Bio-Enterprise and Employability

This will be a slight diversion from my usually concise posts as it will be an overview of the entire Bio Enterprise Module with a statement encompassing my thoughts on the content and how it’s helped me focus my career plans.

What is Bio-enterprise?

“Bio-Enterprise” is really as simple as the name suggests. Bio- meaning biological or life sciences related; and Enterprise meaning a project, business, or company. This brings up a very interesting question which I asked myself upon starting the module-

“I’m doing a Zoology degree, about animals. Why do I need to learn about business?”

Well it may seem a bit odd from the outside but when I began taking part in the activities I could see just how the bio element was intertwined. Although there was a good bit of the module which was based on business and designing, planning, and pitching it; the main point was that second bit of the name, Employability. As I learned very quickly, we were learning more about how to make ourselves employable. This is such a vital element of any university degree; it’s all well and good getting that piece of paper with your name and some letters on, but where do you go from there?

So how did this module help my employability?

A variety of tasks, assignments, and activities were used to develop certain skills which would be of great use when looking for employment. The module was split into 5 parts, each aimed at improving employability or inspiring career paths. They were:

Each of these activities provided with me with a specific opportunity to become more ‘job ready’. Skills such as CV writing and interview preparation are must haves in the world of job-seeking. The careers café offered a chance to hear about other graduates who are now in employment and how they got there; whereas the Dragon’s Den and the business plan were more focused on providing experience of self starting businesses and going into a more general ‘business’ position.

I found most of these to be highly valuable in pushing me to become more job ready, specifically the CV writing talk and the assessment centre. Being someone with little job experience, I really valued the opportunity to practise a job interview and experience the sorts of questions asked, as well as being able to get feedback on my answers. Also, getting the advice on how to correctly write and format my CV was fantastic as there were several points outlined that I was unaware of. I think the careers café was less helpful as there wasn’t really much advice that could really be transferred and applied to my situation. Mostly the guests spoke of experience, and then finding people to make connections with.

This business stuff is all well and good, but where does the biology come into it?

I’m glad you asked. This blog you’re reading is part of that, or at least the section labelled “seminars“. We were asked to attend at least 5 seminars given by scientists working in their respective fields on the latest scientific research. By listening to their talks we were informed of the real science that is happening as we speak. It provides a glimpse into the fields that we ourselves may aim to enter, showing us what sort of work is being done and highlighting the work that will then need to be done. With a wide range of topics being discussed in all fields of biology, there was no shortage of interesting areas of research in which to enter in to.

Microbiology, agriculture, animal behaviour, anthropology, and climatology were all topics discussed by scientists and academics. All of the talks were aimed at informing us of new science as well as to inspire us to continue in research and academia. For most of the topics there was little that I found interesting as they focused on areas of science that I have no experience and no interest. Carbon ecology (as was the main focus of the first talk given) and agriculture (in the case of the seminar on “Growing Ones way out of Poverty“) are two areas of biology that did not appeal to me and therefore did not really achieve their goal of inspiring me to continue into research.

There were talks which I found to be very interesting though, for example, the one given by Russel Hill on Fear Landscapes was an ideal subject for me to hear about due to my specialisation in animal behaviour. Another talk which I found to be very appropriate for me was the Ruminant Microbiome one, which discussed the uses of the gut bacteria in certain industries. This was a particularly interesting session due to the similarities between Dr Huws’ talk and my own dissertation which is on mice (and other vertebrate) digestion. Similarly the seminar on Bacteriophages was also entertaining and engaging for the same reasons.

Final Thoughts?

Generally speaking, this module was a very good choice for this year. Firstly, the ability to spread a module over the two semesters helped to relieve the pressure of studying with lots of assignments due all in a short period of time, especially with my 3rd year project requiring a great deal of my attention.

Secondly, I think the overall skills that I have gained from this course were undoubtably the most transferable and useful in the “real world”. The specific, technical subject knowledge about dormancy cycles of small vertebrates, and a working knowledge of statistical power in relation to good scientific design, is all highly valuable information for certain jobs and of course the examinations that go with the modules involved. However, it is the skills I have developed in this module including- teamwork, problem solving, time management, CV writing, and interview preparation that will give me the edge over students studying similar courses at other universities.

Overall I feel this has been one of the most useful, non-subject specific modules, I have taken and the employment-based knowledge I have gained will be invaluable to me in my future life as I make the jump from university to the workplace.


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