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Work Placements at St Mary's

A work placement is a temporary, supervised period of work, which allows you to gain experience in a particular role.

St Mary’s HR Team / host departments work with a range of partners, such as Sixth Form Colleges, Department of Work and Pensions, and the St Mary’s Employability Team, to open up opportunities for young people to gain experience of the workplace.

This page is designed for people who have applied for, or will be starting a temporary work placement at St Mary’s. It contains useful information to help you understand what to expect out of your work placement and how to prepare for your first day.

Like any other job, you will work under your line manager with your fellow team members to maintain and improve your department. Your placement here is an exciting opportunity for you to learn and develop through your experience here with us.

We, at St Mary’s, know that education is important. You will have access to resources to help you improve and learn, as well as chances to experience life at St Mary’s (ask your line manager about extra opportunities). This is an exciting opportunity to improve existing skills and learn new ones.

Your work placement is a real job, and you are expected to show the same level of committment and professionalism as any other member of staff at St Mary's. We also expect you to embody our core values: inclusiveness, generosity of spirit, respect and excellence. This means:

  • You will try your best with your work and the tasks you are given.
  • You will observe good workplace etiquette (such as showing up on time, dressing appropriately, and telling your line manager if you will be late or off sick).
  • You will take responsibility for your own learning by actively engaging with the learning opportunities and resources available to you.
  • You will take an active interest in the work of your team and the university by asking questions, thinking critically, and showing initiative.

You can read more about St Mary's values here. (Top tip: we will ask you how you will uphold these values in your interview!)

St Mary’s University, Twickenham is number one in London for course satisfaction and teaching satisfaction (Guardian University Guide 2020) because of our exceptional people. Since 1850 our University continues to be a remarkable place of study and work because of the talent and commitment of all our people working together to create future leaders. Although we are building an international reputation for excellence in teaching, and now research, we are also striving to become an employer of choice and attract global talent to support our ambition. We strongly believe that real diversity delivers greater impact in all we do and enhances the experience of our students. Our people, both staff and students, are at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to continuing to build a university community that shapes the lives and future prospects of everyone who works and studies here and our People Strategy sets out how we will support this. We have set out clearly our ambition and commitment that underpins the continued realisation of the University Vision 2025 and will be a key contributor to our continued growth and aspiration.

Working here means you may be spending a lot of time in and around our main campus and other St Mary's sites. You can find out more about campus, travel, and things to do in the local area below:


Hear from Daniel Elvin, Junior Service Desk Operator, about his Kickstart Work Placement in the IT Service Desk.

Frequently Asked Questions

The interview is your opportunity to show us why you want to do a work placement at St Mary's, and what you can bring to the role. Some things you can do to really impress include:

  • Read through your application carefully, so your answers are fresh in your mind
  • Read through the job description and person specification carefully so you know what is expected from the role
  • Write down some examples of when you have used some of the skills mentioned in the job description or person specification
  • Learning about St Mary's mission and values
  • Learning about the team you would be joining (you can find team web pages in the staff section of the website here)

You will receive instructions on where to go on your first day and what time to arrive. Starting a new job can be nerve-racking so try to make that morning as stress free as possible by researching your route thouroughly and aiming to arrive early. Arriving with time to walk around or grab a drink from the Dolce Vita Cafe is much better than being held up and arriving late on your first day!

You can also read more about the university and the team you're joining ahead of your first day by exploring the website. The staff section of the website has team web pages, as well as staff news and announcements. This will give you an idea what's going on, and you might find upcoming training or events that you're interested in attending. Click here to go to the staff section of the website.

Your job description outlines the main responsibilities of your job. If there is something in the job decription you are unsure about you can ask your line manager about it when you start. You will also complete training and supplementary courses to prepare you for further employment after the 6-month period with the university comes to an end.

Your line manager will agree a personal development plan with you for your time here. There is the opportunity to learn new skills and expand on existing ones. Review sessions will happen at regular intervals to take a look at your progress and see where you could benefit the most from working. The support available to all staff, such as online courses and mentoring, is summarised here.

Your line manager is your boss and the person who will be directly in charge of you. They will set work, discuss your development needs with you, and give you feedback on your strengths and where you can improve. You will be able to see the work structure tree through logging into your PeopleNet account. This is accessible through the staff landing page.

When you start at St Mary's you will usually meet your line manager in the main reception. You will also be given a tour of the campus, and you will meet your team and others that you will be working with. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your Line Manager.

Showing that you are interested and being polite is a great way to make a good first impression. Stay attentive and ask questions when unsure or when you are interested to know more. You can also ask your manager, what they expect from you, and what would they really like to see from you during your placement.

And don't underestimate the basics! Things like showing up on time, checking you've understood, or a quick email to let your line manager know you've received their request and are working on it, all help show your team that you're responsible and reliable.

Uniform and dress code varies department to department. If you haven't been given specific instructions, a good choice to dress smart, and then you can adjust what you wear when you've had a chance to see how the rest of your team dress.

You will be provided with any equipment you need, and somewhere to store your belongings, when you get here. However you may want to bring simple things like a bottle of water, note pad and pen, with you so you can take notes when you first meet your manager. The Refectory sells food from 12:30pm - 2:00pm, but you are welcome to bring your own food. 

Different departments handle different problems. A full list of contacts can be found here.
You can also talk to your manager if you are unsure. Generally, your line manager should be able to tell you where to go for specific issues.