PG Blog: Rose Leek #5 Pirouettes and Placements

On a Tuesday evening I attend a beginner’s ballet class. I decided to try it five months ago, and have been going ever since. From the first cautious steps, I now take delight in my ability to remember short sequences and foot positions. Whilst I will never be a prima ballerina, and often catch sight in the mirror of my legs and arms Kermit-like, gangly limbs stretching and bending, the confidence that comes from learning new information and skill is a powerfully uplifting feeling.

Whilst it involves less dancing, the same process has taken place with study. From first nerves at the module workshop in October, to working out how to fit studying alongside work and home, the satisfaction is in the little achievements when parts of a theory start to make sense, coupled with the happy boost when you keep your promise of studying, fitting it in with the chores of grown-up life and work.

In gaining a re-appreciation and enthusiasm for this learning process, it has also impacted positively on my day-to-day job. As a placements officer, I work to assist engineering and sciences students in finding a year-long undergraduate placement, and love what I do.  I work to endorse the benefits of a placement and to liaise with employers in sourcing and promoting positive opportunities.

I never completed a placement as an undergraduate and it could have made a real difference to how I approached the 3rd year of study, and my start full-time into the world of work. I am not an engineer or a scientist, and so the scientific detail of the projects some students work on is above my understanding (as a former film studies student, I didn’t exactly do much lab work). However, what I can see is the impact of a new, and very different, learning process these students experience through a placement year. Going from undergraduate student on campus to placement employee, in most cases full-time for 12 months, they are exposed to new expectations and information from their working environment.

To begin with, they might feel like a newbie in a dance class, trying to process and coordinate new information and instructions, but the student that returns 12 months later is professional, enthusiastic, and hopefully positively uplifted through the skills they have learnt.

It is encouraging to find I can relate my own experience of studying the CEIGHE with that of the experiences of the students I work with. I hope it can allow me to be more sympathetic to the potential early nerves of some students transitioning to their placement jobs, whilst also better recognising the amount of new information and knowledge they are gaining through learning over the year.

About the author

Rose LeekRose Leek is a paid blogger for CLL.

I relocated back near my hometown last year in Surrey, after a decade living near the sea in East Kent. I work in a University Employability & Careers Centre, assisting engineering and science students onto a placement year as part of their degree, and providing administrative support to their academic tutors.

I started the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Education, Information and Guidance in Higher Education (CEIGHE) in October 2017 and am looking forward to developing a wider awareness of the service I work within, and increasing my confidence and understanding.

I have experienced a year with lots of change, and it is both exciting and daunting to be adding studying back into my life. I have never written a blog and my reasoning for doing so is the hope that it will help me to better reflect on, and share, my experience as a CEIGHE student. My course is mainly distance taught, with a few residential workshops per year. I wanted to also try to share the perspective of being a distance student, and how I will (hopefully!) learn to juggle the balance of study, work and home.

I look forward to the journey ahead!

And if all else fails, maybe the cat can do some of my studying for me?

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