Sociology student Alice undertook work experience with Birmingham Public Health this summer. She describes a typical day:
An assortment of tie patterns, different leathered brief cases and the necessary Costa coffee cup reminds you every morning that a 9am lecture is not an early start. I get into the office for 8.30 am Monday-Friday to find meetings are already being held, toast has already been consumed and the working day has already begun.
A typical day as an Engagement Support Officer at Birmingham Public Health began with shifting through your emails. The principle task of the placement was to organise and attend focus groups to gather opinions on the current school nursing system. On average, I would contact 15 organisations a day enquiring the possibility of hosting a focus group, and much to my disappointment, my morning check of emails would consist of a few replies from the previous day (if I’m lucky), weekly menu update and an invitation to a presentation.
Nevertheless, contacting local children’s centres, Boy Scout groups and the Library of Birmingham did not dominate a typical day. Birmingham Public Health employees operate on a ‘matrix’ system – team members do not focus on one task at a time, they are responsible for a range of projects. My time at Birmingham Public Health reflected this system.
Post the 12pm obligatory lunch time (because it was always too early to have breakfast prior to catching my morning train)…my ‘matrixing’ would begin. All 20 afternoons I spent at Birmingham Public Health were different.
In quest of public views on school nursing, one afternoon was spent at a local ‘play in the park’ session, interacting with parents to get the questionnaires completed. Another afternoon was spent at Bourneville College sitting on a ‘Dragons Den’ panel for National Citizen Service programme, listening to teenagers pitch their local campaign ideas, query their budget and deliberating constructive feedback. Additionally, I spent an afternoon observing the recording of a childhood obesity awareness programme aired on Noor TV – witnessing the transformation of green screen to a modern TV studio, editing voice levels and adjusting camera positioning.Finally, I will never, ever consider myself a football fan, but the most memorable afternoon was spent gazing onto the Aston Villa football pitch whilst sitting in a meeting hosted in one of the boxes above the grounds. (The meeting revolved around the school child programme hosted by Villa.)
4.30 pm arrives – home time. Computer is logged off, paper is organised and desk is left neatly ready for the next day at Birmingham Public Health. My working day may finish at 4.30pm, but the impact my work has had, and is having on Birmingham Public Health continues – the most rewarding aspect of my 4 weeks at Birmingham Public Health.