As part of my studies at the University of Hertfordshire I opted to take a placement year at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory where I had to learn new skills on the job, working to precision, provide excellent customer service and liaising with other members of a multidisciplinary team. Most of the research at the laboratory was geared up towards laser-driven nuclear fusion, and I was able to work on one of the lasers; the Vulcan.
I have just graduated with first class honours in BSc Physics from the University of Hertfordshire and got accepted onto a graduate scheme with Frank Hirth PLC; a UK/US tax advisory firm in London. I keep the science ticking over in the background and plan on returning to it from a career perspective at some point in the future.
Haram - Week at a glance
My week at a glance
The start of the week for me is late in the day since my first lecture is usually in the afternoon. This however, works out very well for me since it’s hard to quickly pick up my momentum after a weekend of meeting up and chilling out with friends. Therefore, Monday calls for a late breakfast with at least one of my flatmates in the kitchen that I share with seven other lovely girls. Then I walk to my lectures which are usually back to back three or four hours of different modules, so I get done early in the day. All lectures done, my friends and I go to the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) to do our week’s tutorial questions together or look over any doubts we might have left from last week. After a couple of hours we tend to walk down to the forum or one of the accommodation common rooms to play pool or table tennis.
Tuesday is usually my lab day, so I meet up with my designated partner and go over the experiment and the pre-lab questions before attending the lab session. These last three hours so I usually go back to my flat after to talk a nap before analysing the data and writing out the lab report.
Wednesdays are off-days for most of the students at Herts because this is the day most active student sessions are run. Therefore, Wednesday starts with me going to my favourite badminton session and usually ends with some progress towards my course work deadlines for the month.
Thursday and Fridays are usually just lecture and tutorial days with a couple of hours on each day spent in the LRC looking for resources to help with my course work and then playing pool/going to the forum to relax . At Herts, I have found that it is extremely easy to balance my university workload and my social life.
Haram - Things you should know
Things you need to know before studying Physics at Herts
Physics as an undergraduate subject, according to my many hours of Google searches, is quite a confusing choice for most people as it was for me. It’s not the traditional “safe” subject compared to degree that has a designated career path. While a lot of people made it seem like that might be a terrible thing, choosing to study physics at university has been the best decision I have made. I do admit that I was extremely nervous about the decision at first which encouraged me to talk to someone in CareerHub that referred me to the physics, astronomy and mathematics (PAM) career advisor. She showed me an extensive list of careers that I can pursue as a physics student at Herts. Physics undergraduate here includes modules involving maths, astrophysics and programming which train you to do any jobs from medical physics to jobs in banks.
Academically speaking the first year of the physics degree at Herts starts at the very fundamental with all the lecturers ready to explain and re-explain the basics. I never felt like I was falling behind although I do believe that taking physics at A-Level helped me a great deal and let me focus more properly on moving to a whole different country and fitting in.
Haram - Why I chose Herts
Why I chose Herts
As an international student here at the University of Hertfordshire the main thing that attracted me was the convenience of my accommodation being so close to my lectures. Not only that, but it was also the best of both world situation for me, since its only 20 minutes from Hatfield to king’s cross station so I was able to explore London as if I were living there. I am a Physics student here which meant with the right training I got to have access to the Bayfordbury observatory and being able to use those telescopes and be able to develop my own pictures of galaxies and whatnot has been a dream come true. I also get to do all sorts of practical lab work and apply everything I learn in lectures, just as a theory to in real-life situations, which makes the degree interesting and clear.
One of the other main things I noticed when I came here was the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) was huge and had all the recourses needed. There are several types of study rooms, whether you want to study with your mates or just by yourself, the LRC has a whole silent study floor dedicated to it.
Moving away from academics, the University offers extra-curricular activities for everyone. From regular weekly active student session to Big Wednesday forum parties there is something for everyone.
Meet Jordan Skilling whose Physics degree took him on an unexpected journey into the financial sector. Jordan is now a Commodities Trade Support Analyst for Morgan Stanley.Read more stories BSc (Hons) Physics
|Current role||Commodities Trade Support Analyst|
|Year of graduation||2014|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Physics|
Going to university gave Jordan the chance to study his favourite subject area and see where it took him. While he was interested in both Astrophysics and Physics, at the University of Hertfordshire he knew he would have access to one of the largest teaching observatories in the country, Bayfordbury Observatory. This was ‘a major plus’ when Jordan was making his university choices.
He decided to study Physics, but also developed a keen interest in Mathematics. He learnt to grapple with abstract ideas and make accurate and clear summaries of his thoughts. Jordan tells us how the logical thinking skills he developed at university helped him to ‘handle life in investment banking.' Furthermore, he liked the social side of student life. He was involved in societies and remembers ‘many funny days, laughing with housemates.'
After graduating, Jordan landed a job with Merrill Lynch in Chester. It involved supporting the sales and trading desks in Singapore, London and New York. Jordan recommends new graduates consider starting out in a company’s off-site location as it’s a ‘fantastic way of getting your foot in the door, giving you the opportunity to learn a wide range of processes’. This experience was beneficial when Jordan later moved to London to become a Commodities Trade Support Analyst for Morgan Stanley.
Meet Thomas Owen who discovered his passion for analytics while at university. He is currently a Sales and Capacity Planner at Ocado.Read more stories BSc (Hons) Physics
|Current job role||Sales and Capacity Planner|
|Year of graduation||2015|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Physics|
University life and experience
Thomas initially decided to come to the University of Hertfordshire based on our excellent Physics facilities, including Bayfordbury Observatory. While visiting the campus at an Open Day he was impressed with the amount of support available and our ranking in league tables for Physics evidenced in the expertise of our lecturers.
Throughout his time at the University, Thomas felt fully supported. He says, ‘There was never a point where I felt I had to go it alone and help was always on hand if things got tough. Lecturers took the time to meet with me personally if I had questions and the 24/7 LRC had everything I'd need for self-study and exam practice.’
After graduating, he has realised that the challenges he faced throughout his degree have fully prepared him for his working life and future career.
‘My studies helped me prepare for working in busy, dynamic environments by challenging me all the time. Whether it was working on a big project, my dissertation, or preparing for my exams – my experiences encouraged me to take challenges head on.’
While he worked hard throughout his time at university, he is pleased that it paid off. He explains that handing in his final year dissertation and being awarded a first made it all worthwhile.
Thomas initially did not think that he would be working in online grocery and retail, however, he has found the industry to be challenging, rewarding and fast-growing. He explains that he likes the variety of roles and ‘different areas of aspire to work in.’