Wed 4 Mar 20
For International Women’s Day 2020, we want to celebrate the achievements of women who have been on a year’s placement as part of their undergraduate degree at Essex. We’ve asked some of these students to share their experiences and hopes for the future.
Here, Amy Moore, who is studying Business and Management, talks about her placement with Greater Anglia as an Engineering Project Officer.
How did you feel when you first started your placement?
I was very nervous, but also incredibly excited. I was keen to not only make the most of the experience, but to really shine and prove myself. The first few weeks of my placement flew by, there was so much new knowledge to absorb with all of the new things I was experiencing, not just about the role, but also about the industry. During these first few weeks I kept a placement diary to reflect back on, which is something I’d really recommend to anyone embarking on a placement as it was great to recognise how far I’d progressed at the end of my placement, not just as a professional but also on a personal level.
What was your favourite part of your placement? What was something you didn’t enjoy?
The favourite part of my placement was the relationships I built. I met some really inspirational characters during the year, all of whom had an influence on me as I learnt from all of them. I also made some useful contacts for my future career and lifelong friendships.
One challenge I faced during my placement year was that at times I found others in the industry, usually men, didn’t take me seriously as a 19-year-old woman in a male-dominated industry. However, this shaped me as a person and made me both incredibly resilient, and increasingly confident. I didn’t quite realise how significant gender discrimination was in the railway but this has not only inspired my dissertation but encouraged an interest in empowering women within the industry.
What do you feel you gained from your placement?
My placement year has really enhanced my self-confidence, especially as I reflect back on how far I have progressed since the beginning of my placement year. Additionally, my placement year has helped me develop my communication skills, I feel as though I can now effectively communicate with anyone; from informal chats with colleagues to meetings with directors. My placement year has also given me a passion for the transport industry as well as extensive knowledge on the industry. Finally, I’ve gained great friendships from my placement year, alongside wonderful memories.
How do you think your placement experience might change your future?
The experience I gained working within the transport industry put me at a great advantage when applying for graduate roles within the industry. It also inspired a passion for the industry, which helped me to decide on the next steps of my career. In addition, the experiences and opportunities I gained during my placement year progressed both my professional and personal skills, making me a well-rounded candidate for future roles. Completing a placement year has opened so many doors for me and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had.
What’s next for you after graduation?
I’ve secured a place working for Go-Ahead on their Rail Graduate Management Programme. It is a rotational scheme and my first placement will be as a Graduate Station Manager, which is something I’d never have thought I’d be doing and is completely out of my comfort zone, but I couldn’t be more excited to try something new. I’m really looking forward to gaining experience in managing people in such as fast-paced environment.
What advice would you give to a woman searching for their placement now?
Firstly, believe in yourself! Building your confidence is important when applying for placements as processes can be quite competitive, and confidence really allows you to shine in interviews.
Secondly, make sure that you explore all of your options and step outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, smaller organisations provide the greatest development opportunities as they take on less students, you are able to experience one-on-one support and mentoring throughout the programme.
Finally, I would encourage students to really utilise the support and guidance made available to them. Essex is wonderful when it comes to career development and support, the placement team are especially helpful in guiding and supporting each student.