Lucy Bell, NHLI Operations Trainee

Lucy & EleanorHow did you find out about the Operations Trainee role?

I found the advert on Having never worked in universities before I was looking for something which would give me broad experience so this was perfect as it would give me the opportunity to work in a number of different areas. 

What kind of work have you done at NHLI?

I started working in postgraduate admissions so was dealing with prospective PhD students and got to know the admissions and registration process. I was then given the opportunity to cover a maternity leave as a section administrator, so I have been looking after the funding, finance and HR for a number of our academics. This has given me experience of the work that needs to be done to apply for a grant and the administration of grant funds. Alongside this I’ve also done lots of training courses, I’ve helped with the setup of the department Twitter account and have been part of the recruitment process for the next trainee scheme.

What have been the highlights so far?

The team have been really welcoming and friendly, and have been really helpful with any questions I have as I get to know the job. I reviewed our internal admissions process in my role in education, and it’s been great to see that working. I did the costing for quite a big grant when I started in section administration which was great for me to learn the process, as well as work with the professor to make sure that the application was as accurate as possible.

Would you recommend applying for future openings?

This is a great role for someone interested in working in higher education who wants to get experience in a few roles before deciding what path to go down. NHLI management have been really supportive in enabling me to get involved with anything that I’ve been interested in, and I’ve benefitted from being able to work in areas that I haven’t done previously.

What have been the main benefits?

I came from a retail background so I had very little knowledge of how a university works, other than from my experience of being a student myself. Doing work in a number of areas has given me exposure to lots of different roles, and I’ve been able to develop skills which I haven’t used in my previous jobs. I can edit the website, I helped design our social media strategy and I have become competent in managing grants and using various systems. Working in a completely new environment has meant I’ve had to use my initiative to find the answers to my questions, and I’ve enjoyed the variety and challenge of the role.

Dr Maija Maskuniitty, Career Development Coordinator

MaijaI started at NHLI in February 2014 as a Section Administrator for the Airway Disease section, after working as a Project Manager at the Institute of Chemical Biology where I had also previously done my PhD. In September 2014 I was appointed as the NHLI Career Development Coordinator and have been in that post since then. I am responsible for the Institute’s career development processes – including academic recruitment and academic probation – and I also act as the NHLI Athena SWAN Administrative Lead.

When I started at NHLI I was worried that my limited experience of working in university administration would be a disadvantage and that making the transition from research to an administration and management role would be difficult. However, this worry proved to be unfounded; on the contrary, I feel that my research background has helped me enormously when working with academics and researchers.

One process that I have found particularly useful is the annual Personal Review and Development Plan (PRDP) meeting with my manager. Even though we have regular meetings and periodically talk about my career development over the year, the PRDP meeting can really help review and summarise achievements and goals and re-focus on things that are important.

I have also found the training courses organised by the College’s Learning and Development Centre really useful and am currently in the process of completing the Imperial Leadership and Management Development Programme (ILMDP). The courses within the programme include, but are not limited to, management, recruitment and equality and diversity. These training courses can be really helpful in giving you new perspective in relation to your job and they also give you an opportunity to discuss any issues you might have with people from other departments in the College.

The supportive environment in the central NHLI admin team has also been instrumental for my career development. You should never underestimate the career advice and pastoral support you can receive from your colleagues and managers!