At the start of my second year, I realised how competitive it would be for me once I graduated and that’s when the internal panicking set in. Thankfully, the University of Westminster had a mentoring scheme, where I had the amazing opportunity to talk to mentors who had reached an impressive place in their careers. They gave so much incredible advice and I was left inspired, I even made it my mission exactly a year ago, to make a mark as they did and to gain as many skills as possible using the resources available. I still do not believe how much I achieved last year! Here is a recap of each month…
⁃ Started applying for the most random things, completely out of my comfort zone…
⁃ Passed on to the advanced stage of gene editors of the future!
⁃ As a society member of the First Aid Society, I was inspired to apply to St John’s Ambulance service, which was successful as I passed the interview!
⁃ It was exam season, and I was determined to achieve a first-class again.
April: (One of my favourite months)
⁃ I was elected as the vice president of the First Aid Society
⁃ Met my current mentor whom I still am in contact regularly
⁃ I spent one week in Barcelona, all costs covered by the University where I learnt more about the working culture there. I met the most amazing friends and made new professional connections and I am seriously considering moving there once I graduate (fingers crossed). Thank you so much to Westminster Working Cultures and the team (Ludo and Alex) for this opportunity!
⁃ My application for the Cavendish Living Lab, which is a finalist for the Green Gown awards, as a biopolymer scientist was successful!
⁃ I completed my training for the Carbon Literacy Programme
⁃ My internship with the Cavendish Living Lab began, where I learnt skills I did not think I would ever have the opportunity to! Thank you Dr Pooja Basnett, Dipankar Sengupta FHEA and Linda Percy. This month I became confident in:
⁃ 3D printing (A biomedical science student learning how to 3D print??)
⁃ Microbiology skills, FTIR analysis and so much more (let’s just say I know how to make bacterial cellulose and PHA in my sleep now.)
⁃ I did in fact, receive a first class for my second year.
⁃ Planned and hosted our first symposium for the Cavendish Living Lab, which was a massive success! Seeing the article posted on the School of Life Sciences was a proud moment.
⁃ Now that we successfully made bacterial cellulose and PHA, we focused on the applications.
⁃ I was a student caller for results day, where I had the privilege to talk to now, foundation and first-year students.
⁃ I was selected to participate in the Working Culture UK programme, where again, I made some incredible friends, and amazing connections and went to Liverpool! Thank you Westminster Working Cultures and Shelby. (Visiting Cognizant is where my interest in biotechnology peaked)
⁃ My DBS was cleared for St John’s Ambulance, where I could start training to become a qualified operational first aider.
October: (One of my busiest months!)
⁃ My application to become a Future Ready Mentoring Ambassador was successful! The main reason why I wanted to apply was to showcase how impressive this programme is. Without this programme, I would not have achieved half of the stuff I have done in 2023.
⁃ If you told me at the start of the year, that I would be standing in front of the vice chancellor and industry professionals, talking about my journey as a biopolymer scientist and what we achieved, hands down, the best internship, I would have laughed at you. As someone terrified of public speaking, this has to be one of the highlights of the year.
⁃ I decided that I needed to do some public speaking as if the previous event was not enough… I had the opportunity to talk to students who applied for the cycle one mentoring programme, where I told them all about my experience of being a mentee.
⁃ Whilst talking to Sachintha Abeyrathne, a fellow Sri Lankan who wanted to bring the Sri Lankan Society back to life, we worked hard to achieve it!
⁃ Met Professor Dibyesh Anand and Professor Peter Bonfield at an event where we publicised the society.
⁃ As the vice president of the First Aid Society, we hosted our first collaboration with 3 other societies, which consisted of, you guessed correctly, more public speaking, and was a massive success!
⁃ Became the treasurer of the Sri Lankan Society and planned a lot for our first event of the year
⁃ Co-hosted a successful Mentor Ambassador Take-Over Event hosted online!
⁃ Visited Cognizant for their talk on AI’s influence on breast cancer, and this confirmed that I wanted to go into biotechnology.
⁃ Had training with St John Ambulance to become an operational first aider
⁃ Deadlines for the coursework were coming up…
⁃ We had our first Sri Lankan Society meet and greet! Thank you Peter Bonfield, Dibyesh Anand, Nilu Wansadhipathi-Kannangara and Stephen Wallis for attending!
⁃ My first blog was posted via the university and emailed!
⁃ Passed all my St Johns training and became an operational First Aider!!!!
⁃ Met all my friends during the working cultures reunion again!
⁃ Achieved the hold award for employability from the University of Westminster Careers and Employability Service
Can I just highlight that all of these achievements could not have been done without the amazing extracurriculars that the University of Westminster provides? It took me 20 good years to finally be able to host events, enhance my leadership skills, and presentations and develop good networking skills, all thanks to attending a non-Russell group university. To answer my previous question, yes, attending a non-Russell group University has been nothing but amazing for me.
Thank you to Savini Nanayakkara, one of our final year BSc Biomedical Science students, for writing this blog.
Please be reminded that if you need careers support, your Careers Team is only an email / a message away!
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