Note from Award Manager, Kathryn Foot: Laura completed the Award in 2012-2013. She blogged about her Award experience following successful completion in May 2013. Discover now how Laura felt the Award benefited her on her actual placement year:
The following is a reflective discussion of how the skills learnt during the Cardiff Award helped me to a) get my placement and b) on placement.
In my second year at Cardiff University (2012-2013) I completed the Cardiff Award; an employability award that encourages students to undertake work experience or get involved in extra-curricular activities, then recognises and rewards students for their efforts. In August 2013, as part of my 4 year psychology with professional placement degree, I went on to complete an industrial placement at Quest Partnership Ltd, a small occupational psychology firm in Gloucestershire.
Quest Partnership is made up of a team of Occupational Psychologists who apply psychological principles to the world of business by working with organisations to optimise employee potential. This is achieved by designing innovative solutions to help in staff selection, employee development and talent management that incorporate psychometric testing and behavioral exercises to assess and develop performance.
The Cardiff Award encouraged me to develop my skill set through the 6 workshops we were required to attend as part of the scheme. These included problem solving, becoming a global leader and mock assessment centres. These workshops proved particularly useful whilst on placement as I experienced a number of occasions and situations whereby initiative and effective team working was imperative to solving real commercial problems. For example, it proved particularly useful when designing a new company website for Quest called testandassess.co.uk with the help of an external website designer. I needed to produce 5 key messages for the cover page and to do so had to use problem solving to evoke the Unique Selling Points of the website, from a customer’s perspective. I did this by putting myself in their shoes and brainstorming ideas before categorising these into key themes and determining the right wording for the key statements.
“The Cardiff Award had given me a practice run as such for what to expect in a real life assessment centre.”
Similarly, the one on assessment centres, run by Enterprise-Rent-A-Car was useful as it gave me an insight into what to expect. Prior to securing my placement I was involved in a real life assessment centre whereby the consultants at Quest measured a number of different skills they required from the placement student. Unlike other graduates who have never had any experience of this form of assessment and recruitment selection process I felt confident on the day because I knew what to expect from the assessment centre and also had an awareness of some of skills, aside of academia, they are looking for from University students. As part of the Cardiff Award we also had to complete a numerical reasoning psychometric assessment. The format of the ability test was similar to what I had to do on my assessment centre so having had this experience and passed previously made me a little less nervous. The Cardiff Award had given me a practice run as such for what to expect in a real life assessment centre.
I also perceive that, had it not been for the Cardiff Award and the Careers and Employablity department, my CV and application would never have even made through to getting me to an assessment centre in the first place. The talk from Aimee Bateman about what employers are looking for on a CV and how best to sell yourself was inspiring, whilst the support and feedback from the Cardiff Award team was invaluable in helping me to create a concise, yet comprehensive, skills-focused CV that I could send out to potential placement organisations.
“Students should fully embrace the opportunity …as the skills you learn during the year are relevant to any organisation. Personally I perceive that the Cardiff Award was an important contributor to helping me secure my placement and also helping me to be the best I could whilst on placement. “
Whilst on placement, other transferable skills such as leadership, commercial awareness, self-engagement and drive that I had developed during the Cardiff Award were also advantageous. The Cardiff Award had prepared me with the foundation work skills making it far easier for me to develop and expand these further.
I strongly believe that the Cardiff Award has helped me to achieve my main aim of becoming well rounded, knowledgeable individual, with the skills to be a top performer for future employers and feel I have shown this through my year at Quest Partnership. It is endorsed by many industry organisations whom have helped to design its content, to ensure it has a real commercial context. Therefore students should fully embrace the opportunity if it arises as the skills you learn during the year are relevant to any organisation and personally I perceive that the Cardiff Award was an important contributor to helping me secure my placement and also helping me to be the best I could whilst on placement.
Thanks for reading!
Laura Pollock, 4th year Psychology student