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Placement Project Assistant
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I was keen to get some experience in research and meet new people. Report writing was a critical skill that I wished to improve on. I had just finished the final year of my Integrated Master's degree so was looking to gain some additional work experience whilst I had more time on my hands! My placement was about how we could help more students access placements, which is something I feel strongly about as I had to do a placement for my degree so I understand the difficulties that students may face.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Department email

Application process

I heard about the University of Sheffield Internship Programme through the landscape department's Employability and Student Engagement Officer. Before the Easter break, I completed an application form, which asked me if I had any relevant experience and why I was applying for this role. After Easter, I had an online interview with some of the employability staff from the USP and Landscape departments. A few days later, I was told I got the job!

What made you choose this organisation for your placement/internship?

Being a landscape student, I was already familiar with the landscape department, and was looking forward to meeting the staff in the USP and Geography departments. In the past, I have worked for the University of Sheffield part-time so I was familiar with Career Connect and their employment system. Plus, my commute was only a 15 minute walk!

Main responsibilities

First I had an induction, which involved completing a health and safety course and IT security workshops online. A brief was given to me detailing the work that was required and I had regular meetings with staff in the Urban Studies & Planning (USP), Geography and Landscape departments to track my progress. I conducted desk-based research into barriers for students accessing placements. This involved reading a lot of online papers! It was important that I was selective with my research and only included the most important information to keep my report focussed and concise. I also organised and lead multiple focus groups with students from the USP, Geography and Landscape Departments. For all students in these departments, I created a questionnaire around barriers to accessing placements. Following this, I compiled my findings and added them to my report, which will be used within the faculty to help the university improve its support for students seeking work experience.

Typical day

My role involved hybrid working; some days I was based in the Urban Studies & Planning (USP) office, other days I worked from home. Most days I had a short meeting with my supervisor to check that I was getting on alright, and answer any questions that I had. Every Thursday I had a catch-up meeting with staff across the USP, Geography and Landscape Departments. I would start each day with checking my emails and creating a to-do list. In the first week, my days mostly consisted of desk-based research and writing my questions for the focus groups. In week 2, I led the focus groups and added the information gathered to my report. I also created the questionnaire and wrote up the responses from that. Week 3 mostly consisted of writing up the report!

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I really enjoyed leading my own project and engaging in desk-based research as I enjoy reading and writing. Whilst I was nervous about leading the focus groups, it was actually a really enjoyable experience as all of the students that I spoke to were really friendly and helpful!

Challenging aspects

The biggest challenge was trying to select only the most important and relevant information as there is so much out there! I was nervous about leading the focus groups as I had never done any before. They were also online, which can sometimes make social interactions more difficult as it is harder to read social cues and there can sometimes be technical difficulties. Luckily, it went quite smoothly!

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I used my research and report writing skills learnt from my course, as well as transferable skills such as working with others.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

I now know that I really enjoy working with people and helping others so I would definitely like a career that allows me to do that! I also enjoyed doing the research so I hope that I get more opportunities to engage in research.

As a result of your placement/internship, what are your next steps in planning what you want to do after graduation?

I feel that I am more aware of what I would like from my future career, which will allow me to focus my job search to more specific roles.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Definitely engage in work experience if, and when, you can, as so many employers look for it. Even if it is only a short internship like mine, you can still gain so many valuable skills. If you are unsure whether to apply for a role, just go for it!

Other comments

I would like to thank the USP, Geography and Landscape departments for organising such an insightful and fulfilling internship!

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Form completed: 08 Jul 2022

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