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Emilie - Student Centre Micro-Placement

Emilie , MSc Applications of Psychology Student

The interview and application process:

I decided to apply for the Micro-Placement scheme once I had begun my Masters Degree, as I had applied for various jobs after finishing my Undergraduate Degree, and despite my good grades, I felt that my lack of experience applying for jobs was holding me back. I felt that I was unable to communicate my strengths effectively, and I also did not have enough experience to support my applications.

The process of the Micro-Placement began with me completing an application and interview for the position I was interested in. I selected the Infozone, as I believed it would give me the most varied experience and help me to develop a range of different skills. The application required me to consider the criteria for the role and to detail how I felt I would be suitable. This in itself was a useful tool, as it allowed me to practice the application process and identify what worked, given the fact I was invited to the interview stage. It was also good practice for me to have to talk about my skills, as I have been told I undersell myself often!

The interview process was nerve-racking, as it was conducted much like any other job interview. However, the interviewers were very friendly, and followed up with further questions if I hadn’t given enough detail. This allowed me to recognise what sort of skills interviewers were looking for, and I was given the time to think about my responses, rather than saying the first thing that came to my head because I was nervous!

Starting the placement:

Having been given the position at the Infozone, I met with Maria, who was to be my mentor for the placement. She was extremely friendly and welcoming, and told me exactly what sort of things I would be doing, and made sure that I was aware that the hours were flexible around my studies. This was really useful, particularly around the time that I had a lot of deadlines, as I was able to work around them so that my degree didn’t suffer.

I did a variety of different tasks throughout my placement, such as preparing for applicant interviews and induction days, sitting at the front desk to answer any walk in enquiries, processing applicants information ready for interviews and responding to email queries that the Infozone received, to name but a few tasks! Throughout the placement I was also in charge of a project for the Infozone, entitled ‘Dignity and Respect in the Workplace’, where I researched dignity and respect at various other institutions and then created banners, leaflets and posters that would eventually be displayed at the University. This project in particular served as a visual representation of some of the skills I have gained during the placement.

How the Micro-Placement has helped me develop:

Whilst the practical skills I have gained on the placement have been extremely useful, and have given me experience I am able to document on my CV, I feel that the most rewarding aspect of the placement is the development I have made personally. Before the placement I was very unsure of myself and my abilities, whilst those who know me well frequently said that I have a lot to offer, I wasn’t showing this to employers, and this in combination with my lack of practical experience meant I wasn’t getting the jobs I applied for. However, every one of my colleagues in the Infozone was so friendly and welcoming, and were there to answer any questions I had and were all very keen to help me improve and develop. They set me tasks that I wouldn’t normally feel confident doing, such as sitting at the front desk and answering people’s queries face to face, but made me feel so relaxed in doing so and were quick to praise me when I had done something well. It was such a nurturing and caring environment that I felt free to ask questions in order to aid my development and in turn gave me much greater confidence in my abilities and what I can offer.

 As a result of this development, I applied for a position with Headway Cambridgeshire, as a Rehabilitation Worker. Whilst initially I felt that I didn’t have enough experience for the job, I applied in the hopes that my knowledge of the area would get me through. To my surprise I was invited for the interview and found that I had much more confidence in what I was able to offer, due to my time on the Micro-Placement. I am pleased to say that I was offered the job and I am now working at Headway alongside my Master’s degree! I wholeheartedly believe that the Micro-Placement gave me the push I needed to put myself out there and apply for positions I was interested in, and I now found myself with a job that I love and never would have imagined I would be capable of. I owe a lot to those who took the chance on me and gave me a place on the Micro-Placement, and I am forever grateful to the lovely Infozone team who made me feel so welcome and helped me develop in ways I never thought possible.

I would highly recommend the Micro-Placement to anyone who feels they need more experience before entering the world of work. It is not just another thing to add to your CV, but is also a way that you can develop confidence and skills in an environment where it is ok to ask questions and to not know the answers, and one where everyone is committed to your development and growth.