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When Bsc Psychology graduate Sinead was in her second year of study, she didn’t know exactly what career path she wanted to go down, just that she was interested in working in a role which enabled her to support offenders in the Criminal Justice System, helping them understand their behaviours and build a more positive future.

Like many students, however Sinead found it difficult to identify what kind of job roles existed which linked to her interests and enabled her to fulfil her ambitions. Realising this, she did research online, made appointments with the Careers Team to find out about and discuss different pathways, and she explored the Workplace Learning modules available on her course.

In her own words, Sinead explains why taking a placement module was extremely worthwhile and how it led to her securing her ‘dream job’:

The staff at St Mary’s genuinely want to see students do well and succeed. The Employability Services department is no exception and I chose to take a placement module to help me determine what kind of career I wanted to pursue after my studies. The placement really helped me to build my professional network and develop necessary skills.

I had several conversations with my Placement Officer in the lead up to the module and I saw them as a mentor, someone I was able to turn to for advice and support to help me determine where I wanted to be and what I needed to do to get there. I received support from them to source a relevant placement and following that, guidance throughout my time at St Mary’s.

For my placement I worked at REIN (Rights Equalities in Newham), where I conducted research into knife crime. I worked with young people in an under-privileged school, attended the local library to assist young people in their development and had the opportunity to sit in on meetings that discussed the recent crimes in the area and how the charity was going to support the community.

That experience definitely helped me to secure the job that I am currently in, as it showed that I was willing to put myself out there and learn; I increased my:

  • Knowledge
  • Confidence
  • Communication
  • Compassion and understanding.

I am now working as a Resettlement Caseworker in a Secure Training Centre and I am really enjoying my work. Despite not having all the experience required, the placement showed me this was definitely what I am passionate about and so I applied anyway and had nothing to lose. I put myself out there and explained in a detailed cover letter why I felt I was suited to the role and I am so pleased I took that chance because I got the job – literally my dream job!

The experience I gained on placement working with vulnerable young people helped me to confirm my interest in working in that field and it taught me that even if you do not fit the criteria exactly, to go for it anyway and try to ‘sell yourself’.

I 100% recommend doing a placement. Gaining these skills whilst studying is so worth it and it is a great networking opportunity and can open so many doors for students.

Undertaking a placement gives you skills that you would not gain through lectures. It is practical learning and shows that you have a keen interest in the area. It shows your dedication to the area and that you have taken the time to develop yourself professionally, even if it is voluntary.

I definitely became more employable as a result of the placement and would not have had the confidence to go for this job without it.