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NCOB Jan 2004 – Sept 2005 October 1, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Personal.
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The other big change that has happened is that I have quit my job. As of last week I  no longer work for the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (though admittedly my last day was the 16th September and I have technically been on the last of my leave since!).

As is tradition, the Nuffield Foundation threw me a lovely tea party on the 15th, complete with speeches from the Foundation’s Director, and my line-manager. On my last day Bioethics, and between the frantic finishing of handover notes, we went out for lunch at our usual venue, The Architectual Association canteen and stopped for tea and cake at 5pm, as is tradition. Several people then joined me at the pub in the evening. I was rather overwhelmed by all this and particularly the parting gifts which they bestowed upon me. For the last six months they’ve been asking what I would like and I just kept saying ‘book vouchers’ because I know I’m going to need the damn things at Uni. I was therefore surprised to find no vouchers at all in the various packages. The Foundation gave me a wad a of cash, which was great. I put a big rubber band around it and pretended I was a gangster from the East-end. It is enough, coincidentally, to cover my fees for Japanese classes at Imperial, which is wonderful. Yet, it was my colleagues in Bioethics who surprised me most. Rather than just an envelope, I received two packages containing some Japanese Green Tea (for I drink it every morning) and a cup to go with it, a book of Guardian quick crosswords (for Carol and I tried to do one every morning) and £45 of Odeon cinema vouchers (for they know I am a film-freak). Certainly, I’ve given my fair-share of late nights to the place, but it was all far more than I deserved.

NCOB will always hold a special place in my heart for it was my first ‘real’ job: the first I’ve really been interested in, the first with real responsibility and the first I’ve stuck out for more than a year (though not quite two)! I have no doubt that if I hadn’t stumbled upon this line of work, I would not have known that this side of science existed, that other types of science work existed. I wouldn’t know quite so firmly that Science Communication was my course in life and there is no doubt that, without the interest and experience, I wouldn’t have gotten this far in the first place. But more than the practical side of things, I’ve worked with some really lovely and vastly intelligent people. The Foundation is funny, in that, as a charity, it’s very much like a family, with a stunning upper-middle class location and perks like a nice staff room, fancy biscuits and free pret-a-manger sandwiches after functions. It felt very fulfilling to be working for something that was for the benefit of society rather than a money-grabbing business and this has really changed my outlook on careers. It’s no surprise that most people leave NCOB to go onto further education. The atmosphere seems to stimulate a need to learn and to use that for the benefit of others. I’ve also really appreciated the location and the opportunities it has presented. I’ve come to know central London very well and I can’t fully express how much pride I have for this city now that I feel like it’s my area, my place. I really feel like I belong and there is no more comforting feeling than walking through these famous streets that I know so well.

It was a funny experience, leaving Nuffield. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet and I doubt it will until I turn up for lectures at Imperial on Tuesday. Half of me still expects to be back at Bedford Square at any time. But it was the right time to go. Once ‘routine’ starts to set-in I guess it is time to move-on and grow and I am very aware that time is getting away from me in terms of my career. And besides there is no real goodbye: I was invited to the company away day at Kew Gardens last week (free lunch!) and on Monday Bioethics is having a meal for colleagues past and present, to celebrate what has been pressured but productive year. The week after I will be attending an NCOB talk near Imperial and, timetable permitting, I may get to go to Westminster to experience their Parliamentary briefing. I’m also obliged to take part in the Foundation’s Christmas meal. So, I guess there is no real goodbye, just good luck, see you soon and thanks for all the sandwiches.

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