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from England

2014/15

MSc Public Health

lauren-bishopThe Postgraduate Development Award (or PGDA) is a great way to both enhance your experience at BU and make steps to improve your employability when you finish studying. The Award provides opportunities to build skills in four key areas (listed below) and to record your activities and achievements in an online portfolio.

For me, there are two main things that are great about the PGDA.

The first is that it gives you a bit of extra motivation to be doing career-enhancing things we should all be striving to do anyway (who doesn’t want to be highly employable after completing a degree?!). Outside of uni, free CV, interview and skills workshops are hard to come by, so it makes sense to make the most of it when the opportunity is there. Not only that, but seeing as you get an Award at the end of it, you’ll have something concrete to show for all that hard work! Also, you’ll be able to continue to make use of and develop your online portfolio after completing the Award, which could be a good opportunity to showcase your skills and development for potential employers.

Secondly, the PGDA is brilliant on the social front! There are regular opportunities to meet, network and socialise with other PGDA students. As well as meeting fellow students at skills sessions, there are also events like international evenings (a chance to celebrate all the different nationalities represented at BU), film nights and pizza evenings (who can resist the temptation of free food?!).

When you register for the PGDA, the first step is to complete a Skills Audit. This helps you to identify areas where your strengths lie and those that need further development. Based on your Skills Audit, you can create a Personal Development Plan which includes activities in each of the key areas. There are loads of activities to choose from so you can pick ones that will contribute best to your own development. Each activity earns you points, and you need to accumulate a certain number of points to achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award.

Some of the PGDA activities include the following, many of which are provided through BU and some of which you’ll need to secure yourself:

Research Skills, Knowledge and Technique:
– Literature searching and academic writing workshops
– SPSS and Nvivo workshops
– Online research skills modules.

Career Management and Personal Effectiveness:
– CV workshops and interview practice
– Volunteering opportunities inside and outside of BU
– Psychometric tests on BU’s Career Hub.

Research Management:
– Abstract or poster presentation at BU’s Postgraduate Research Conference
– Undertake a research assistant post
– Workshop or conference attendance relevant to your subject.

Networking and Engagement:
– Take part in conversation clubs as part of learning a new language
– Organise a student social or cultural event
– Public speaking and blogging.

By Lauren Bishop

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