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    The power of placement: an industry perspective

    7 December 2023

    Dr Lucy Crockford is a Senior Lecturer in Soil and Water Management at Harper Adams University, where her role also means she works as a Placement Tutor and Lecturer.

    Earlier this year, she worked with The Environment Magazine on an article for the publication’s Youth Takeover issue. In it, she set out the importance of the industry placement year all Harper Adams University students undertake – setting out her views, the views of one of our industry partners, and the views of our students.

    In the second part of this series, Hannah Martin, Catchment Adviser for Wessex Water, sets out the value of placements for the company – and we examine some tips for companies considering taking on a placement student.

     

     

    Why are graduate placements valuable to your company?

     

    Hosting a placement student is beneficial to Wessex Water as it brings in new talent to the company with fresh ideas and an eagerness to learn. 

    Along with this, the student is exposed to our industry, broadening their horizons and it may open doors to a future career. It may also offer a development opportunity to an existing employee to manage the placement student, either as a line manager or day to day tasks.

    It is really rewarding, especially when the student goes on and pursues a career in the industry they did their placement in.

     

    What provision do you, as company, make for this?

     

    There are still opportunities within the company for placement students, whilst the business is strongly developing and growing its apprenticeship program. 

     

    Students who make the most of their placement will…

     

    Ask lots of questions and have a “can-do” attitude and willingness to learn and try out a wide spectrum of work and jobs. As well as finding out what they enjoy, it’s just as important to find out what they don’t enjoy. If there is an opportunity for a student to have some ownership of a piece of work or a project, it gives a sense of ownership and value to the student.

     

    Pitfalls or challenges with the placements are…

     

    Fortunately, we have had positive experiences and not many problems. In the grand scheme of the job, a year is a relatively short period of time, once the placement student is all settled into the job and fully self-sufficient, it is time for them to leave. If a student is having to move away it may be a challenge to find suitable accommodation.

     

    Do’s and Don’ts for Placement Employers

     

     Do:

    • Make your placement student feel welcome and home, it’s a daunting experience starting a job in potentially a new area and a different environment to university, so make them feel a part of the team, if they have moved to the local area, advise them on places to go things to do, so they feel welcome and at home.
    • Give them some ownership of a project or a piece of work.
    • Make sure they experience a wide spectrum of work – that way they can see if there is something that they particularly enjoy, or more importantly don’t enjoy. 

     

    Don’t:

     

    • Worry about hand holding. Students become relatively self-sufficient and benefit from a structured progression into a role. Similarly to most graduates, they need to learn how you do your business and that can take some time but is to be expected.
    • Forget that most sandwich courses are supported by the university and they will guide you in taking on a placement student so that you and they have a good and productive experience.

    Recently appointed as Course Manager for the Environment, Sustainability and Wildlife courses, Lucy is tasked with developing further placement opportunities as we launch our new courses:

    BSc (Hons) Environmental Management and Sustainability

    BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation and Ecology

    Please feel welcome to contact her at  lcrockford@harper-adams.ac.uk or Placement Manager, Paul Lewis, plewis@harper-adams.ac.uk to discuss any potential opportunities.

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