Who was your placement with and what was your job title?
I carried out my placement with Plymouth University on the student placement scheme as a technical assistant within the Technology Information Service department.
What attracted you to this placement opportunity?
I was particularly interested in this role due to the variety and diversity of the job. I was familiar with the University from a student’s perspective, but was interested to experience it from a staff perspective and to see what systems and services were being applied to enhance the student experience.
How did you go about securing your placement and what was the process for this?
I applied for this role after I saw it advertised on the University placement website, I went on to complete the online application form which led to an interview. My interview consisted of three segments. Firstly, there was a multiple choice test to assess my subject knowledge. After this, I had a technical scenario test to assess my problem-solving skills as well as my customer service capabilities. The final part was the interview with the panel.
Can you describe the various roles and responsibilities of your placement?
My responsibilities were really diverse during my placement which kept each day interesting. I helped to run the laptop clinic where we resolved various issues with student laptops. I also provided technical support at various help desks as well as dealing with networking issues in the halls of residence.
How did the Careers and Employability Department (Placements Team) support you both before your placement?
I found the careers and employability department really useful. They helped me write my personal statement for my application and helped to guide me through the whole application process. They provided me with a valuable insight into what employers are looking for in CVs/application forms. Once I secured an interview they helped to prepare me for this by building my confidence to do my best in the interview.
How did the academic staff support you during your placement?
The academic staff were really supportive and helped me understand the importance of carrying out the placement year. My placement tutor, who was also one of my lecturers, came to visit throughout the year. She encouraged me to be proactive in my role and get involved in more projects that would provide me with valuable industry experience. She also helped me understand how a lot of my placement knowledge and experience could be applied within my final year. I learned the benefits of maintaining my work ethic to help with time management and meeting deadlines in my final year.
How did your previous studies enable you to be successful during your placement?
My first two years at University provided me with the knowledge base I needed during my placement year. I was able to apply my technical knowledge to real-world situations, which enhanced my understanding and demonstrated useful applications of what I learnt in lectures into a working environment. Non-academic skills, such as time management, communication and organisation skills – that I developed on my course – were also beneficial during my placement year.
How will your placement help you with the final year of your degree?
The placement year teaches you so much about the working environment which you can correlate into your final year to help you achieve your best. My placement year helped me develop my final year project idea, providing me with confidence knowing I could start my final year with a plan. My colleagues during my placement year ended up being the clientele for my final year project, and it was great to have them on hand to test and provide input into the development of my project. Bringing across my 9-5 work ethic from my placement year also helped me avoid a lot of last-minute hand-ins with more efficient time management skills.
In terms of your career development so far, what have been the benefits of undertaking this placement?
The placement year provided me with valuable industry experience that set me apart from other graduates, helping my CV stand out. Most importantly my placement year provided me with assurance. I knew the IT area I wanted to work in and what type of job I wanted after graduation. It helped me develop a passion for working within a higher educational environment with a lot of variety. The experiences from my placement year helped me obtain my current role as a data and system officer in a similar higher educational institution.
What would you say to a prospective student thinking about undertaking a placement year?
The placement year is extremely beneficial and I would highly recommend it to any students considering it. Not only will a year in industry give you valuable experience and provide a better understanding of working life, it can also help you pick up new skills to achieve a better grade in your final year. Doing a placement year will also help you grow your network by building connections with industry experts and individuals who can help you throughout your career.
Was the fact that Plymouth offered a placement year a motivational factor in your decision to choose Plymouth? If so, why?
I chose Plymouth due to the quality of my course and the facilities at the University. Initially, I wasn’t concerned about doing a placement, but once I started on my course, the tutors and placements team pushed the importance and value of a placement year which motivated me to apply for placements.