by Alex Markovits, a student completing his Placement in the School

Hi everyone!

I hope you are staying safe and well.

I am a Business Management student at Swansea University, and as part of my Year in Industry, I am undertaking a six-month placement across the Finance, Marketing, and Planning & Operations teams in the School of Management at Swansea University. I started at the school in January and will be finishing in July. I have had a rich and varied experience while working for SoM. I spend two days with Marketing, two days with Finance, and one day with Planning & Operations. While working in Finance, my tasks have included checking and approving staff requisitions and expenses, raising recharges and responding to staff queries, in Marketing, I have collated and proofread staff profiles and conducted market research and I have supported Planning & Operations with various staff initiatives, such as agile working and staff engagement. I have also been lucky enough to attend training courses and workshops, including on Microsoft Office and customer service.

When I started at SoM, I knew that I would face challenges along the way. However, I could not have predicted that less than halfway through my placement, a global pandemic would make it unsafe to attend the office and eventually lead to a nationwide lockdown. Therefore, I have completed most of my placement from home. Initially, this was unknown territory for me as I had never worked from home before. However, I have found new ways of communicating with my colleagues. We are now catching up via Zoom, which felt strange at first but have got used to it and now enjoy doing so. As I live on my own, it is helpful to have this social interaction and helps to maintain a sense of normality in these unusual times. There has also been the opportunity to maintain group interaction, and I have enjoyed the weekly coffee mornings and afternoon teas. This has given me the opportunity to interact with the staff I would not normally cross paths with and is the next best thing to chance meetings that take place in the office throughout the day in normal times.

Even though I obviously would rather have completed my placement in the office and I am sad that I won’t be seeing my colleagues for some time, I am very grateful that SoM has allowed me to continue my placement from home, especially as many of my friends undertaking placements have been furloughed. In fact, this period has benefited me as it has increased my ability to work independently. As my days have been less structured than when I was in the office, I have needed to prioritise my work more between the different departments. Even on days where I am scheduled to work with a particular department, I have learnt to pick up work from other departments when work in that department is quiet. Maintaining structure is particularly important for me as I am on the autism spectrum, and so this is vital in maintaining my motivation and therefore my productivity.

Overall, I have very much enjoyed my experience working in SOM. I am lucky not just to have part of three great teams, but part of a strong, tight-knit community who have been really supportive in these difficult times. I am hoping that once the pandemic is over, I will get the opportunity to thank them in person. While the situation surrounding COVID-19 has been far from ideal, the challenges and obstacles it has created has certainly increased my resilience, and I can take this skill forward in the future.

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone thinking of taking a year in industry in the future, it would be to ensure that you say yes to the opportunity that comes your way, whether it be to learn a new skill or to meet new people. While you will be set day-to-day tasks, you must also seek out other ways to further your development, as doing so has allowed me to reap the full benefits of doing a placement and will serve me well in the future. From September, I will be returning to Swansea University School of Management as a final year student, and however this takes place, I feel that my placement experience has turned me into a more rounded individual compared to a year ago. 

Blog written by: Alex Markovits, a student completing his Placement in the School
Date published: 26/05/2020