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Abraham with many of members of the WIMM Administration Team. Back row (L-R): Tim Quantick, Abraham Sondhi, Gillian Marriage, Tom White and Bryony Graham. Front row (L-R): Ivor Holloway, Stella Keeble, Nat Marten and Mary Jullien.

The latest post in our series of blogs written by students who undertake work experience placements here at the WIMM is a little different. Whilst most students who come here work in a lab, this week’s blog is by a GCSE student at Cherwell School, Abraham Sondhi, who last month undertook a week’s work experience placement in the Administration Office. Read on to find out just how much Abraham learnt during the five days he spent with the team, and how much he valued the experience.

My work experience placement was in the Administration Office at the WIMM from 2nd – 7th October and it was AMAZING!!!

At first I was nervous, as anyone would be at their first time ever working in their life: a new place; new people; new opportunities. When I arrived on the first day of my placement, it was my first time going into a real office. In movies, offices always seem to have an angry mean boss and bored workers in need of sleep.

However, after working with the WIMM Administration team, I realised that an office is actually totally different – everyone is so nice and kind, and treats every person with so much respect. I am so grateful have had the opportunity to work with such incredible people.

On my first day in the office I could not believe that I did so much – I was expecting just to be told to sit back and observe. I felt like I was actually involved right from the beginning.

First, I went to a safety talk with Kathryn Robson and I learnt about fire safety and how to behave in a workplace and also about security – skills which would not only help me in the workplace but in later life as well.

Afterwards I went to count the daily cash intake in the WIMM canteen with Gill and Tom. I felt that my experience at the WIMM helped me improved my numerical skills, and I am now much better than I was before. It was also interesting to see how the University’s money gets distributed between the different faculties and how to send and ship money to the bank.

After that I was assigned by Nat to make a poster for the WIMM Prize PhD Studentships 2017. I was really proud of my work for this because it looks really aesthetically pleasing, and I was able to use my creative side.

Then I started another project for Bryony, concerning people who go out and teach other people about the work of the WIMM, about science in general and giving educational presentations to schools and at science festivals. It is awesome that the WIMM is going out into the public and telling them what they are doing, in terms of ground-breaking research and new discoveries. For this project I had to input the public engagement work the scientists at the WIMM have done into a database to keep a record of how scientists at the Institute work with the public.

On the second day I finished the database project for Bryony and then I did some work for Mary with travel expenses and how the University pays for these. I had to check the proof of each claim and what each person needed paying. These tasks helped me become more alert to checking things thoroughly, and giving proof to each statement or point.

On the third day I was asked to help with some filing, and even though filing has dull connotations associated with it, I actually enjoyed sorting the files and putting them in order. Later I helped look through invoices for the WIMM stores, and I also did the INTRASTAT reports which are reports for HMRC to have to give proof of what the University buys and what they import. I learnt how everything being imported into the UK has a commodity code.

Afterwards I had another project with Nat to scan in and produce electronic copies of ‘Material Transfer Agreement’ documents to be kept in a database. It was very intriguing to learn about the terms and conditions that the University puts in place when sending samples out to other places in order to protect our products and discoveries.

On my fourth day I learnt how to order goods from the university and how to purchase products either from a catalogue of recommended items, or to order something specifically from another supplier. Additionally I also inputted a batch of invoices myself to pay the supplier. It was very exciting and again I also helped with lots of filing and cashing up.

On my fifth and final day, I learnt how to process a delivery note. This is the way that we tell the suppliers whether or not the University has received a product. EventuaIly I ended up doing some myself and I really got the hang of it. One of the best things I did was to help cash up the vending machine – I had always wondered where all the coins went!

I brought in a cake for everyone to have because I loved the time I spent in the Admin office. From the bottom of my heart I genuinely say a BIG thank you to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who helped me during my week at the WIMM. I was inexperienced and I did not know what to do yet everyone was so patient and helpful. Although some of my friends are saying about their work experience placement: “I am glad to get out of that place….It was rubbish!!” I would say the complete opposite and I had a brilliant week working in such a great environment. I would not trade it for any other placement. Thank you, I can’t thank you enough!