July 27, 2020, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

An ‘Agile’ Placement

This week we hear from Chidiogo Mbonu about the experience of doing a postgraduate placement during the Covid-19 lockdown.

I heard about The Graduate School’s Postgraduate Placements Nottingham (PPN) from someone in the Electrical Engineering department. I wanted to make the most of my time in Nottingham and didn’t want to focus solely on academia. I hoped to gain an international workplace experience and to have the opportunity to interact with the wonderful residents of Nottingham beyond the university.

A business meeting online during lockdown

My placement was with a web applications business called Senior Internet and began a few weeks before Christmas in 2019. I worked as a product development intern on a new product the company the was developing for professionals in fields that required Continuous Professional Development. Before the placement, I have always wondered if I would find a job role that marries my interest in engineering and entrepreneurship. I had never heard of product development, I was only familiar with project management and business development (job roles are constantly evolving) but it sounded like a role I would enjoy and indeed I did.

In the role, I worked closely with various teams in the company, the developers, the graphic designers, and business development. I performed tasks ranging from market research for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to creating user personas to testing the product and making improvement recommendations. I liked that my line manager gave me autonomy on certain tasks, but ensured that I understood the ‘why’ of the task and how it fit into achieving the overall project objective (if you are going to spend valuable time on a task, it is worth understanding the purpose of the task). The work was exciting because it wasn’t monotonous, and my colleagues were fun and energetic.

“My placement experience wasn’t what you would call ‘normal’, but I learnt valuable lessons every step of the way.”

The gregarious nature of my colleagues was helpful when life as we knew it changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A nationwide lockdown was imposed in the UK in March 2020, and we had to adapt to working from home and having online meetings. I think I learnt more about Senior Internet during the online meetings than when I had to physically go into the office (change is not always a bad thing).  I was lucky to have a placement where I could work from home, while many people in society were losing their jobs because remote work was not feasible for them. I also gained various skills which I would not have paid much attention to if the lockdown didn’t happen (we sometimes don’t realise that we have the ability to do something until we have no choice), skills like: creating boundaries and structures in my day, flexibility, resilience, and learning to use collaboration tools like Teams. While the lockdown had its downsides, it made my placement experience richer and more agile.

I would highly recommend PPN placements to postgraduate students, it is an opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, and make some extra cash. The best part is that you get to have fun while at it.  Don’t miss the chance to discover your world!

If you are a postgraduate researcher interested in doing a postgraduate placement or professional internship please contact our team for more information: ppnenquiries@nottingham.ac.uk or find us on LinkedIn.

Posted in Placements