to go on to study this field on a second degree. I am really glad I choose to come and do this placement and I think that it has given me the insight I need whilst also allowing me to learn and develop many skills which are relevant and will be beneficially for the remainder of my degree.
I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think that going on to study podiatry is the career path which I want to take. I do have an interest in most of the areas, however, personally I am not as interested in the clinical side of the job (corns, fungal infections & callus's are not what I want to be working with). The areas I am interested in can be approached from another direction - through research such as biomechanics. I do see myself staying in postgraduate education with my new plan to hopefully study a Masters and then my dream to go on to study a PhD.
This year has certainly done its job allowing me to work out if podiatry is for me and even though I have decided against it, my placement has been invaluable and I still have a keen interest in foot and ankle biomechanics and more so in gait analysis. I feel like I have got an insight into the life as a research student, I have fit-in perfectly and could imagine myself progressing further in this lifestyle. I am planning to have a discussion with my supervisor at Salford to see how to go about applying to Masters and PhD programs and to get more information about funding and in general the opportunities available. I need to see what different universities offer, for example, if I need to do a masters which I can’t get funding for will I need to work for a year to save up (although I know this answer already).
Back to the present… In terms of my project the start of my data collection went really smoothly and I've really enjoyed it, even though I have collected all of the data independently, It made me realise how much I love being in the lab and working with the subjects.  On placement I have been able to meet so many individuals, from all different backgrounds who approach things in different ways which is personally why I think I have learnt so much.
photo (2)

'An example of designing the custom orthotic to fit the mesh which I made from the plaster casts of the feet'

Before I could start testing I had to design all of the custom orthotics to get them manufactured and I had to design a protocol. I sent off all of the designs for the custom orthotics in batches and with a delay due to the bank holiday I am now waiting for the last batch of 6 orthotics to arrive so I can test the final subjects. I am hoping these will arrive by the end of the week so I can fit the testing in asap, I have started slowly analysing the data using Matlab and have set myself a deadline of next Friday to get all of the pressure data analysed and hopefully to get some stats done. Then I will be on track, however, I can feel that next week is going to be a hard week especially with the Manchester derby on Monday (so once again wish me luck).
Life up north is still very enjoyable, although with the Easter holidays at the moment for the Manchester unis the student area where I live is like a ghost town, luckily the two girls I live with are dedicated to the cause and with 'dissertation-handings' looming, they have come back to Manchester and are working in the library so I am not on my own. Anyway I better get back to work, like I said 'so much to do - so little time!'

Oh Gaii Parii

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

Ohhh Gai Parii…the source of so much inspiration for so many people; artists, writers, lovers, painters…the French capital has been almost exhausted by the countless descriptions that feature its widely recognized landmarks.

Therefore the expectations and preconceptions that accompany a stay in this photogenic city are ginormous.  As the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald pondered weighty matters in cafés on the Left Bank and Picasso and Cezanne regularly attended Gertrude Stein’s intellectual evenings at her salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, and Apollinaire composed revolutionary poems in the form of the Eiffel Tower, one cannot help but wonder what the next 6 months in this inspirational city will entail…

However, despite such a backdrop, the reality for the regular placement student is very much the contrary. No ground breaking literature, no revolutionary pieces of art, no grand romantic gestures. I consider it  more of a chance to bumble along, wander through the narrow streets, stopping to warm up in a café in a simple effort to try and appreciate the magical grandeur and wonders of this city.  

Although, not is all quite as magical and romantic as is always thought…

Bracing the streets on a bike snatches you right back out of your little Parisian enchanted bubble. The dog eat dog nature of Place de La Concorde, where its everyman for himself, with cars coming from all directions, motorbikes overtaking on the inside, police vans causing mayhem, is an awakening experience in the mornings, before 6 hours in the office..

Moody waiters in cafés dampen on your vibe when you simply ask for a glass of water and they go off on a rant about how they are so busy and you should have ordered it along WITH your coffee. Pretentious Parisians, cigarette in hand, blow smoke in your face and look at you judgmentally, JUST as you manage to step right in one of the piles of dog poo that litter the city… whether the problem resides with the Parisian street cleaners or with the French dogs evident bowel problems…I just don’t know, but it is quite obscene!

But, fear not, a croissant and a café au lait or a smiling tramp or the sun breaking through the clouds over Notre Dame, make everything ok again!


From Patagonia to Paris

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

The inaccessibility of this land is summed up most eloquently by those old Patagonian folk who call a 30 minute ferry ride to the mainland “GOING TO CHILE.” Many consider the country to end in Puerto Montt, the last commercial capital before the remote stretches of Patagonia begin. Writer Lucas Bridges even wrote about Patagonia, ‘In those far-away places, a patient was either dead or better by the time the doctor arrived’…


Neither of these assertions inspires much confidence. Particularly not in the case of two rather inexperienced, unprepared city dwellers on an expedition into the Patagonian wilderness..


An array of jaw-dropping scenery are all there for the next Tom, Dick or Harry to explore; radiant blue glaciers, azure lakes, shimmering icebergs, emerald fairy-tale forests, rickety bridges, alarming ascents, rugged terrain and looming peaks.


Torres Del Paine

Horrendously unprepared for the conditions of this diverse landscape..a 9 day trek in South America’s finest National Park, Torres del Paine, was an emotional, turbulent journey and only left us both pining to return.

Ill-equipped with a ‘tent’, not even worthy for camping in the New Forest, with a waterproof cover the size of a napkin, we became the laughing stock of the parks gauchos and forest dwellers. Pitching our tent in the middle of a campsite, with little protection from wind and rain (but away from the mosquitos) we were swiftly told that we would wake up in the morning to find ourselves floating in the lake…


However such ignorance does have its up sides. As we hiked round the circuit, word had got round about two english girls traipsing gayly along the cliffs..and to this effect, one could say, we became almost the Queens of Torres del Paine. With their most honorable intentions in mind, the gauchos and park rangers lured us into their huts with offers of hot coffee, biscuits and unending supplies of chocolate. We were treated to luxury tents when they were going spare, that didn’t leave you attempting to make an island with your clothes to raise yourself above the inch of water seeping into your sleeping bag. We were even whisked off to a secret beach to watch the icebergs float past on one of the parks glacial lakes..


They say you can have four seasons in a day in this region. If the weather is clear panoramas are everywhere. On other occasions side long rain drives itself into your face, a snow storm hides the pathway, and a biting cold weighs on your spirits. Within minutes the sunlight breaks through the clouds, the strong sun rays providing a delightful respite. Gale force winds, at times can be your enemy, driving you off the side of the snowy mountain, at times your friend as it beats away rain clouds and creates a breathtaking rainbow spray off the lake.



What was meant to be a day recuperating in the most southern Chilean town of Punta Arenas, on the edge of the Magellan straight, turned into a few as we were became hostages to this captivating town. A series of strange coincidences meant we at first had experienced the Magellanic hospitality which pervades all local cultures, undeterred (or perhaps nurtured by) nature’s inhospitality. Remarkably friendly, relaxed and generous the folk on the this land at the end of the world are a species of their own.

90 km south of Punta Arenas is the most southernly point on the continent, Cabo Froward, accessible along wind whipped cliffs and marked by the last light house on the Americas Faro San Isidro. Trekking through rugged area was made wonderfully more enjoyable as we were joined by two dogs for 5 days and nights. Although delightful company, our rations had to be split into 4, and a 2 man tent became even more cramped..



Over And Out

📥  Politics Languages & International Studies

It is with great sadness that we compose this last entry…after over 4 months of Chilean antics, our time in this incredible country comes to an end. With Charlie heading home for a cosy build up to Christmas and I, in a last ditch attempt to prolong my discovery into this wonderful continent, head into the Patagonian wilderness.

It is difficult to summarize our time here, how to put into words such a huge variety of experiences, emotions and discoveries. All we can say, is that it has been a truly incredible experience.

As a country forged in a narrow space between the Andes and the Pacific, it isn’t easy when your two main claims to fame are General Pinochet and a couple of the largest earthquakes on record. Although, on the whole, it is nicer to be remembered for a natural disaster than a national one..

So, to say the least, we arrived with few expectations, having little considered what living in such a far off country would entail, and calculating the months until we would find ourselves in the comfort of our homes once again, nourished and looked after..

However, the initial whirlwind of discovery and excitement that one experiences upon arrival in a new place did not subside as we expected.

From the driest desert in the world to the massive glacial fields of the South, this country is a haven for a unique, intense and inspirational adventure. Like so many have done before us, we have tried to explore and discover this country as much as possible, our observations, differing little from our counterparts but a personal discovery nonetheless!

In such a country of contrasts, there is endless food for thought; different opinions, perspectives and attitudes are thrown up in the air, shot down, debated, questioned, it truly is a daily  boggling mental debacle. And all in a language that one could say is on the same level of comprehensibility as Cockney Rhyming Slang. It has been a challenge but without sounding too cliche, we have blown away in every single way, over and over again. The people, the places, the paila de marina, the pisco the list goes on.

Not only is the contrasting geography of Chile a fascinating aspect to this country, but the people are a species of their own. Incredibly resilient, perhaps a product of the country’s violent past and the fact that everyone has an earthquake story, welcoming and accepting, open-minded and yet all slightly insane. Their laid-back lifestyle and ‘anything-goes’ attitude is dangerously contagious..the way of life here can be almost addictive. Alongside these people, in this incredible country we have well and truly lived the dream and in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back”!