Struggling out of a 2:2 this final year: my Biomedical Science tale

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I barely bore you with events of my university life on here but I know once in a while I drop one or two major ones. Going back to 2015, my first year, I had blogged about my resits (What if? #17), how awful it felt to had seen my name amongst those resitting Genetics and Statistics. How sad and unlucky my summer was. What I didn’t include was calling my parents and letting them know about the situation. The disappointment in their tone as they spoke to me whilst trying to be good parents and not make me feel worse about the whole situation, the after effect of the whole conversation moved me. I guess my attitude towards everything relating to university and my course became more questionable as days, months and years went by.

Second year was heavy. As my course is a three-year course here in the UK, more pressure was mounted on me and more effort was equally demanded with the load that came with the 12 modules I had done last year. The hustle to secure a placement made it even worse but that wasn’t an excuse not to scale through. At the end of the year, I was awoken yet again by another resit which until today I have managed to  hide from my parents as I felt they would be bitter and really angry towards me if I had told them. Genetics again! At some point in time I joked about it to my friends, telling them how I’m “KINGING” in genetics resit zone. What felt terrible isn’t the fact that I had a resit, what made me break down most nights was the fact that 2:2 ends up being my portion even when I always seem to start off very well at the beginning of each semester. At some point, I just stopped asking why and accepted that university wasn’t for me. Thoughts of dropping out kicked in every now and then but the friends in my circle kept me grounded. They said my prayers with me, cried with me and most of all, they contributed to my healing and strength which led me into pursuing my final year.

It’s the 25th of February today, 22 weeks into final year and there is still no salvaging to my results so far. It hasn’t been stable and at the same time it hasn’t been the most brilliant. One half of my project and most of my course works released so far have been fluctuating with 2:1’s and 2:2’s. My first semester results came out and this time Genetics crossed the cut off point with only 7 marks and I’m most grateful to God for that miracle! the other paper sat comfortably on a 2:1 which to me is gracious. Hard-work and resilience have been with me since the school year started and to be honest with you,  it is a struggle trying to move up from a 2:2. I am 3 weeks into second semester  with 3 more course works, 4 more exams and my main project to finish. I am still with hope and so should you who is reading this thinking you’re sitting in the worst position or situation in life.

If everyone was equal, there wouldn’t be no school, no competition whatsoever and definitely no evolution but other people’s success shouldn’t stall us from ours or blind us from attaining  unmeasurable success instead it should push us.

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I did tweet this last week but it doesn’t mean I can’t do better. In fact it is not an excuse! It is the reason why I’m pushing to move on from a 2:2, proving to myself that even if it’s not for me, it is definitely not impossible!

I hope you find a grip too and go on from there dear reader. Do leave your thoughts and comments in the box below. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.

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Securing an undergraduate placement in the UK: my horror story.

I had long doubted my patience until the day I decided to get a gap year from university, working anywhere associated with what I’m currently studying. It’s been over 5 months since my final year started and over 8 since I got rejected by the organization I placed my last hope on. Part of the rejections I got made me embrace this final lap and part has been chaotic and has eventually pushed me to share this. I believe that there are quite a few or many students who would want to know this stage I didn’t quite conquer.

Firstly, I’m an international student and not to say that interviewers or most organizations or bodies that accept placement students discriminate against international students but let’s be real here. Any country whatsoever would consider taking theirs first before any other unless you are exceptionally suitable/ there isn’t any domestic student available to take that role, then you might just be lucky. Anyway, I had that in mind long before I even started cooking up a CV. Second year resumed September 2015 and my university already started putting up advertisements for the roles linked with Biomedical science, which is what I’m currently studying. It is a broad course involving various health and life sectors, therefore adverts were placed on student central (a learning and assessment medium for most universities in England) nearly everyday.

Some of the successful interviews I had gotten were partly due to the help my university (the University of Brighton) had  rendered. They helped get my CV to look more presentable and appropriate, they constantly sent direct emails to me whenever a new position came up, they always replied to most emails I sent and was always willing to give me advice whenever I needed help. That’s really what they can offer anyway, they can’t hand you a place!, don’t know about other universities but I’m speaking of mine.

Fast forward to when the application war began, bear in mind that 1st semester had  already started and I had 6 modules to cover, each with their coursework and examination so you can imagine keeping up with the stress. Most colleagues of mine weren’t interested, so it was a lot harder to share my pain or have them relate with me on something they were not interested in. I applied to quite a few number of pharmaceutical companies including GSK, Pfizer, Nestle and many more. Some would have you submit your application online, which usually takes a long time and after which you also need to do an online test or even several tests before you get an interview which is not even guaranteed. Pheew! GSK, I remember vividly, doing everything until it got to the online test, after a week or so, I got a nicely written rejection. I did apply also to organizations that supported health science and governmental bodies too, all to no avail. Some won’t even bother to leave you with a rejection, you’ll just be waiting for your saviour to come.  To be honest with you, until today, I can’t tell where my perseverance came from. I kept going with all the piles of rejection. It was really saddening.

After my first semester ended, I was able to convince two of my close friends to get a placement year, sharing with them the benefits and long term joy it would leave them. Thankfully, I had them with me for the rest of the application journey. We were told around April 2016 by our placement team that the NHS affiliated hospital (Royal County Sussex) here in Brighton would be putting up various positions, so we should create a totally different CV that complies to the roles that would be advertised, including in it our choices (ie the roles you wish to work in. For eg. haematology, histology etc). We were more than excited because it is commutable and their acceptance rate from our university is high from statistical indications and also not a lot of us were running for the positions.

This was my final hope so I wrote my CV more than three times, had it checked by different well read people and the placement team too and waited patiently for the D day. My friends did too. It was a few weeks before the exam, the advert came up on student central, I applied and waited. We three had gotten an email saying we got ourselves an interview. I was overly joyed and happier that it was the same day for the three of us. One week before my second semester examination, we had gone for the interview and we all came out smiling and hoping. I began to imagine myself even working there and all, you know how your hormones mess you up, yes! it did to me.

It took nearly a month before we got our feedbacks, my friends had called me with excitement that they had been accepted and they would be resuming soon, screaming that I should check my email, that they should have given me a place too. As I opened my email and read the first line, I just closed the whole link and started weeping. I literally weeped out loud. I felt stupid for having persevered the whole time and placing all that effort I should have focused on my studies on placement places I ended up not getting. I questioned what really interviewers wanted, lies? Till today I can’t really say.

Truth is, some people apply the first time and just get it and others are never lucky. I feel like the criteria for getting a place not just a placement place but for most jobs are not always considered and looked into. Most interviewees who end up not getting a place especially suitable candidates don’t always see fairness in recruitments. I believe a new system of accepting employees should be put in place and also placement applications shouldn’t feel like hell for students. More universities should have affiliates where they can  directly place students that choose to do one. I understand international students (me and the rest of them) here in the UK should know better when we signed up to come here to study that there are limited jobs and opportunities considering the population and how small in comparison the country is , but efforts should be made at least to have us secure affiliate places here or abroad with the fees we pay. Home students too.

This is my horror story.

Are there any questions you want to ask regarding this? Or thoughts you wish to share, let me know in the comment box below or email me using the contact form. Thank you.

Dyna Ekwueme Copyright, 2017.