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Brilliant Club tutor/PhD student in Experimental Psychology : Inspire Me

By UCL Careers, on 27 May 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Lucia Weinber, Brilliant Club tutor and PhD student in Experimental Psychology, talks to us about how she got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the academic sector. MagisWeinberg

How did you get into your role?

I am a Brilliant Club tutor and a first year PhD student at the Experimental Psychology Department. I found out about the Brilliant Club via an email of the UCL Graduate School. The relevance and suitability of the Brilliant Club as a part-time position specially tailored for PhD students motivated me to learn more, which I did through their website. I sent my application and was invited to the assessment centre to do a mini-lesson. I have just finished my first placement working with KS4 students, an enriching and exhilarating experience.

What are the best things about working in your role?

My PhD revolves around understanding teenage brain development. However, I deal with this in a laboratory setting. Having first-hand experience with adolescents in a real life setting has positively informed my research questions and procedures. I aim to do research that has applications beyond theoretical inquiries, and I believe this experience has helped me to better orient my research.

Working with students is stimulating and very fun! These interactions can be incredibly rewarding. Also, going into schools can be a welcomed break and change of setting once in a while. The programme is specially designed for PhD students and provides a flexible schedule and much of the work can be done from home or from the lab (i.e. planning the tutorials or marking). The Brilliant club is a meaningful way of engaging with the public and spreading the word about your research.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

I had little experience as a teacher for young students before starting. Designing my course and materials, specially tailored for a 15 year old audience, was a big challenge. Delivering lessons and making sure students understood and followed along was sometimes tricky. Extra work on top of a time-consuming PhD is also a challenge, and you need to develop time managing skills. Fortunately, the Brilliant Club really supports and trains the tutors, and they are always willing to help.

What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

In academia, most of us will find ourselves in front of a classroom at some point or other. I think the PhD is a perfect time to start developing teaching skills and didactic strategies. Don’t underestimate the challenge of teaching. There is widespread belief that being a research student automatically gives you the ability to talk about your research or teach. Even if we have been students for very long, there is a lot to learn in order to become an effective teacher. It is a good idea to explore teaching assistant roles to work with undergraduate students. Structured programmes such as the Brilliant Club provide a very useful scaffold to go beyond university students and reach different audiences.

To talk to a Careers Consultant for further information on applying for a PhD, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

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