A Shameless Advert for URSS
The URSS (Undergraduate Research Support Scheme) is a Warwick funded program where undergraduates who are keen to get research experience explore a topic of their choosing with an academic who supports them along this process. Along with this support a bursary of up to £1000 is offered to cover living costs during the time which the student will spend on the research.
I call my decision to take part in the URSS to be the single best decision I made at Warwick, which by natural extension could well mean the best decision in my life. For someone who doesn’t know much about it or what effects it’s had on me this could sound rather extreme. I too, once naive to the horrors of the jobsearch, would have been skeptical. However, I have found that the benefits I can directly attribute to this scheme are numerous both in terms of personal development and in real-life skills and opportunities.
During my second year of university I found myself not knowing where I should go in the future. Of course I would have a nice degree from a good university, but all of this would be for nothing if I didn’t know what to do with it. This is where the URSS came in. A good friend of mine was interested in the scheme and had already found himself a topic and supervisor. When he described them both to me I was hooked: mathematical optimisation with an environmental aspect? Truly, mathematics for good, something I’d always wanted to do. The URSS lets students work together so while initially the plan was to do so, my friend eventually found another project that he preferred to work on and I took it upon myself to do the best I could on the original.
I met many times with my supervisor, Dr Nursen Aydin from WBS’ operational research department, and we discussed exactly what I would be doing. She provided me with help in writing the research proposal and gave me some idea of the preliminary reading to do and how I should approach the task at hand.
Upon completion of the research I produced a poster in LaTeX (which I am quite proud of if I do say so myself) and also had a more technical report which went into more detail. This process of documentation served me very well in interviews for my next internship where I could clearly discuss my choices and the reasoning behind them.
Another benefit from this scheme is that I now know much better what I would like to do in the future, and if research is a pathway for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an undergraduate researcher: problem solving and coming up with new ideas have always been things I loved to do so this was really just formalising a hobby. With that said I would highly recommend the experience for anyone else who is looking to see if a certain subject or research in general is the right thing for them.