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Bournemouth University placement students bring fresh perspective to local businesses

Posted on: 01/12/2021

At Bournemouth University (BU) we know how important employability is to students. That’s why all our undergraduate degrees – and many of our postgraduate degrees – offer the chance of undertaking a placement. They give students the chance to place their learning into context, seeing how their studies relate to the industry in which they hope to operate. However, they also provide the placement company with considerable advantages too – bringing a fresh perspective and the latest thinking into the organisation, as well as providing support for short-term projects or a safer way to attempt to expand a business.

Two BU students who have recently completed placements are Katie Smith, a BSc (Hons) Sport management student, and Patrick Day, from our Meng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree. We caught up with them recently to find out how their placements have been of benefit to both them and their placement companies.

Katie spent her placement at Reid Bikes, a global cycle business with roots in Australia and a head office in Poole and enjoyed the experience of being part of a small marketing team. “Working for a smaller business meant that I quickly became part of the team, and had lots of responsibility from the get-go,” she says. “It meant I was able to get involved with a lot of different projects during my time there, which was great.

Katie’s success came as no surprise to Reid Bikes’ Marketing Manager, Kyle Gouveia, himself a BU graduate. “I undertook a placement year as part of my degree at BU, so I already knew the importance of getting practical experience in the workplace,” he says. “When I grew my role at Reid to the point where I needed an assistant, I couldn’t think if a more rewarding way to hire someone than by reaching out to BU to hire a placement student.”

Katie was the second placement student to work at Reid, and Kyle feels it is a system that is working well for the organisation. “I can honestly say that I couldn’t have made a wiser decision,” he says of the experience. “The injection of youth and new perspectives that a placement student provides has been incredibly valuable to our business.

As well as smaller teams, BU placement students are able to make an impact at larger organisations. Patrick Day, a Meng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering student, spent his placement year with ASM Assembly Systems in Weymouth, the world’s largest supplier of best-in-class equipment for the electronics industry.

I was particularly attracted to their diverse work, which matched my ambitions to gain experience with industry experts in the technology field,” says Patrick of the reasons for his choice of placement company. “My days were varied, including design work, practical builds, testing, team meetings, and building relationships with suppliers, customers and colleagues.

During his time at ASM, Patrick benefitted from a supportive and nurturing culture, which saw him provided with training and support whenever it was needed. He undertook product and CAD training, as well as individual development based on his own development and skills.

Ashley Chalker, Project Manager at ASM, is clear about the benefits that placement students can bring to an organisation such as ASM. “As a company, we embrace new ideas and fresh approaches to engineering and technical challenges, and placement students embody that approach,” he says.

In particular, Patrick stood out thanks to his willingness to undertake a wide range of projects, and the way he was able to apply his strong engineering skills. Our customers have high expectations and can make challenging requests, but we knew that Patrick’s positive attitude and willingness to learn would be a great asset.

Ashley feels that a solid support structure is key to getting the most out of a placement student, especially at a larger organisation like ASM. “We allocate a mentor to placement students, to make sure they are supported to develop their skills to meet our business challenges. This means they are able to make a fuller contribution, as we help to build on their business and technical knowledge throughout the year.

As businesses look to build back after a challenging year, a placement student can represent a chance to bring new skills into an organisation on a short-term basis and – as the experiences of both Katie and Patrick show – can make a difference to businesses of any size.

To find out more please contact David O’Neill, BU Placement Development Adviser:
Email: oneilldav@bournemouth.ac.uk
Mobile: 07713089348

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