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    I am currently on my gap year and seeing all my friends start uni makes me regret this decision! Does anyone have any suggestions for volunteering or work experience in the sciences (I'm doing chemistry at university) and just want some friendly advice about how not to regret this year!
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    If you're in London, Birmingham or Manchester, try CityYear. I am currently volunteering there, it's a full-time voluntary position and you get paid a 100 pounds a week + travel expenses. Basically you're assigned to a primary/secondary school and you work there as a student mentor/teaching assist.. Pretty rewarding, emotionally, but also time consuming.
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    thank you i hope it's not too late to apply, sounds interesting!
    What will you be studying at university next year?
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    You could also try your local Wildlife Trust or park rangers. You will do site management and for the Wildlife Trust you can volunteer in the education centres, helping children learn about the environment. It's very rewarding, I know it's technically more biology but it's still a lot of fun. Lots of pond-dipping and minibeast hunts! The Wildlife Trusts, WWT, RSPB, park rangers are always looking for volunteers so you won't have to worry about space! Also you will get lots of cups of tea and biscuits!

    I'd highly recommend getting a First Aid Certificate, St. John's Ambulance offer training weekends. Whilst they're not cheap you will need one. It makes you more attractive as a potential employee (not everyone has one) and is actually a job requirement in some cases. I found my training to be very enjoyable!

    Have you considered contacting a pharmacy or lab asking if you could shadow them?
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    Hi,

    Thank you! I love the outdoors, hadn't considered those places before. That sounds amazing.
    Yeah I was planning on first aid training and maybe even a life guard course because they sounds helpful.
    I've asked about lab work but they seem to mainly offer it for undergraduates or school students (so I've been rejected a lot) I guess all that will have to wait for after my gap year... can't wait for it to be over! :/
    What are you doing on your gap year/at university
    THANK YOU!
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    (Original post by AishaAl)
    Hi,

    Thank you! I love the outdoors, hadn't considered those places before. That sounds amazing.
    Yeah I was planning on first aid training and maybe even a life guard course because they sounds helpful.
    I've asked about lab work but they seem to mainly offer it for undergraduates or school students (so I've been rejected a lot) I guess all that will have to wait for after my gap year... can't wait for it to be over! :/
    What are you doing on your gap year/at university
    THANK YOU!
    No problem! Yup it's pretty good fun! As it's Autumn if you decide to do park rangers, etc you'll be doing a lot of cutting back hedges, clearing/maintaining grasslands (I remember helping with some grassland maintainance - you have to cut it back every year and we burnt it in a huge bonfire), etc. Also you could get involved in wildlife surveys. Again, it's a lot of fun and as you're a volunteer you don't have to show up to every work party, etc. If you're near an AONB then there will be plenty of work parties and if you're near London you can volunteer with the Royal Park Rangers. Also the National Trust and English Heritage also offer volunteer placements.

    Believe me, you'll be grateful for the break. You could also get loads of background reading done if you wanted to. And if you haven't, join the Royal Chemistry Society. They may give you a discount because of your age but you'll definitly get a student discount next year.

    You may have already guessed but I'm studying Ecology and Wildlife Conservation! I've completed 2 years and am currently on my placement year! I'm doing internships with whale-watching companies as I want to be a wildlife/whale-watch guide. I've just spent my summer in Scotland and British Columbia with whale-watching companies. I was on the Isle of Mull in Scotland and in BC I'm in Victoria and was also on the island off Telegraph Cove, doing wildlife guiding at a whale-watch camp.
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    Thank you for the advice, it's nice to hear from someone who's out the other side, currently the whole year is very intimidating and I'm a bit bored to be honest.
    That sounds so cool! I've never seen a whale in real life, that must be a magnificent experience.
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    (Original post by AishaAl)
    Thank you for the advice, it's nice to hear from someone who's out the other side, currently the whole year is very intimidating and I'm a bit bored to be honest.
    That sounds so cool! I've never seen a whale in real life, that must be a magnificent experience.
    Well you're in a better spot than I was, I ended up taking a gap year to resit my A2's. I don't think I could've gone straight into third year, uni's draining so this placement year is a way for my brain to rest, to do some reading (if you like reading fiction - read now as you won't have much of a chance at uni!), do some background reading and catch up on some TV shows. So by taking a gap year you'll be much more ready, especially as you'll be gaining work experience and not studying, so you'll be really refreshed.

    Believe me, a whale is amazing - they're huge and move so fast! I did a placement last year in Scotland because I wanted to see a whale and never had before. I did not realise wildlife guiding was a possible career until I did this placement. Just over a year later I've seen a lot of cetaceans (including a blue whale! I am not ashamed to say I nearly cried on seeing it!). I do prefer dolphins as they're more playful around boats but I can never tire of whales.

    If you're interested it was Sea Life Surveys in Scotland. It's 2 weeks, you go out on their trips every day. You don't need any prior experience, so if you want to see a whale (and possibly basking sharks if you go at the right time of the season!) you could always contact them for a 2-week summer placement holiday (I am suspicious they are one of the few companies that will let people volunteer with them who aren't students/aren't studying biology. They had a high school boy with them this year who was doing work experience with them as he was interested in boats.). Whale-watching trips are so expensive this is an excellent way to get around the cost and to ensure you see plenty of whales. We get mainly minke whales in Scotland, these are a shyer species though I have had minkes surface 20m from the stern and surface right in front of the bow! Also plenty of bottlenose and common dolphins as well as harbour porpoise. Seeing a whale is an indescribable experience and something I think everyone should experience.
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    (Original post by Crabb1ey)
    Well you're in a better spot than I was, I ended up taking a gap year to resit my A2's. I don't think I could've gone straight into third year, uni's draining so this placement year is a way for my brain to rest, to do some reading (if you like reading fiction - read now as you won't have much of a chance at uni!), do some background reading and catch up on some TV shows. So by taking a gap year you'll be much more ready, especially as you'll be gaining work experience and not studying, so you'll be really refreshed.

    Believe me, a whale is amazing - they're huge and move so fast! I did a placement last year in Scotland because I wanted to see a whale and never had before. I did not realise wildlife guiding was a possible career until I did this placement. Just over a year later I've seen a lot of cetaceans (including a blue whale! I am not ashamed to say I nearly cried on seeing it!). I do prefer dolphins as they're more playful around boats but I can never tire of whales.

    If you're interested it was Sea Life Surveys in Scotland. It's 2 weeks, you go out on their trips every day. You don't need any prior experience, so if you want to see a whale (and possibly basking sharks if you go at the right time of the season!) you could always contact them for a 2-week summer placement holiday (I am suspicious they are one of the few companies that will let people volunteer with them who aren't students/aren't studying biology. They had a high school boy with them this year who was doing work experience with them as he was interested in boats.). Whale-watching trips are so expensive this is an excellent way to get around the cost and to ensure you see plenty of whales. We get mainly minke whales in Scotland, these are a shyer species though I have had minkes surface 20m from the stern and surface right in front of the bow! Also plenty of bottlenose and common dolphins as well as harbour porpoise. Seeing a whale is an indescribable experience and something I think everyone should experience.
    I feel so ready to go to university already... I'm just bored and I miss learning (!) sorry for being so negative... right now it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel...
    WOW! Sounds like a David Attenborough documentary - I'm having issues finding the link to the Sea Life Surveys, do you have any contact details for them? That sounds incredible, they seem so majestic.
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    (Original post by AishaAl)
    I feel so ready to go to university already... I'm just bored and I miss learning (!) sorry for being so negative... right now it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel...
    WOW! Sounds like a David Attenborough documentary - I'm having issues finding the link to the Sea Life Surveys, do you have any contact details for them? That sounds incredible, they seem so majestic.
    It's fine, I understand how you feel. I know it's hard when you love learning (like me), but it can get tiring so a break's always good! Uni work can get intense. But don't worry, once you start doing volunteer work, etc you'll get through! Before you go to uni buy some tea-tree oil, it saved me from developing Freshers' Flu. I was getting a sore throat but I gargled with a few drops of that and water and it was gone!

    It is! In Scotland we had a particuarly amazing day - it was sort of rough seas but not too rough, we had hundreds of manx shearwaters flying about, about 30 gannets diving, then we had 3 minke whales surfacing all around us, sometimes very close to the boat and 3 porpoises! It was spectacular! Gannets are incredible birds - brilliant white with a yellow head and black wingtips, they have a 2m windspan and on seeing fish they fly up to 30m and then go into a free-fall, entering the water at 63mph/100kmph sending a plume of water up 1m in the air! (I've included 3 photos - 2 from that day and another of a raft/hurry of shearwaters) SLS is based in Tobermory, which is a lovely seaside village and Mull is beautiful. There are lots of walks avaliable and if you've never been to the Scottish Highlands and Islands before I can guarantee you you'll fall in love!
    Sorry about that, it seems like their site is currently undergoing maintanance.
    Here's the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sealifesurveys/?fref=ts
    Here's the facebook page of a long-term volunteer of SLS who goes out with them daily and posts photos/videos of each trip every day. https://www.facebook.com/Andy-on-Mul...?hc_ref=SEARCH

    Are you interested in the sea regarding its chemistry/toxins e.g. PCB's? It's just that Andy Tait collects plankton samples every trip and looks at them during the trip under a microscope. You can then see if any have plastic in them. I'm just thinking you could write about this on your cover letter as you'll be doing Chemistry. And talk about beng interested in developing skills in education of the public, that's useful no matter your career path.
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    Thank you for the advice, I will definitely invest in some (I already have a shopping list because I'm so excited for next year!)
    Those photos look amazing! Those are a lot of species I've never heard of, I want to go! I've just sent them an email, so hopefully they will reply soon. Is Andy Tait the facebook link you sent me or is it another Andy? I've never considered marine chemistry before or anything of that sort, so it will be interesting to experience it.

    Thank you so much for your advice and support, I really appreciate it - it's definitely giving me hope that this year won't be a complete waste of time!
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    (Original post by AishaAl)
    Thank you for the advice, I will definitely invest in some (I already have a shopping list because I'm so excited for next year!)
    Those photos look amazing! Those are a lot of species I've never heard of, I want to go! I've just sent them an email, so hopefully they will reply soon. Is Andy Tait the facebook link you sent me or is it another Andy? I've never considered marine chemistry before or anything of that sort, so it will be interesting to experience it.

    Thank you so much for your advice and support, I really appreciate it - it's definitely giving me hope that this year won't be a complete waste of time!
    By the way Sainsburys sells a 1kg bag of spaghetti for £1.20! And if you are willing, get some silver plasters - cuts heal a lot faster.

    Thanks! You should see gannets, though I can't guarentee they'll be diving. You will see shearwaters as you're near their breeding colony. You will see razorbills, common guillimots, great skua and puffins. (You can actually get a boat from Mull to Lunga, which is an island you're allowed to land on and you can get within a foot of a puffin there! I've attached a photo of a puffin from Lunga - taken with wide-angle lens that puffin was 1-2 feet from me right by the path!) The one species you will not see is an otter - I've been to Scotland 8 times now, I've seen an otter once. You will see white-tailed sea eagles as there is a resident pair that nests near Tobermory.

    SLS can be hit and miss with responses as sometimes it's fast and once they forgot to reply to my email, so if in a couple of weeks you haven't heard anything maybe send them another email! They will be very busy this time of year - they're still running trips but will be wrapping up soon. So December/January is when things are quieter. January is when they start advertising for placements as between now and January they're sorting out next year.

    Yes Andy Tait is the guy who owns that facebook page. He's also known as 'Professor Plankton' and has been identifying plankton for a number if years.

    Yeah it should be interesting as many chemicals used in agriculture and in shipping end up in streams and the sea, affecting all marine life as well as us. PCB and DDT are two very famous examples (Artificial fertilisers are even one of the reasons jellyfish numbers are increasing!). I'm sure Andy'd be thrilled if someone was also interested in looking at/studying his plankton!

    A lot of volunteering with SLS is mainly spotting wildlife and preparing drinks for guests, so it isn't too demanding.

    No problem! Glad to be of help!
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    sorry for the late reply! It's actually on my 'bucket list' to see a puffin in real life (not sure why, just ever since a child i've wanted to see one )
    I'll definitely pester them in December to see if I can volunteer, it sounds amazing, so far they haven't replied. I'll facebook Andy too because that sounds very interesting, I really need to occupy myself. Right now a lot of TV is being watched until I start a job later in November. Just trying to fill my time by whatever means!
    Good luck with everything, thank you for keeping me somewhat sane!
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    (Original post by AishaAl)
    sorry for the late reply! It's actually on my 'bucket list' to see a puffin in real life (not sure why, just ever since a child i've wanted to see one )
    I'll definitely pester them in December to see if I can volunteer, it sounds amazing, so far they haven't replied. I'll facebook Andy too because that sounds very interesting, I really need to occupy myself. Right now a lot of TV is being watched until I start a job later in November. Just trying to fill my time by whatever means!
    Good luck with everything, thank you for keeping me somewhat sane!
    No problem! I also wanted to see a puffin ever since I was small. I think it's because their photos are everywhere and they're one of the few interesting species we have. (we have lots of fascinating species, but very few iconic species) If you think about it - the 2 birds you see photographs of, etc eveywhere here are kingfishers and puffins, and so everyone gets obsessed with them. I actually didn't see a puffin up-close and get a good view of one until this year at age 21. I visited the Farnes Islands age 10 and the puffins had left the week beforehand! Then I didn't really see puffins until a couple or so years ago and they were on a sea stac so the view wasn't great. Last year I actually got a decent view but Lunga was just incredible! Puffins are actually very small (for some reason most people think they're penguin-sized) and walk in such an adorable fashion. And when they sit they become a fat blob.

    Yup, send an email the moment their advert for placements goes up. Their website seems to be partly-working right now - scroll down and you should see a bunch of hyperlinked stuff, under 'Sea Life Surveys', you'll see 'Job Vacancies', click on that and that's where they advertise for guides and volunteers.

    If you get no response - trying facebooking them, they are more responsive.

    Regarding chemicals, they've even been affecting shell shape in some invertebrates (e.g. dog welks) and causing the feminisation of fish so there's a whole load for you explore!

    Thank you and I wish you the best of luck too! I hope your gap year turns out great and again, if you need any help at all, feel free to message me!
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    (Original post by Crabb1ey)
    No problem! I also wanted to see a puffin ever since I was small. I think it's because their photos are everywhere and they're one of the few interesting species we have. (we have lots of fascinating species, but very few iconic species) If you think about it - the 2 birds you see photographs of, etc eveywhere here are kingfishers and puffins, and so everyone gets obsessed with them. I actually didn't see a puffin up-close and get a good view of one until this year at age 21. I visited the Farnes Islands age 10 and the puffins had left the week beforehand! Then I didn't really see puffins until a couple or so years ago and they were on a sea stac so the view wasn't great. Last year I actually got a decent view but Lunga was just incredible! Puffins are actually very small (for some reason most people think they're penguin-sized) and walk in such an adorable fashion. And when they sit they become a fat blob.

    Yup, send an email the moment their advert for placements goes up. Their website seems to be partly-working right now - scroll down and you should see a bunch of hyperlinked stuff, under 'Sea Life Surveys', you'll see 'Job Vacancies', click on that and that's where they advertise for guides and volunteers.

    If you get no response - trying facebooking them, they are more responsive.

    Regarding chemicals, they've even been affecting shell shape in some invertebrates (e.g. dog welks) and causing the feminisation of fish so there's a whole load for you explore!

    Thank you and I wish you the best of luck too! I hope your gap year turns out great and again, if you need any help at all, feel free to message me!
    There is something quite majestic about puffins! they seem really surreal to me still, I really hope I get to see one!
    Thank you, I will check their website this whole thing seems so cool, I hope I get to go I will pester them a lot, especially in the new year.

    wow, didn't know fish could be feminised.

    Thank you so much, honestly this been of great help - especially emotionally to know that I'm not the only one who is feeling/felt this way.
    Have a wonderful day and I wish you all the best
 
 
 
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