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Aroushi Jimulia

University of Nottingham

Physics MSci
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The Big Picture 

Aroushi completed a placement at a small company called Laser Optical Engineering as part of the Physics with a year in industry integrated Masters programme at the University of Nottingham. The company is mainly made up of engineers: “So there was a bit of a gap but I found that almost that’s what they wanted, because my physics approach to problem solving was different.”

“Initially, I’d applied to a whole bunch of different places and got a whole bunch of rejections! I was sent this job description by Olga and I liked how specialized they were. The fact that it was near Nottingham was also important to me, so I would still get to be close to my uni friends. I was still registered as a student, doing a Spanish evening language class, stuff like that.”

In the first half of the placement Aroushi worked on a project with a client looking to develop sustainable fabrics for their products; “but what comes with that is just horrible quality. It just falls apart and to fix it, you sort of use lasers to weld fibres together and process the fabric in a way that it doesn’t fall apart anymore. But that involves a lot of experimentation to figure out which laser to use, what sort of parameters to use, how exactly to process it. There’s a lot of different variables that need experimenting with.” Aroushi enjoyed being able to apply the skills she’d learnt at uni to this real world problem and because it’s a small company she had a very active role with the client. “Essentially I was the only one doing the experiments, so that felt quite cool!”

Aroushi’s other main project was working to commission some specialist equipment the company had invested in “There are these little optical windows called diffractive optical elements. They are used to change the shape of laser beams. And then you can use these newly shaped laser beams for whichever purpose an industry wants. They’re just little pieces of glass or silicon, but are really quite difficult to make. I was working to get the equipment working, and do some more experiments and see whether we can improve the way we make the elements.”

Day to Day

“So a bit of a catch up in the morning with my supervisor just to make sure, you know, we’ve got objectives for the day or week. Replying to emails, setting up meetings. So I would do all of that in the morning, and then get on with experiments and take breaks to log what I’m doing and write up anything important. I was constantly getting feedback from my supervisor to make sure that I was going in the right direction. And when the client came in I would spend time with them.” 

Skills Learnt

Working with industry and clients is perhaps not as straightforward as Aroushi imagined “It’s not as simple as ‘this is your solution; now implement it’, there’s so much more going on in the background. Also, it’s quite different from in the university setting, because in University you almost know what to expect, because the experiments have been done a million times before, whereas this was something that I couldn’t really look up in any literature. There wasn’t much previous research, because we are doing this for the first time.” 

And in this industry setting Aroushi also got to work on core skills such as Python, “Even just having a bit of a background from uni, it didn’t take me long to learn different Python skills to use in the workplace.” And of course: “I learnt a good bit about lasers, for sure!” as well as learning the basics of CAD drawings and writing up findings.

“I did have to make a couple of presentations and I got a bunch of feedback from my boss, saying about communicating the findings to a client that doesn’t have the physics background, so that was a learning curve!”

How my placement has impacted my future

“I’ve learned a lot about what I like and don’t like and none of that could have happened if I didn’t actually work for a year. In terms of personal preference, the placement involved quite a bit of experimentation work for me. However, I liked how different the projects were from each other, which is part of working on a consultancy basis. I also really enjoyed the client facing elements of the role, I really did enjoy the working lifestyle for sure.”

“The work was quite independent, which I knew it was going to be at the start, and I was looking forward to, but I soon realised that I think I would actually work better with team mates. So that was something that I learned about myself. It was surprising, because when I study, I need to be completely alone, so I assumed it would be the same!  I guess when it comes to applying knowledge, people help!” 

“Personally, I thought the company was quite quiet and almost too small for me. Again, it taught me what I would want in the future, and to be able to do that before you actually graduate is so useful. Being from Mumbai, for me, I prefer bigger cities, I think I need a bit of over stimulation to actually feel alive!”

“I think I’ll have a lot more experience to talk about in job interviews for sure. Also, I feel like having a year of experience on my back, it’s almost like I have sort of started to learn what to expect out of a workplace after university, so I feel less intimidated by it. I’m almost excited to start applying and actually get a job. Because now I’ve had a little taste.”

The Final Word

“I think I started out in the job so nervous about not knowing what they’ve asked of me, whereas towards the end if they asked me to do something I didn’t know how to do it’s very easy to be open about it, and just be willing to learn. I think I used to look at job interviews as a way to impress future employers, whereas now I almost think of it a little bit more as just a conversation with someone, and finding a perfect match not only for them, but for you as well, like, it needs to work for you.”

Would Aroushi recommend a year in industry to other students? “Oh, yeah. like, there’s no question about it! I have zero regrets. It gives you such a good idea of what you want to do or not want to do in the future. It gives you a good idea of how to tailor your degree following the placement to meet your future needs and interests. And honestly, it’s just a good way to have a break from university and earn some money on the side.”

“Everyone should do a year in industry, especially in physics when we don’t have a clear idea of where your degree can take you. It’s such a good opportunity to explore that. If you enjoy it, that’s amazing, and you can always come back once you graduate, and if you don’t enjoy it, it’s good experience, and you’re done for the year.” 

“I love how many options I have after I graduate. I know that there’s so much else out there for me to do, and so many industries to get into, and especially after doing year in industry, I can’t wait to start exploring and just get started and actually figure out what my niche is.”

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