This year, I was fortunate enough to be funded by IATL to produce a project. During my placement year, like many other students, I was deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It resulted in the extreme difficulty of finding a placement as many were cancelled. At the beginning of the year, I was unsure of how I was going to use the rest of my placement year. That was until I was introduced to IATL and the possibility of producing my own research.

After research and gaining more information on IATL, I pondered on what I would focus on. I concluded, along with my placement officer, that the most appropriate topic would be the effect the pandemic has had on placement, leading to a huge increase on remote online placements. Many students, including my own peers, spent their entire year working from home. As the first cohort experiencing their entire placement amidst the pandemic, I thought it be fantastic to produce research in which these students could talk about their experience and impart their own advice on online placements. Hopefully, this will be helpful to the prospective students who wish to take on a placement student and would love more information to make a more informed decision. I decided to interview students on their experience before and during their placement, the future as well as the support received from the university and employer throughout the placement. With this data, I produced a report and an audio drama.

My journey began with a proposal, created by me along with the help of my placement officer. I was able to get contact with a member of IATL who further explained the criteria or IATL and encouraged me to involve my own interests and hobbies within the project. I decided to also produce a fictionalised audio drama, using the responses I collected through my interviews. It took a while for the proposal to be approved, as ethics had to also be approved before I could proceed.

Once the project was approved, I awarded the funding and was able to contact students who were currently on remote online placements. It was difficult recruiting participants as some failed to reply to invitations so my project didn’t recruit as many participants as I would’ve hope. Fortunately those who I did get to interview, had a wealth of experience and advice to give which was really useful. The interview process was very beneficial for me. Being able to curate a list of relevant questions which garnered useful responses was challenging but I was extremely happy with the data gathered and I believed it will be very useful to students. I was also able to meet peers on my course that I’d never met before which was nice. Another challenge was transcribing. I was unable to activate the feature in which Microsoft Teams transcribes dialogue, I had to endure the tedious task transcribing my interviews, which sometime went on for up to 45 minutes. It was a gruelling task I’m happy to have gained experience in. But hopefully I will not have to that again. I enjoyed analysing the data and being able to explore the range of experiences I had gathered. I also enjoyed creating the report and putting it together. I guess my enjoyment comes from the fact I’ve spent the last two years practising analysis and reporting skills on my course. The only real challenge was working my qualitative data. I’ve only worked my quantitative data as a psychology student so working with words, and many words at that, so something extremely different. But again, I revel in trying new and challenging things.

The audio drama was that last part of the project which needed to be completed. For this, I thoroughly read through my data, finding ways to include my information into a script that was still entertaining as well as insightful and informative. I recruited two really talented actors who also added their own personality and creativity to the script, so it was a group effort. I worked with my brother (a musician and sound engineer) to edit and produce my audio. It was a big challenge piecing the recordings together for it to sound cohesive and clear. I’m happy I gave myself the challenge of producing the audio myself. It was really fun looking for cool sounds to accompany my recordings in order for it to sound like a realistic phone call.

Overall, the entire experience of producing work was extremely beneficial for me and my own development, educationally and personally. I’ve been to develop skills as well as learn brand new skills I will now be able to use once I go back university, in the work place, in a creative space or in my personal life.