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Gaining new skills and insights during my placement at Gymshark

BSc (Hons) Psychology student and winner of the 'Outstanding Contribution of the Year' placement award, Richard Lee, talks about his experience at Gymshark.

Two young men stood next to the Gymshark logo and strapline 'united we sweat' painted on a dark blue shipping container.
Richard (right) spent his placement at Gymshark, working in areas like consumer insights and market research.

I did my placement at Gymshark, a company that specialises in modern sportswear, as a Brand Research Intern.

I applied for the role because I was really into the YouTube fitness scene when I was younger, and Gymshark was one of the brands that everyone would wear. I knew the brand well and was confident that I could contribute a lot of insight as a member of the gym community myself.

I was really interested in the field of consumer insights and market research, particularly the commercial side of psychology. I knew straight away that this placement was ideal for me, and now, after finishing it, I know that initial feeling was right.

I was also able to see how Gymshark evolved from being a start-up to becoming a well-known brand.

Big achievements during my placement

When I first started, I was given a lot of responsibility.

There were many occasions where I was involved in very complicated projects; it was very nerve-racking, but my manager and supervisors gave me confidence by telling me to ‘just go for it'.

I know it sounds very cliché, but it was a real compliment to have stakeholders and team members think of me as more than ‘just an intern’. That felt like a real achievement.

I was exposed to many high-level projects, but my manager and team members were very supportive. I managed to develop my levels of professionalism, confidence, and skills really quickly because of this. I believe that this really contributed to my award win, which is also one of my proudest achievements throughout my placement.

Using my degree during my placement

Studying BSc (Hons) Psychology - 4 years with work placement at Bath gave me a strong research and analytics skillset.

My degree is highly focused on research, so I understood lots of the research concepts my colleagues used. My analytical skills were good as well - I was told this by the people I was working with, too!

Because of all the lab reports and pseudo experiments I have done, I was able to efficiently synthesise data and insights to formulate conclusions.

Although what I learnt was based in an academic setting, these skills were transferable, and this placement allowed me to build on what I’ve learnt about how to analyse data in a commercial setting.

Learning things I couldn't at university

When I went for my placement, I thought I would develop a lot of my research skills through high-level projects.

What I got exposed to, which I didn’t expect, was a lot of soft skills. I gained experience in things like stakeholder management and working with different personalities; the sorts of things you learn at work.

Most importantly, I learnt to effectively convey information in presentations and in the way I communicate. I think that hard skills can be taught to anyone, but soft skills cannot be replaced. You have to learn and grow them by doing them.

Bath life

I love living in Bath. I come from Singapore, which is very different!

Singapore is more of a cityscape with huge buildings everywhere, whereas Bath is quieter; it's more like a town than a city. Living in a completely different place is one of the biggest things I wanted to get more exposure to.

Bath is also very safe; it really makes me feel at home and like I belong here

My advice to students considering a placement

Definitely do a placement!

It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. Love it or hate it, it’s only going to be useful for you. You get to learn so many skills and be exposed to so many experiences.

My advice for anyone undertaking a placement would be to make connections. Not like the ‘LinkedIn way’, which feels very transactional, but genuinely get to know people and connect with them. It’s always good to have not just simple connections, but actual friendships during your placement.

Secondly, always be on the lookout for opportunities. Get involved and never stop learning. Even in what might seem like a mundane task, think about what you can learn from it. In the end, a placement is what you make out of it.

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