Who was your placement with and what was your job
My placement was with
Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), Plymouth’s largest social landlord, and my
position was as an Operational Data Analyst.
What attracted you to this placement
I was initially attracted
to this opportunity after looking at the job description, and finding that a
majority of the required skills matched those I had accumulated from completing
the first two years of my degree. Although the Housing Association didn’t seem a
typical destination for someone with a maths degree, it interested me due to
being able to have a positive impact on the local community. It was also a good
opportunity to work within a large and local organisation.
How did you go about securing your placement and
what was the process for this?
The first step in securing
this placement was to complete and submit the application form via email, as
PCH does not accept CVs, so I needed to work on my application form in order to
make sure I gave the best first impression possible. As my form was all I would
be able to submit in order to apply for the role, I needed it to stand out, I
then received an email inviting me to interview. The first step of the
interview process was to complete an assessment, where I was given a
spreadsheet of data to analyse and this was followed by an interview where we
discussed the skills I had put on my application form in greater depth.
Can you describe the various roles and
responsibilities of your placement?
One of the main roles of
my placement is to complete weekly reports on a rotation with the other data
analysts. As well as this, an important part is receiving and interpreting ad hoc requests for analysis and
interpretation of complex data, and to turn this into information which can be
easily interpreted to assist in performance monitoring, decision making and
operational service improvement. I am also working on several ongoing projects
within the business to improve and refine processes. It is encouraging to know
that my work
can create change within the business.
How did the Careers & Employability department
(Placements Team) support you both before your placement?
Throughout university, the
placement team have always been on hand to provide advice. From my first year
they were holding sessions in order to introduce the idea of a placement
followed by more in-depth sessions in the
second year of the course to provide us with all the advice we needed to begin
searching for and applying for placements, as well as inviting in students who
had completed placements to share their experiences. My placement at PCH was
one found and advertised by the placement team, and I was always welcome before
any interview to meet in order to prepare myself for it.
How did the academic staff support you during your
My academic tutors were
always very approachable when I asked for advice relating to placements.
Speaking to my tutor in the second year
helped me to improve my CV and make it more professional, as well as helping me
make the decision that I wanted to complete a placement. Throughout my placement, I stayed in contact with the
academic staff through completing my progress reports as well as the two visits
from my placement tutor in the workplace.
How did your previous studies enable you to be
successful during your placement?
My previous studies had
provided me with a whole host of skills which prepared me for my placement, the
key ones being the computer skills I had learnt, particularly in Excel, to
assist with the data analysis and to be able to think logically and
analytically. But having been able to study such a wide range of mathematics
throughout my first two years of university definitely prepared me for the
challenge of a placement year. It has been very interesting being able to apply
these in the real world.
How will your placement help you with the final year
of your degree?
I have found that I have
become much more confident in my own abilities, which I am sure will be
beneficial when it comes to completing my final year. Also having worked full
time, I feel a lot more focused, which again will help me complete my studies.
This experience has helped me discover what I would like to do after I graduate,
and so now I can make a more informed decision in which final year modules to
take in order to work towards that.
In terms of your career development so far, what
have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?
has given me a wide set of new skills aside from those learnt throughout my
degree which I would not have earned had I not spent a year in the workplace. In a majority interviews and applications, you need to be able to provide
examples to evidence your skills. Having
completed a year-long placement, I have had
many experiences I can draw on in order to do this.
What would you say to a prospective
student thinking about undertaking a placement year?
If you are at
all considering a placement year, it is definitely worth looking into placements
available to you, as there are many more
than you think in a variety of industries so you are sure to find something
that will capture your interest. And if you are sure you are interested, try and
get as much experience beforehand in order to help you in the application
process, whether it be the FLUX and Hotseat competitions, working as a student
ambassador or as a PALS leader.
Was the fact that Plymouth
offered a placement year a motivational factor in your decision to choose
Plymouth? If so, why?
This wasn’t the
sole reason which drove me to apply at Plymouth, as the friendly and welcoming
atmosphere did that! However, it was a definite bonus to know that I had the
option of completing a placement year, without any pressure to decide whether
or not I wanted to until I found the right option.