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GSD students share their work placement stories

School for Cross-faculty Studies students presenting during online work placement event

Top row L-R: Keelie Renwick, Nirav Shah, Rheanna Mathurin
Bottom row L-R: Carlos Moreno, Nouran El-Faki, David Purcell

On Wednesday 9 December 2020, the School for Cross-faculty Studies hosted a 'Work Placement Talk and Live Q&A event', organised by the School's Employability and Placement Manager, Bodrun Nahar. The event aimed to give current students in the School the opportunity to hear directly from students who undertook a work placement. The speakers were encouraged to share their experiences of their work placements, including the challenges, the benefits, and their advice for any students considering doing a work placement.

During the session, we heard about a variety of work placements from as local as Birmingham to as global as Malaysia. On the local level, final-year single honours GSD student Keelie Renwick shared her experience of working at an open-source intelligence company in Birmingham. Keelie's role as a Junior Intelligence Analyst at the firm involved compiling reports for clients based on open source investigations. During her placement, Keelie spent time getting a better understanding of how the internal business worked by shadowing the senior management team. By doing so, she was given the opportunity to take charge of securing a potential client for the firm.

"We can all think of what our value is in academia, but in a working environment this is really different. How can you present yourself uniquely in the future? A placement can help you do this." | Keelie

Speaking to this idea of value, we also heard from final-year GSD and Business Studies student Carlos Moreno, who completed a placement at a commodity trading and mining company in Switzerland. During his placement, Carlos was able to look deeper into how the shipping industry is transitioning towards more sustainable practices. Carlos spoke about the benefit of being able to experience a specific sector whilst on placement, and simultaneously, the company being able to see how you add value to their firm.

"I wanted to gain further experience before graduating. The greatest thing about doing a work placement is that you put yourself in a working environment and really get to experience what it's like to work in a particular company." | Carlos

Carlos' final-year dissertation will be linked directly to his placement, looking at the shipping industry and how it's transitioning towards sustainability.

The variety of work placements discussed during the session attests to the range of potential career paths open to students studying GSD. Final-year GSD and Business Studies student Nirav Shah completed his placement at a global investment management firm in London. Nirav discussed the benefits of undertaking a shorter work placement to see if you enjoy the work and the company, before looking to see if there's scope to expand the summer placement into a yearlong placement.

"The placement most importantly helped to confirm that I do want to work in the finance industry after I graduate. Even if I decided I didn't want to, it would have still been a valuable opportunity as it meant I was able to test the waters before I committed to a specific career path." | Nirav

Taking her GSD experience truly global, final-year Sociology and GSD student Nouran El-Faki talked about her work placement in Malaysia, undertaking a placement at an NGO service provider for domestic violence survivors. The majority of Nouran's work involved advocacy. Being introduced to legal research helped Nouran to consider whether she'd like to undertake a law conversion after finishing her undergraduate degree.

"The work placement is a good opportunity to get experience whilst receiving constant support. Bodrun was helpful, reached out, and checked up on me from the other side of the world. The monthly reflections you submit as part of the placement force you to reflect on your experiences in a way you might not have otherwise, and doing so helps you to learn from your experiences." | Nouran

Figuring out what to do after university was also a beneficial part of final-year Sociology and GSD student Rheanna Mathurin's placement. Rheanna shared with us her experiences of her placement in New York at an NGO that promotes environmental awareness and solutions. With it being a very small organisation Rheanna was given a lot of responsibility which proved to be a useful but pressured learning experience. The work placement helped Rheanna to understand her future career path more.

"Sustainability as a career isn't just a one-way path - it encompasses everything. Learning about how different companies utilise sustainability was interesting as it helped me to better understand what career path I thought I'd be interested in." | Rheanna

During the session, we also heard from a local employer, David Purcell, Chief Executive Officer at NetWatch Global. David provided background on what NetWatch Global do and shared with us why his company offers work placements for university students.

"Taking on placement students can bring in different insight into the business. Especially with GSD students, you're able to bring a whole wealth of insight and understanding that we don't currently have. It gives us a different view point and provides a different perspective on what we do." | David

The event concluded with questions from the audience. Overall, we hope this event has inspired students in the School to consider a work placement or to apply if they were already thinking about doing so. If you are a current student and would like to find out more about undertaking a work placement, please get in touch with our Employability and Placement Manager, Bodrun:

Top tips

A round-up of some of the advice shared by our students during the session:

  • "Expect rejections. They hurt and demotivate you, but they are a great opportunity to learn from. Feedback can benefit your future applications." Nirav Shah
  • "When applying, your assessment centre and interview invitations can be really last minute. Leave yourself a good amount of time to prepare for them. Something might come your way unexpectedly - you have to go for it and be in a good position to do so." Keelie Renwick
  • "Always research the company you're applying to, what they do, their values, and the projects they've completed. To make a good application, you need to know the company and the industry inside out." Nouran El-Faki
  • "If you get rejected and they don't specify why, reach out and ask. That can be very useful." Rheanna Mathurin
Work placement options

A reminder of the work placement options available to you as a GSD student:

  1. Yearlong work placement: You’ll complete a four-year degree and your work placement will take place in your third year. The work placement can take place in the UK or globally and after completion, you’ll return to Warwick for your final year.
  2. Short work placement: As part of the Certificate of Professional Communication, you’ll undertake a short four-week work placement which takes place during
    the summer.
  3. Finding your own placement: We really encourage our students to engage in as many work experience opportunities as possible. This can be outside of the short work placement attached to the Certificate of Professional Communication and the intercalated year-long work placement.