Madeline Howard is a current BA English student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. She took the Humanities in the Workplace placement module and worked with Carclew Estate – a ruined country house estate located between Penryn and Mylor, which is now a haven for wildlife.
Why did you decide to take a placement module?
I took the module because I felt that it would be a good way of allowing me to see how Humanities degrees allow for a variety of job opportunities, and not just be an English teacher like everyone suggests! I also felt that it would be interesting to do a module that wasn’t strictly like all of the other ones that I was doing – everything else was very text heavy (as expected!) so it was really good to have a module that was far much more discussion based and had a somewhat more casual structure than that of other modules.
“My placement was heavily based on independent research, looking at what certain rooms at the estate may have looked like prior to the extensive damage to the estate that was caused by a fire in the 1930s.”
What type of work you did on your placement? How do you feel this has given you experience for your future studies/career?
My placement was heavily based on independent research, looking at what certain rooms at the estate may have looked like prior to the extensive damage to the estate that was caused by a fire in the 1930s. The independence I had whilst working was hugely beneficial – it made me trust my own work and judgement more, it allowed me for more analytical skills. I felt a huge improvement across my skill set. Furthermore, I feel that these developed skills are so important to my future studies which I can then point out in my Masters applications and soon after in job applications.
“The placement was also nothing like any other jobs or work experience I’ve had before, so it was really enjoyable to have something that was brand new to me, which again really helped me to gain skills that I didn’t have before.”
What did you enjoy most about your placement?
There were so many aspects of the placement that I enjoyed, but it was in particular the independence I enjoyed the most, but also knowing that there was support if I needed it, and that was really reassuring. I was also able to work at my own pace which did really help me learn more about my own time-management skills but also highlighting areas of work that I am now aware that I need to improve on. The placement was also nothing like any other jobs or work experience I’ve had before, so it was really enjoyable to have something that was brand new to me, which again really helped me to gain skills that I didn’t have before.
How has COVID19 affected your placement?
During the module, Covid-19 meant that it was incredibly hard to find and complete a placement, so unfortunately I had to choose an alternative assessment to finish the module. However, I was still determined to do a placement after the module had ended like I had first agreed to, and wanted to do so. By the time I had started the placement, Covid-19 restrictions had eased and we were back to a ‘normal’ way of living that we didn’t have for the past 18 months. However, my placement was done online which was likely to be the way it would have carried out regardless of the pandemic or not.
“Having your own goals and expectations will make you appear confident, and that is something that is hugely beneficial to finding a placement and future jobs.”
Do you have any tips for other students looking for/undertaking a placement?
The best thing to do is do lots of research and really let your placement leaders and or employers know what you want to do and what you want out of your placement. Having your own goals and expectations will make you appear confident, and that is something that is hugely beneficial to finding a placement and future jobs. Also, do not apply so much pressure on yourself; it’s easier said than done, but finding a placement can be really stressful so it’s important that try and ease yourself when you can. There will always be something out there for you, so do not freak yourself out and cause all of this stress. It’s not productive or healthy for you! Just remember to set expectations, set targets and boundaries and make sure you are doing what you want to do.