The Faculty Marketing & Web Team has had a placement student for two years in a row now. Both our students have come from within our university and worked with us as Marketing Assistants. Placements are something we are really proud of here at Bath and working in marketing, I’ve spent a lot of my time hearing from our students and creating materials about the scheme. So, I’m well versed in the benefits placements can have for students, but what I’m so aware of now is how much the scheme benefits the employer.
I’ve seen first-hand the fresh insight, increased delivery capacity, and new digital skills placement students can bring to a team. For us, this has resulted in some really tangible changes in growing our social media audience and in developing outreach materials for schools. But beyond that, having a fresh face can improve team dynamics. We’ve found the support that role offers reduces stress on team members. This helps us to be more creative, offer more support to our colleagues outside our team and dedicate more time to actually getting to the root of problems.
This year, I’ve had the pleasure to line manage our placement student, Nikki. Nikki has managed our social media, used her design eye to redo our student recruitment presentations, and provided key research and reports. She’s achieved all this against a backdrop of a massively tumultuous year. A global pandemic has seen us pack up the office and not know when we’ll return. Since April, Nikki and I have been working remotely on a seven-hour time difference. It goes without saying, I’m incredibly proud of Nikki’s resilience and adaptability.
For me, the experience of line managing such an intelligent and capable person has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve seen my investment in training Nikki up, setting goals and responsibilities, returned to me tenfold. At the beginning of her time with us I thought Nikki would need much more support than she did. Giving Nikki the space to speak up has been a major lesson for me. The experience has also helped me to reflect on my own role as an employee. I’m a lot more aware of the stresses and strains my boss may be under and of how best to keep them informed of my work.
What Nikki has gained from her experience is her story to tell. From my vantage point, I’ve seen her develop her technical skills, grow in confidence, and make an artform out of providing support to her colleagues. I’ve seen her navigate all those subtle skills you can only develop from being around internal office politics. What has really impressed me though, is how Nikki has always taken on feedback, increased her responsibility when asked, and so willingly stepped outside of her comfort zone. As she returns to her studies and eventually graduates, there’s no doubt in my mind she’ll continue to learn and achieve.
As I have no concerns as to Nikki’s abilities, when I look forward to her career my hopes look to who her future colleagues will be. I hope her senior colleagues will be generous with their time and share their skills with her. I hope she is given a platform to speak up and use her intelligent and reflective voice. I hope Nikki finds role models and mentors, people she can confide in and people who will push her forward. Because talent can’t succeed by itself, it needs to be nurtured by a supportive and aspirational work environment. I hope we’ve given Nikki a taste of this during her time with us.