11 January 2019

Enhance a student’s professional development through the micro-placements scheme

By Development and Alumni Relations Team

Through Royal Holloway’s award-winning micro-placements scheme you can make a real difference to a current Royal Holloway student and help them take their first steps into employment.

The scheme, whose popularity amongst students is increasing every year, is an innovative way of improving students’ skills and employability. It provides 2-4 week unpaid work experience opportunities to undergraduate students across 14 academic departments and Royal Holloway’s placements team is always looking for organisations that are able to facilitate a micro-placement.

We are currently supporting students who are particularly keen to gain valuable experience in the following specific sectors this summer: healthcare, ecology & conservation, financial services, arts administration, journalism, museums & heritage, geoscience, publishing, PR & marketing, criminal justice, film, TV & radio production, data analysis, logistics, local government, IT and the non-for-profit/charity sector.

Students have to go through a competitive selection process including CV and interview assessments to secure a placement, so you can be assured that all micro-placements candidates are highly motivated.

Our micro-placements are not only amazing opportunities for students to gain practical work experience in a specific industry, but they also bring many benefits to you as an employer. Interns are a source of fresh ideas, they can take a bit of pressure off other staff members and you might even find a potential future employee.

Interested in offering a micro-placement or finding out more? Get in touch with the placements team at careersplacements@royalholloway.ac.uk.

What do our employers say?

Libbie - microplacementWe speak to Libbie Read from Findacure (pictured), who has hosted a placement student for the past two years:

How did you benefit from the micro-placements scheme / student as an employer?
As a small team of only four people, having an extra pair of hands for a few weeks makes a huge difference to what we’re able to achieve over the summer. We’ve had a student placed with us for the past two summers and they’ve both been very hard working and professional in their approach. In addition to completing tasks essential to the core work of the charity, they’ve brought fresh pairs of eyes and seen new ways of doing things, meaning the impact of their work is wider and longer than their actual placement. We are very grateful to the Royal Holloway micro-placements scheme for this opportunity!

What would you say to anyone considering hosting a Royal Holloway student on a micro-placement?
If you’re unsure whether have a placement student at your organisation, I’d say the best thing is to flip the question on its head and ask ‘why not?’. You get an extra pair of professional and friendly hands to help with your projects, and you can also feel a sense of fulfilment from contributing to the students’ professional development – it’s a win-win! You can also be rest assured that the placements team is very supportive from start to finish. They clearly want the best for their students and we’ve been impressed with how accommodating and responsive they are. It’s been a pleasure to be involved in the micro-placements scheme.

What do our students say?

Final year Geography student Amelia Acreman completed a micro-placement with Covea Insurance in Reading during the summer of her second year vacation.

Here’s what she had to say about her work experience …

What skills did you learn during your micro-placement?

Confidence: My self-confidence increased. I realised that you have make mistakes in order to improve and speed up when a similar task arises again. My experience also taught me to ask lots of questions and not to be shy, as people are usually very happy to help.
Commercial awareness: I was so involved with the company and got to see how it runs. This has increased my knowledge vastly on what an insurance company is and how the business works. The internship really enabled me to engage with current situations occurring within the company as well as in the industry.
Creativity: Over the two weeks, some of the tasks we were given required a fresh set of eyes and a more creative approach, which I loved! This allowed my creative juices to flow and I got to see what worked and what didn’t through trial and error. This showed me that in the work place, it’s good to try new ways of doing things even if they may not work at first.

What was a typical day like when on your placement?

No day was typical. My days were jam packed and involved meeting lots of people from many different departments in the company who explained their job role and their daily tasks. They were very open to helping me and responded to any of my quesitons.

This is my account of one of my days on placement:

Friday 6 August 2018: Today, we worked on our attraction document which was looking out how to attract more people to the Reading offices but also attracting women into the industry.

We then went to a wellbeing meeting and got to see how the company really cares about its people and that its not all about insurance. We then spoke to a scrum master (I had no idea these existed before this meeting!) which was interesting, as you don’t think there are certain ways to do projects but there are e.g. Agile approach. We then worked with Rebekah in Marketing on the Christmas meal event, which was interesting as you knew you were working towards something that was actually going to happen!

What were the highlights of your experience?

The Thatchem talk: Thatchem is a company which tests autonomous cars to make sure they are compliant to drive on the roads and see what situations they fail in. They showed us a Tesla and Mercedes with self-drive technology and spoke about the future of the insurance car industry with this new technology.

It was so interesting to engage with not only current issues but the effects that these issues will have on the future for the insurance industry. It was also very cool to sit in driverless cars such as a Tesla to almost see the future of the roads!

I also enjoyed having an opportunity to work on a project with the Risk and Compliance department that allowed to be creative and work on something that will actually be of use to them. It’s nice to know that I could actually be helpful to them even though I’d never worked within a department like that before.

Having a desk, as simple as it may seem! It was nice to have your own log in, your own email and space to work. This made it feel very professional and allows you to fully integrate with the team.

Were there any low points?

I honestly cannot think of any low points as all of things we were doing were of so much interest to me!

What was the best piece of advice that you received while on your micro-placement?

Make sure to try different areas whilst working. This is because many of the people I spoke to did not start out in that department originally and moved throughout the office in order to find a position they liked.

I think this is key because its always good to try new things and constantly be learning. Furthermore, not being scared to move and to realise that there’s always a way to find your ideal job, even it means moving sideways before you move upwards within a company!

Did you make any contacts while at Covea Insurance?

Yes, I have since used LinkedIn to connect with the people I met whilst working at Covea. Hopefully, this will solidify my professional network.

What advice would you give other students interested in similar work?

It’s really key to make sure you find something you enjoy and find stimulating, as you are there from nine to five everyday! And the only way to do that is to get work experience and find out what you like, don’t like and what you’re good at. Mixing it up and change is good as it ensures that you embrace the experience rather than fear it!