September 18, 2023, by Rebekah

Placement with Vanclaron CHATS CIC

By Ziqing Huang, 1st year postgraduate student with visual impairment

During the spring term, I was very happy that I got this opportunity of completing 10 weeks of placement as a well-being Outreach Case Worker in the non-profit organization Vanclaron CHATS CIC, where I met passionate and supportive colleagues. It seemed like a small and beautiful harbour in which I had an unforgettable and wonderful experience in a non-native language working environment.

Application Process

I received a university email from my course leader about the spring placement. Compared to other different vacancy opportunities, I finally determined to apply for the placement in Vanclaron CHATS and filled out the online placement application form. I made this decision because I took more interest in social service work, and I had some psychological knowledge that meet the job description of the employer. Additionally, I heard that the school department and this organization would offer reasonable adjustments from the application to the completion of the placement. This was very important to me, reducing my application pressure and giving me more motivation to envision my inclusive workplace. About two weeks later, I received the university email that I was informed that I entered the interview stage. Then I got another email from the employer asking me to design a mental health project and do a presentation when attending the interview. I only had one day to prepare it. I thoughts it was too formal and hard to prepare for the interview. However, I talked to myself: “Do it, try your best for your passion.” Finally, I felt excited and I successfully got the placement among dozens of candidates.

My experience on placement

Vanclaron CHATS is dedicated to serving the vulnerable community in mental health and well-being. I felt satisfied that my three personal work objectives have been reached. One was to adapt to the full English working environment. The second one was to further discover my potential to contribute to the mental health and well-being of people. The last one was to get close to the vulnerable community and observe their living conditions, leading me to help these different groups of people with strong faith now and in the future. I designed two projects: one project was for women with depression, and the other one was for disabled university students. I successfully recommend my project for disabled university students to the well-being team of the University of Nottingham.

Besides, I started to learn from observation. I had a deep impression of my colleagues and learned good qualities from them. For example, I remembered the first time I attended their weekly meeting. I noticed one of the senior colleagues was the last one to leave the office for locking the door of the office after other colleagues went to the meeting room. I was touched by the looked small conduct that showed respect and initiative. I also observed some differences between the working meeting in this organization and that I attended before in my home country. I felt relaxed and fulfilled in the meeting, which helps me increase my confidence to work as a full-time employee in the future.

Linguistic and communication challenges

During the placement period, I felt the great culture and values in the office. I was allowed to invest my time and energy in designing the project for the disabled group I took more interest in. While doing this project, I had much more motivation and enthusiasm, improving my ability to design the project based on the SMART principles. Absolutely, my project management ability was improved, such as the aspects of doing research to find the pain point of clients and offering evidence-based solutions to them. In the meanwhile, I was aware of the challenges I had to overcome such as my spoken English and communication with the different teams of our university that might be interested in my project. Fortunately, I did all I can do and strived the cooperation with the well-being team. Thus, I really appreciate this growth experience.

Final tips and advice

  • Be honest with your teammates and supervisor, frankly expressing your needs and challenges. You will feel the warmth and sincerity of other people.
  • Be proactive in everything you are curious about and invest your time, capability and other resources. A new world will broaden your horizon.
  • Be confident, you are unique and do your best to reach your goal, no matter how the outcome is. Your experience in the process is most important.
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