Making the most of the experience

  • 14 August 2023
  • 2 minutes

A walking tour in torrential rain as part of a summer spent at the University of Cambridge confirmed Victoria Drew’s intentions to apply for postgraduate study.

Victoria will next month begin the final year of her undergraduate History degree at the University of Exeter, having spent six weeks of her summer on the SHARE Summer Research Experience, with accommodation provided by Gonville & Caius College.

SHARE is co-sponsored at Cambridge by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) through its Doctoral Training Partnership and aims to provide paid opportunities for students who are undertaking undergraduate study around the UK to experience postgraduate studies.

The students completed their placements in July and August, providing them with real day-to-day experience of postgraduate research – plus the experience of living and socialising as a postgraduate student at Caius.

Caius postgraduates acted as mentors and arranged socials for the SHARE interns, with Victoria enjoying a memorable walking tour of Cambridge.

“It was torrential rain, but I thought ‘I’m only here for six weeks and I’m not going to have this experience again’,” Victoria says.

“Everyone’s so nice. If you let people know your interests, they want to talk to you about it. They know you’re on this programme for a reason. People want to enable things to happen.

“I came into this programme knowing what I would like to do for a course, but not knowing the realities of it and what it would be like living here, and how everything would actually work.

“This programme has helped to make it feel real. It’s been a really good opportunity to feel like a postgraduate.”

Victoria is keen on the MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, and was already considering Cambridge before embarking on the SHARE scheme.

She worked in the Department of Geography on a project about how endemic malaria was in Britain in the 17th to 19th centuries, translating handwriting from manuscripts in library archives into spreadsheets for data monitoring.

With these experiences, you only get out of them what you put in

She also attended weekly seminars where she was able to observe the nurturing academic relationships between PhD students and their supervisors and other senior academics.

Some of the background reading will also be relevant to Victoria’s final year dissertation, which is on malaria in West Indian plantations.

Victoria enjoyed exploring Ely, the small city north east of Cambridge, and the coffee shops and museums of Cambridge.

She is returning to Exeter to work at a pub, having enjoyed the opportunity for a paid internship.

“With these experiences, you only get out of them what you put in,” she says.