March 21, 2023, by Rebekah

My Placement at Pathway Housing Solutions

By Suvetha Kamalanathan, 3rd Year Nottingham University Business School student 

An Overview:

During the autumn Semester, I was fortunate enough to complete a placement with Pathway Housing Solutions (PHS) as a Research Assistant. PHS is a non-profit organisation committed to ensuring that racialised minorities in Nottingham have access to affordable and safe housing (as they are repeatedly overrepresented in homelessness data and disproportionally impacted by housing disadvantage). My role comprised primarily of designing and conducting interviews (often, with non-white students) to explore individuals’ experiences in relation to housing amidst the cost of living crisis.

The Application Process:

I learnt about this opportunity via an email advertising the Faculty of Social Sciences Placement Programme, comprising a range of interesting placement opportunities. I was drawn to this placement in particular as PHS’ work is necessary and meaningful (as the persistence of racial disadvantage in the housing system demands the action of civil society actors).

The first stage of the application process was the completion of a Microsoft form, comprising of an online CV submission and two relatively simple, but important questions: (1) Why are you interested in undertaking this placement? and (2) Why are you suitable for this role? (i.e. relevant skills and experience). This was followed by a short Teams interview (10-15 minutes). This resembled a causal conversation, and the interviewer was very friendly – so, do not worry too much!; in this, we discussed the nature of the role and the issues affiliated with race and housing in more depth.

The Experience itself:

The placement was dynamic and engaging, such that I completed a variety of tasks (as well as my primary responsibility: conducting interviews and focus groups). For example, I (alongside the student research team) were given the opportunity to review an unpublished report discussing housing disadvantage among ethnic minorities. We did this via offering collective feedback on areas requiring clarification and offering further discussion points to ensure its accessibility to non-expert audiences.

As mentioned above, I worked alongside a team of student researchers; this ensured that the workload was manageable – and that we had fun! In fact, collaboration was integral to this experience.  For example, we were given the exciting opportunity to present the initial findings of our interviews at a Black History Month event on ‘Black and Minority Communities’ Housing Struggles’. To ensure the presentation of the most significant conclusions, we had to ensure the findings of our individual interviews were analysed in conjunction (such that we could identify cross-interview trends).

Importantly, the event itself was hugely insightful. This is as we were able to present to and discuss the racial issues affiliated with housing, with a range of individuals (e.g. city council members, professors, residents) who had varying, valuable contributions.

Moreover, this experience was integral to my personal development as I was able to challenge my fear related to interviewing (primarily due to it’s unfamiliarity). This was largely due to the support I received from the supervising professor at the University of Nottingham (Dr Nicholas Clare). For example. he held sessions on interview technique and research design, as well as checking in at regular intervals. Moreover, he emphasised the importance of continual reflection, and it was this that fuelled the conduction of increasingly authentic and productive interviews. This is because I was able to recognise the importance of prioritising the fluidity of the conversation over rigidly following the pre-designed interview schedule.

Overall, this experience was incredibly rewarding and I gained a wealth of experience and confidence. So, if you’re interested in undertaking a placement with PHS, do not hesitate to apply!


  • Stay engaged – placements are fantastic opportunities to learn and gain confidence in work-based settings (so make the most of it!)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you want to get the most out of the experience, so use all the contacts available to you!


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