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My placement journey

Third-year psychology student, Amber Chan, shares her experience of going on a professional placement.

A bit about me

I’m Amber, an international student from Hong Kong, and I am studying Psychology BSc (Hons) with a professional placement year. I am halfway through my placement, and I have really enjoyed my work so far. If you’re considering doing psychology with a placement, it’s important to pick the placement option when you apply. It’s rare to be able to change once you’ve started your course.

Beginning my journey

Each department has a placement team dedicated to helping students. The Psychology Department’s placement team amasses hundreds of opportunities for us to browse. This means you don’t need to find your own opportunities, although you still can if you prefer. Having this list was a big bonus since it saved me lots of stress! You can also access previous students’ written reports on their placements. This is useful if you’re looking for a glimpse into what different types of placements might be like before you apply.

Preparation sessions

Our cohort first met the placement team at the end of first year. They organised a session on the support we’d receive from them in year two and outlined what we could do to prepare before then. In my second year, the team organised placement help sessions once or twice a month. They started with a brief timeline for applications, then scheduled sessions including tips on interviews, CVs and cover letters. Occasionally, previous placement students were invited to speak about their experiences of applying to and being on placement. The team also gave us advice on doing voluntary work, joining research apprenticeships at Bath and other activities that could strengthen our applications.

Applying for placements

As per the placement team’s suggestion, I started looking into opportunities in October of my second year. I was certain I wanted clinical work, so I narrowed my focus on this. I bookmarked around ten to twenty opportunities and kept an eye on their deadlines. It was slightly stressful to juggle this alongside my coursework, but it felt feasible so long as I dedicated around half an hour a day to the application process. Eventually, I drafted and sent off two applications and was invited to interview for both. It’s important to note that it’s University policy that placement students accept the first offer they receive. This ensures that other students have plentiful opportunities as well. So, it’s important only to apply for roles you definitely see yourself being happy in for at least 30 weeks, since this is the minimum length of a placement.

The placement application process is different for everyone: I know someone who confirmed their placement in October, and someone who only did in May!

Individual support and securing my placement

In every session, the placement team would emphasise that one-on-one career support was available. So, shortly after I was invited to interview, I booked a practice session. During the practice interview, I couldn’t say a word! My placement supervisor was very understanding and booked another slot with me so I could collect myself before I tried again. Our second session was extremely helpful. We conducted it as if it was the actual interview, and my supervisor pointed out what I did well and what I could improve on. She also gave me a framework which I could reference when replying to questions (the STAR technique). These came in handy at my actual interview, and I was notified that I had been accepted for the position in the 2023-24 academic year.

Being on placement and looking back

As I said, I’m halfway through my placement, now. I’ve been assigned a university placement tutor, and they’ll meet with me and my placement supervisor to see how I’m getting on. In addition, the placement team is also holding sessions on coursework for the year. My experience with the placement team has been delightful. They have been highly supportive, and this has been an integral and meaningful part of my course.

Enhance your employability with a professional placement

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