Mohammed Afzal, Department for Education

How did you secure your placement?

I applied via the civil service website. Loads of opportunities are available. Numerical and verbal tests are stage one. Phone interview was the last stage. Certain skills are preferred, and two small paragraphs of certain skills being demonstrated is required. Sharon’s newsletters were crucial in finding all the opportunities including this one. 

Describe a typical day?

There are four stages throughout the year. This includes collecting data, analysing data, and publishing official documents to the website. At this stage, the role includes tackling data that seems out of place, attending events across the country and taking part of work-related workshops and networking. I have daily meetings with colleagues and conference meetings with third parties. Using analytical skills to scrutinise data submitted, question responses and challenge all types of queries. The role has a wide range of daily responsibilities and opportunities. No day is the same.

What did you learn/gain during the placement?

Communication skills are developed immensely as you’re required to email, skype, call and directly talk to everyone. I am constantly meeting new people and it is crucial you are communicating effectively.  Software skills are developed, extended skills in data programs, learning codes and developing Microsoft programs including developing organisation skills via Outlook calendar. Team-work skills are extended as parliamentary questions are required to be answered 4pm the same day. Team-work skills are therefore, the most important aspect of the working environment. Making sure everyone is being effective and important to the team.

Would you recommend a Placement to your friends? 

Yes, because the experience you gain from a placement year is invaluable. You must think ahead for your future and see what makes you unique when applying for a job. You don’t only increase your career prospects but gain a level of confidence that makes you attractive to employers. You gain advantages over candidates and fulfil the basic experience an employer seeks.
Not only most placements are paid, you get a job offer ready for graduation or even better a good recommendation for applications for other jobs. It is a nice break from University, it will only benefit you.

How will/has this experience benefit you when you return to your studies?

It is already clear that organisation is the most benefitting skill you will gain. You will be more efficient, on-time and always attending. Confidence will increase and a greater mind-set will be apparent when tackling difficult situations. You tend to be more motivated on completing work to a greater standard on time and accurately. Your studies will become a priority once you see what the working life will be like.