April 20, 2018, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham
Vision, value and buy-in: the benefits of hosting a PPN placement student
Alex Greenghalgh is one of the directors behind LionCard. This is a new enterprise, started by University of Nottingham students for Nottingham residents to get discounts from responsible, small businesses in the city. Alex took a bit of time out from his busy day to talk to PPN about how his business has benefitted from hosting postgraduate placements.
The Postgraduate Placements Nottingham (PPN) programme gives us access to talented people who can help grow our business, and in a way which affords us amazing value while still paying and rewarding them fairly. Another merit of the scheme, which we really appreciate, is that PPN handles the payroll and spares our new micro-business that additional administration.
“Strategically, the flexibility of PPN has enabled us to take a targeted approach to developing the business and to focus on the most transformative projects earlier than would have otherwise been practical.”
We’ve found PPN placement students to be really capable, and that we can treat them more as business partners than simply temporary staff. There just isn’t any need for constant hand-holding and we’ve been able to trust them to get on with projects on their own initiative. We’ve even included them in directors’ meetings to get their fresh perspectives on how the business should develop. We were actually taken aback and impressed by how much the students really cared about what we’re trying to achieve. We hadn’t automatically anticipated that level of buy-in from them. It’s not usual to find that a PPN placement student has gone above and beyond the basic project brief and achieved unexpectedly great results for us. It’s taught us the rewards that can come from allowing placements students to have a high degree of autonomy and space to work on our projects.
It was gratifying to hear that one of our placement students has now secured a full time job locally as a direct result of the experience he gained on placement with us. We’re really proud that we took the time to understand his career motivations and were able to support him in achieving his career goals.
For other businesses thinking about postgraduate placements I would recommend that they think about the timescales carefully. It is worth allowing plenty of time for placements to be advertised so as wide a range as possible of students can apply. Think about the skills you really need the student to have and what could be learned on the placement. We found the interview process very useful in selecting both candidates who demonstrated the right skills but also had the same values as us. Think about how the placement can play to the student’s strengths. For example, one of our projects focused on social media and raising the profile of the business to students – who better to do this than a student? We found it important to give the student room to grow in their placement.
For students I would strongly suggest you think about how much you will enjoy the placement. If you have a genuine interest in something then I think you’ll do far better and it really shows. Placements do offer wonderful opportunities to improve your CV and the chance to take ownership of a project which can influence your future career. Placements can give a great insight and understanding into how a business works. So choose a project which will excite and inspire you.