March 21, 2023, by Rebekah
My Placement with Nottingham Citizens
by Tamika Ofori-Mensah, Politics and International Relations student.
During the autumn term, I took on a placement opportunity to work with Nottingham Citizens, an alliance of communities and organizations working together to boost the common good. I was aware of the injustices in the communities in Nottingham and back home in London. I knew that it was vital to do what I could to improve the lives of others. I strongly feel that being a part of the School of Politics and International Relations, I have been exposed to the gradual change that organizations such as Nottingham citizens can bring forth and knew right away that being a Campaign Action Team member would be a dream come true. The few months that I have been working with the organization gave me greater insight into the issues that communities face today, particularly in education. All this will be shared today!
The application and interview process
The application for the placement was quick and easy to complete. I received a few emails announcing the availability of numerous placement opportunities for the autumn term and seized the opportunity as quickly as I could. I read the description of the role. The organization’s core beliefs and goals are in line with my own. The only difference is that I will finally be taking action. Within a few days, I was invited to an interview. I met the leading community organizer to discuss what the role entails and what I aim to achieve along with the team. I then met with other students who were also accepted and found it refreshing to connect with more individuals with similar aspirations to me. Such moments make applying for opportunities like this worthwhile. In addition to the skills and experience you gain; you can make meaningful and lovely connections.
My placement experience
On the first day of my placement as a Campaign Action Team member, we had a meeting in a church. We introduced ourselves to one another and discussed our aims at the end of our placement experience. It was lovely to find that these aims were carefully thought out and articulated well. Not only did we all have goals, but we also knew exactly how they could be achieved and the amount of time it would take to do so.
Following that, we discussed in groups the growing issue of mental health in universities. Despite our different stories, Covid-19 was the most significant event that affected students’ mental health. Access to student mental health services in person was difficult due to the pandemic and a surge in students trying to access these online services. We found we needed a solution because students were still suffering from this event’s impact. Another key fact we found was that it would be beneficial to include opportunities such as Career Fairs or opportunities to connect with our lecturers. This is because, at university, we have trouble forming interpersonal connections with those we are taught by. Whether it is due to education or individual circumstances, a lack of rapport makes it difficult and challenging for us to communicate openly about our struggles.
Challenges I faced
A challenge I faced initially whilst on this placement was balancing my time between university deadlines and summarizing notes. I also had to carry out tasks such as my research for the placement. I found that using the university’s careers and advice service helped me. I created a routine for myself. To decide which days, I would spend working on which one, I made a timetable. I dedicated some alone time to help my mental health as this was an especially significant topic for us. This helped me dramatically. I also struggled sometimes to find students who were open to taking part in any surveys and questionnaires that I created. This was to assist with the research we were carrying out. Societies were a suitable place to start. It was a successful outcome; both the students and leaders were willing to answer any questions I had, for which I am deeply grateful. I also created a few more connections along the way.
I recommend you take advantage of the placement opportunities available each semester. This is because I feel I have grown as an individual; I have learnt so much about myself and others from this opportunity. I have met wonderful individuals and think it would give you an edge over other applicants in your future career paths if you had some experience and connections. Do not be afraid to be yourself, and do not be afraid to ask for any help or advice when you take these opportunities. There is always someone out there who will be willing to offer you guidance and support. Go for it, I believe in you!
For anyone interested in working with Nottingham Citizens, whom I highly recommend, the link to their website is here.
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