Virtual work experience week engages pupils remotely

Over 40 pupils from across Scotland recently came together online to attend a virtual work experience week at the University of Dundee. 

Each year the School of Life Sciences hosts S5-6 students from local schools to give pupils the opportunity to investigate potential career opportunities before moving into further education. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Life Science Work Experience Week was brought online for the first time and included the School of Medicine, introducing pupils from across the country to the world of science research and study at the University. 

The programme was redesigned to give pupils the same experiences as a traditional work experience week, albeit virtual. Pupils explored research work within the Schools of Life Sciences and Medicine through virtual lab tours, scientific experiments and data analysis, live workshops, career stories and more. Talks by scientists from both Schools introduced pupils to the huge variety of research taking place in Dundee and gave insight into different career opportunities within the world of science. 

Erin Hardee, Schools Outreach Organiser at the University’s School of Life Sciences, said, “Many pupils are unfamiliar with the wide range of careers involved in life sciences research and think that studying science is only worthwhile if you want to be a doctor. Life science is a huge field of study and we hope this week will allow pupils to see that. 

“Virtual tours of labs and engaging presentations, online workshops, bioinformatics activities and interactive group sessions with researchers will give students a well-rounded idea of the career opportunities open to them. Our overall goal is that they leave with a renewed interest in science. Running online has allowed us to reach more pupils and expand our range. We have pupils from all over Scotland signed up, which will hopefully help Dundee’s reputation grow.” 

Dr. Chris Henstridge from the School of Medicine added, “We have a rich and diverse research environment at the School of Medicine, with a vast array of expertise covering all aspects of human health and disease. Some of our researchers will discuss their work and why they love being a scientist, or what inspired them to become one. Our diverse range of research staff will give students the chance to find out what it’s really like to work in a medical research laboratory. This is a great opportunity to showcase the exciting opportunities of a career in medicine and medical research and we look forward to welcoming the pupils to the School.” 

The Life Science Work Experience week has been running since October 2017. Usually about 20 pupils take part, but this year over 40 signed up to the online portal. For local pupils who did not have access to a laptop or computer, Dundee City Council provided support. 

Take a look at some highlights from the Work Experience Week here: