University is a great time for you got involved with all kinds of crazy opportunities to enhance your CV and to help you get your dream job later on. Last year, I was offered the chance to go to NASA Kennedy Space Centre in Florida to set up some biomedical payload experiments that I had been working on in the lab at King’s. I was incredibly excited but one of my immediate thoughts was how I was going to fund this trip. Usually, I like to plan ahead for big trips and slowly start saving for them, however on this occasion I only had 3-weeks’ notice!
As someone who has always been very careful with my money, I did not want to throw my budget plan off and put myself in the position of having money troubles on returning from the trip. On the other hand, I did not want to miss out on this great opportunity, that may not come around again. I needed a plan!
A friend told me about some organizations and companies that offer bursaries to help students with space-related research. As soon as I could I started emailing some of them. However, due to the short notice they were not able to help me. After doing more research, I decided I needed to look more locally and see if King’s could help me. After all, this would be an opportunity to develop my skillset and I had worked in the labs at King’s! That is when I found out about the Student Opportunities Fund. This is a scheme set up by King’s to help students fund opportunities related to career development. The money you apply for can be used towards conferences and research experiences. The process was also simple. It involved filling in an application form detailing the opportunity and then got assessed by a panel at King’s.
Although it did not cover the entire cost, it covered a significant proportion and made the trip more affordable and accessible to me. The only drawback was that I had to pay for the trip and then claim reimbursement (but this is the case for most award schemes.) Whilst this involved playing around with my budget plan, using some money that I had saved up, and being more frugal until I got that money back, I knew in the long term my budget plan would be back on track.
I am very grateful that funds like this exist, however, I feel that many students do not know this and miss out on opportunities that would enhance their professional development because they do not have the money to do it. In an ideal world, you should plan big trips and save for them slowly, whether that is tweaking your budget for the next couple of months or looking for a job to help fund it. In some cases, opportunities may arise unexpectedly and whilst it may feel easier to spend now and worry later or miss out on opportunities altogether, there are other options. Especially if the opportunity is educational or will contribute to your professional development, there is support out there for students from various sources, which you should take time to explore. An even better approach is to slowly save money on the side and to try and expect the unexpected! Having some savings on the side is how I could initially pay for the trip. Whilst I did not intend to use those savings for this circumstance, I am very glad that I had some money set aside. Even after this amazing trip, I try to save when I can because who knows what crazy opportunities, I can be a part of in the future!
King’s Student Money Mentor
Part of Money & Housing Advice
Studying Medicine MBBS (UG)
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