Rebbekah Menday – Uni of Sheffield

Where did you go and what did you do?

I stayed at the University of Sheffield, however, I did not do any research. Instead I undertook a purely teaching placement with Dr Liz Alvey, deputy director of education at the School of Bioscience. This placement was an amazing opportunity to develop my teaching skills. I fostered a foundational year tutor group providing them with pastoral support and marking their end of semester project. I led large practical classes where I had to engage with the technical staff and GTAs to make sure the practical sessions ran smoothly. I delivered pathogenicity lectures to foundation year students where I developed a pandemic game to bring interactivity to the lecture theatre. I taught mathematics to level 1 bioscientists which involved a blended teaching approach of online resources and a face-to-face small-scale workshop. Lastly, I engaged in my own pedagogical research on digital accessibility in practical classes and have been invited to give a flash talk at the Microbiology society annual conference this year to discuss the results I found.

What made you want to do that particular placement?

I have always loved teaching but I felt that I couldn’t make time for it during my PhD. This was the perfect opportunity to get more teaching experience and gain my FHEA qualification. Also, selfishly I wanted to stay in Sheffield and not have the pressure, competition and intensity that some PIPs placements have. 

How did you go about finding and planning your PIPS?

I contacted Liz Alvey by email to see if this placement was feasible. She was very enthusiastic and after a couple of planning meetings the PIPs was organised.

What have you gained from doing your PIPS?

I have found my passion for teaching again and I feel my PIPs has cemented more firmly the career path I want to take. It also gave me a much needed break from my PhD where I could find that work-life balance more effectively and decrease my stress levels.

How would you sum up your PIPS experience?

It was a wonderful adventure into a completely different career path which is still aligned with enriched continuous learning. 

What advice would you give to other PGRs about PIPS?

Don’t stress too much about trying to find the perfect placement. Think about what you enjoy doing whether it be something in your PhD or a hobby and see if there is a company or a person willing to host you in that area.