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Project Assistant
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I decided to do a placement because I wanted to use my time in Sheffield to gain all the experience and opportunities possible. Not only would it be a very beneficial addition to my CV, but it would also equip me with skills and learning experiences which I could use in future. It was also a rewarding opportunity.

How did you find your placement/internship?

I participated in the MA Work Placement module, and this was my chosen placement, which I was able to continue for the AHEAD scheme.

Application process

In application for this role, I completed a form stating the details of the organisation, the role I would play and why this scheme would be beneficial. During this, I also communicated with the organisation about the application process.

Main responsibilities

For this role, my main responsibilities included helping to set up and gather the resources needed for the workshop - be that moving and arranging tables, printing documents or preparing refreshments. The main responsibility was to mentor the kids that participated in the workshops. For story-making workshops, this involved writing down all their ideas and helping them to finish their stories. For other workshops such as the Embassy for Re-Imagining Rotherham (ERR), I talked with the young people to help come up with ideas. In addition, other responsibilities included writing fairy-tale mail, helping with the publishing of stories and tidying the writers pad for the next workshop.

Typical day

A typical day involved arriving at least thirty minutes early, so I would arrive around forty-five minutes early. For the first fifteen I would help prepare refreshments for the workshop, and assist in setting up the writers pad (i.e. arrange tables and chairs, prepare writing materials and tidy it). For the remaining thirty minutes, if there were no other preparations to make, then there would be a briefing to inform the volunteers about how the workshop would be running, how many and of what age the pupils were and the duties of the volunteers. For the story-making workshops, I would either help publish the stories into books, or work directly with the pupils in mentoring them with their ideas, and helping them with spelling and finishing the story. For the ERR workshop, the activities included encouraging ideas about how the pupils would like to improve Rotherham, and help to produce posters and mind-maps displaying their ideas. After a workshop (which would averagely last about 4 hours), there would be a debrief - a talk amongst the volunteers about how the workshop ran, mentioning any concerns or notes about the group, as well as discussing what was achieved. After this discussion, I would help to tidy and clear the work-space, and stay to help out with any other tasks, such as fairy-tale mail: when kids visited Grimm and Co, there's a desk on which they can write/post letters to their favourite fictional characters. Using creative styles, I wrote back to some of these letters. For example, I wrote as Elsa from 'Frozen', Tinkerbell,and Jack from 'Jack and the Beanstalk.' After writing draft replies, I would write up the letters on colourful paper using different pens, for the staff at Grimm and Co. to seal in an envelope and 'post' back. Following this, I would have a quick chat with the staff members about the next time I would be in and what I would be doing.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

What I really enjoyed about this placement was getting to work directly with the kids - talking to them and listening to their creative ideas. Regardless if I mentored in two similar workshops; no two groups of pupils were the same, and seeing their confidence from the start of a workshop grow by the end of it was a very rewarding experience which made me eager for the next workshop.

Challenging aspects

Challenging aspects involved working with kids who suffered from learning or behavioural difficulties, such as dyslexia or autism. It wasn't challenging to mentor them (that made the volunteering even more rewarding, as it helped to boost their self-esteem) but it was challenging to show all the kids equal attention. It helped that teachers, teaching assistants, parents or carers were always present in these workshops to either assist the pupil or assist the volunteers in mentoring them, so equal amounts of attention could be paid to all students in the workshop.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I used my proofreading skills, which were essential for the course's assessments, to proofread the stories written by the pupils. This was almost to a disadvantage at times, however, because it was essential to keep the kids' verbatim in the stories and not to edit their stories too much. Another skill I used was multi-tasking, as I had to complete many tasks at Grimm and Co. to ensure the smooth running of the workshops. However, working with Grimm and Co. allowed me to gain a fresh repotoire of skills.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Before I began the placement, I thought I would pursue a career in teaching (secondary or A-Level) or publishing. From working with Grimm and Co., I am now encouraged to work with young people, whether teaching or mentoring/tutoring, and I am no longer ruling out primary school teaching.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

When it comes to a work placement, my advice would be to say no as little as possible. There are so many experiences and skills to be gained even in an extra hour of working. Not all tasks will be fulfilling at the time, but it definitely will be in the long-term. You'll develop a new and healthy work ethic, and ultimately you will help yourself and your CV by doing all you can to help the people of your chosen organisation.

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Form completed: 05 Sep 2017

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