Ask the Graduate: Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Student Experience

RO Central Team - Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Posted 1 year ago



Day In The Life: Bo- Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Student Experience

Hi, my name is Bo, or Dr Bo, as my students like to call me. I am an academic. My official job title is Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Student Experience. I work at the University of Warwick, Department of Chemistry, BUT I am not a chemist! Most people do the confused head tilt at this point.

I studied Business at university, specialising in digital innovation, and I took A-levels in Business Studies, Economics, Psychology and Maths and got BAAD. I was an international student that was really scared of not getting into a University in the UK, so I thought more is better. In hindsight I should have dropped one of them, as it would have allowed me to focus on getting a better grade in Maths, which was more important than having a good grade in Business. I found I was making so many assumptions about Higher Education which were unhelpful and in many cases simply untrue. Although I really enjoyed my University experience, that A-level mistake costed me my first, second and even third choice. It all ended well and I managed to get into a really good University and finish with a 2:1. The knowledge I was gaining during my studies, although unclear at the time, was fundamental in helping me get the job I am in now. To get there, I worked as an events intern for a start-up, freelanced as a project manager in higher education, registered as a sole trader innovation consultant, just to name a few.

My job requires a lot of skills, but the most important ones are effective communication, ability to build working relationships, problem solve, have a fresh perspective. Aside from designing and teaching modules on entrepreneurship and design thinking, I am also in charge of ensuring students studying Chemistry have the best possible learning experience. This means working in close partnership with students to create opportunities for personal development, positive wellbeing, employability, and a sense of belonging in the academic community.

Every morning I catch a 7:08am train and walk 1,5 miles to work as my way of staying active and also being productive before my meetings and teaching start around 10am. My meetings are usually about new projects, ideas, and collaborating with colleagues. I also spend a few hours of my working day preparing for teaching, reading new material and research to make my teaching is exciting and relevant. I am usually so in the zone that I end up having my lunch either during meetings or after work, but I definitely make sure to have a break for a cuppa before and after I teach. It helps to focus before and reflect on how the session went after. As you can tell, being a teacher is also very much like being a student – you are constantly learning.

In the afternoon I usually work on data analysis, following up on emails, or working on projects. I finish work around 3:30/4pm after I have replied to all urgent and student emails. I know they will be counting on my help and prompt response. I like to listen to podcasts or music on my commute and I usually do a little bit of planning for the following day. I finish my day off by cooking, having dinner, and shamelessly binge watching something on Netflix. Finding time to really switch off is underrated.

I love my job because of my students. Being able to make impact on people’s careers and aspirations is extremely rewarding! I also really enjoy how applied my discipline is. It helps to find inspiration and ideas in anything, which means I get to be really creative and constantly evolve the material I teach in my modules. That sense of responsibility and constant need to change is also what’s challenging about the role. I would not change it for the world! Being a teacher and a lecturer is a role that is open to a lot of people, regardless of your background, as long as you are passionate and excited about sharing that passion with others, which might just change someone’s career trajectory and life.