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Discovering a placement, winning an award, and securing a graduate job: Claudia’s story

From not knowing what she wanted to do after her Sociology degree, Claudia is ready for the first step in her career after her College of Policing placement.

A young woman (Claudia) stood outside of an office building.
Claudia did her professional placement with the College of Policing, working from their office in London.

BSc (Hons) Sociology student Claudia speaks about why she chose to do a professional placement as part of her degree, the options it has given her ahead of graduation, and her successes while working for the College of Policing.

Finding out why a placement was right for me

When I decided to study at Bath, I wasn’t actually going to do a placement. I chose the 3-year option of BSc (Hons) Sociology, but once I started and found out more, I decided to change to the 4-year with a professional placement.

This was partly because my classmates and friends were all planning to do placements and partly because, through speaking to a peer mentor and doing some research, I became more aware of what it was and what it could do for my skills and experience.

It was great to have the flexibility to make that choice. It’s ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done and something I’d recommend to anyone.

Finding the right place

Once I’d got into the position to pick my placement, there were loads of options. The placements team at Bath advertises lots of opportunities through a portal, which I logged into every day!

This is where I found the Civil Service’s Government Social Research (GSR) internship scheme. It’s a bit unusual, as you don’t apply for a set ‘job’; they instead ask you to complete a series of tests that are followed by an interview. If they accept you, they assign a role suited to your skills. The process included some tests, mainly in maths and problem-solving, and an interview. As Bath students regularly do this, I received bespoke training from my placements officer to help me prepare.

I was successful and got offered a position in the College of Policing as a Social Research Intern, which I was really happy about.

I’ve finished my placement now and have been accepted for the Government Social Research Scheme – which is a graduate scheme within the Civil Service. I found out about this, and applied for it, during my placement. It’s a great opportunity to start my career and was only possible because of my placement.

‘I’m happy to know that I have a place on the Government Social Research Scheme ahead of graduation. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after my degree. My placement helped me realise what is available and allowed me to find something I enjoy.’
Claudia BSc (Hons) Sociology with professional placement (2024)

A varied and interesting job

It sounds cliché, but my role was really varied. I was able to try different tasks and had a lot of freedom to pursue things that interested me within the job.

I worked in a small team alongside another Social Research Intern and some more senior researcher staff members, as well as our team leader.

Through the bulk of my placement, we worked together on a project called the Practice Bank. Essentially, it’s a database that’s designed to promote practice sharing among the crime reduction sector across the country.

It takes initiatives - like community schemes or changes to ways of working - and makes them available as case studies for others to read and take into their own workplace. This was a completely new thing when I started, so it’s something I’ve been a big part of from its beginning.

My role was to review the submissions the forces gave us, shortlist them and, with the rest of the team, create resources for the portal.

Once we were happy, these would go onto the portal, which is open to people in the sector cross the UK and the general public. It's rewarding to know that I was part of this.

But, like I said, I was also able to work on things that were within topics I was interested in before starting my placement – one being violence against women and girls. I was able to research this topic by attending focus groups and reading reports, and use my qualitative and quantitative skills to analyse data on criminal activity of this type.

Adding an award to my CV

Winning the Gold CEO Commendation Award for the Practice Bank project was amazing. I can remember logging on one morning to find the email saying that we’d won. It was a complete surprise; I didn’t even know we’d been nominated as a team!

Our Product Leader put us forward for it. It was fantastic to know that we’d been recognised for what we’d been doing and knowing that it was making a difference. It felt a bit surreal!

It’s definitely a helpful thing to put on my CV – it looks great to have a placement and the award to say why it was a success.

Getting ready for my next step

I’m really happy to know that I have a place on the Government Social Research Scheme ahead of graduation.

Basically, the scheme means I will work within the Civil Service, hopefully in the team I was with during my placement, once I finish university.

To get onto it, I had to do an exam and complete an interview. I did this during my placement and was able to use what I’d been learning while working. I was successful and am looking forward to starting my career in a sector I know and like.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after my degree when I started. My placement helped me realise what is available and allowed me to find something I enjoy.

Going forward, I want to work in social research, so this is a great place to start.

Advice for anyone considering studying at Bath

Be really open-minded. Go to the talks, find out what’s available and get involved if it sounds interesting to you.

Doing a placement is something I didn’t know much about at the start, but it’s been the best thing for me.

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