October 8, 2020, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

Discovering yourself through doing a placement

This week we hear from Uche Ugwu about the experience of doing a Researcher Academy postgraduate placement during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Green earth with process arrows

“I have always been interested in the environment and sustainability”

I first heard about the Researcher Academy’s Postgraduate Placements from the university’s representative in my country, Nigeria. She encouraged me to make the most of my time in Nottingham by taking advantage of all the opportunities available to develop myself and gain useful transferable skills.

I came to Nottingham with that mindset and it has served me well. I applied to two other placements before applying for the Circular Economy Implementation Research project with BGB Innovation. Of all the placements I applied to, I felt the least qualified for the position at BGB Innovation, but I have always been interested in the environment and sustainability, so I applied anyway. The interview for the placement was scheduled for the week the UK went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was moved online. I found that I was not as nervous as I thought I would be with the video interview and was able to portray my enthusiasm for the role and I eventually got the job.

The company put me in complete control of my work, I got to decide the timeline for completion, the aspects of the circular economy I would research and how I would structure my final report. Knowing that the company had faith in me and my ability to deliver, I was motivated to put in my best effort. Due to the pandemic I never got to go into the office or physically meet anyone at BGB Innovation, but I had bi-weekly video meetings with the company’s commercial director. I would prepare a presentation each time to brief him of my findings and my progress.

I learnt a lot during my placement. It was a great opportunity to apply the skills gained from conducting academic research to a real-life situation. I also had to learn to adapt to working and collaborating remotely, a skill that will certainly be of great importance in the coming years. The best thing about the placement was knowing that the company trusted me to deliver, the autonomy I was given in completing my tasks greatly improved my self-confidence. I was also able to improve my communication skills from the bi-weekly presentations and preparing the report. The commercial director was so pleased with my performance that he asked me to present to the company’s CEO and again to the entire board of directors, things I would have been too nervous to agree to in the past.

I highly recommend the Researcher Academy’s placements to postgraduates at the university. They are a great opportunity to develop your skills, network with industry players and learn new things. You’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of achieving when given the chance!

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