Why did you decide to undertake a professional placement year?
I decided to undertake a professional placement year to be able to have a break away from University whilst also being able to gain multiple experiences in a profession. These experiences have helped me decide what I do and don’t like from a workplace when looking for graduate job roles.
Why did you decide to apply to Government Social Research Placement Scheme?
I decided to apply to the Government Social Research (GSR) placement scheme because I was interested in conducting research which I learnt from my research modules, whilst having the possibility to have an impact with the research. Also I was interested in the opportunities of being able to develop my research skills whilst on placement that would help me with my final year studies.
Do you have any top tips for succeeding in the application process?
My top tips for succeeding in the application process would be talking to your personal tutor and receiving academic advice about application forms. I would also speak to your placement officer as mine was extremely helpful (throughout my whole placement experience) in guiding me what employers are searching for.
For the interview I would ensure that you are prepared as you have to attend the interview with a piece of research you are happy to talk about (although this may have changed). I practiced with my family before the interview and I also had prepped some responses for some standard interview questions such as “Tell me a time when you have shown leadership qualities?”
What kind of duties and responsibilities did you have in your placement role?
On my placement, I had multiple duties and responsibilities but my day-to-day role consisted of carrying out various research projects with my team. This would involve looking at multiple documents to create a literature review, to help guide us in creating an interview guide. We would then conduct interview and focus groups and collate all the data to thematically analyse. From there we would feedback the analysis to the relevant stakeholders that had asked us to conduct the project.
What did you expect from a placement before you started and what actually happened?
Prior to starting my placement, I expected with social research to be constantly making a big revolutionary changes with the research you produce. However I realised that big revolutionary changes do not come from one single piece of research, instead you notice that your research goes on to make little changes that still gives you that satisfaction of achieving something. I would also say this was my biggest challenge to realise that I was having an impact and achieving outcomes even if at first I didn’t realise it.
What was your biggest achievement during your placement?
I feel like I have had many achievements during my placement. I would say one of my main achievements would be having the opportunity to become a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA). This allowed me to plan and organise with a team of MHFA’s an agenda of activities for Mental Health Awareness Week. This was a great achievement as we raised awareness of mental health through a Mental Health Awareness Board which was focused on the theme of the year – body image. We also raised money for the Charity, Mind and it allowed me to meet some amazing people! I also received praise from the Permanent Secretary, and my team for the organisation of the week’s events.
What new skills did you learn on placement?
New skills that I learnt on placement:
- Standing up for myself in terms of not being afraid to suggest new ideas. This has reflected in my final year through not being afraid to ask questions which I wouldn’t do in first year!
- Furthered my analytical skills, especially the basics of excel
How will doing a placement benefit you in your final year/ the future?
Placement year has already benefited me in my studies, I believe it has made me more efficient in my essay writing but also in analysing relevant texts. I believe it has given me the skills to questions things more regularly then I would have done so in first year.
Placement year will benefit me in the future as it has taught me how important networking with people is and making the most of every opportunity you receive as this allows you to continually grow as a person.
How do you feel the organisation has benefitted from employing a placement student?
I think the organisation potentially benefits from placement students generating new and different ideas to a certain area. However I also think placement students want to learn as much as they can during that year and I think the organisation, especially the people have helped us to achieve that.