Sign in

04 Nov 2019

Adam Harris has recently completed a twelve-month undergraduate placement with MIS-AMS in the New Business and Implementation teams and has returned to finish his BSc Hons degree at Sheffield Hallam University in Computer Security and Forensics. This month we decided to shine a spotlight on student placements and what they mean to the students who undertake them, the university and to employers. Here we speak to both Adam and his tutor Mark Jacobi, deputy head of department for student experience about what the last twelve months has meant.

Mark, what makes a really good student placement? 

We like students to be completely immersed in the organisation, so they get a really good understanding of how it’s structured, who their clients are and what the roles and responsibilities of other staff are. This way they get to understand the role that IT and IT professionals play in the business. It also helps them to work out where their own personal strengths and interests lie.

MIS-AMS has fulfilled those requirements and much more, exposing Adam to all aspects of the business and their clients and treating him like any other member of staff. Adam has received support from not just his manager but from across the whole business and been given opportunities that have enabled him to build a range of skills.

Are there certain roles that students get pigeon-holed into?

There is a temptation for organisations to use a placement student to fill gaps in teams, typically in IT support roles. While this still provides some useful experience for the student, universities prefer the placement year to be a learning experience, so we like them to be able to ask questions, to be able to explore aspects of technology or the business that interests them. It’s much better if they have the opportunity to spend time working on a range of projects with both experts in their field and groups of staff who have different skills.

Are students positive about their working experience?

Most students come back from an industrial placement year and tell us that they learnt more in that one year than they did in any year at university. I can always tell which students on my final year have been on placement because the breadth of their knowledge has expanded greatly. They are generally also more highly motivated and focussed on achieving a better grade.

How important is a placement to the students and to their future employers?

Students that have been part of an industry placement are able to stand-out when they are applying for graduate roles when they leave the university. They will have a year’s experience on their CV and plenty of examples of how they have applied their technical and professional skills in a real work environment. It’s often these more general professional skills that make the difference; team working, time management, decision making, commercial experience, and working with clients. Academia and grades are important, but the placement gives them an ‘all round’ skill set that employers look for.  From an organisations point of view, taking on a graduate with a year’s industrial experience takes some of the risk out of recruitment. You know that this person understands what is expected in a work environment and should be reliable and professional.

Adam, what has 14 months at MIS-AMS meant to your studies and future employment prospects?

The placement has helped to improve my focus and drive, which will be vital for the completion of my dissertation. It also gave me a true feel for office life, and as a result of spending 14 months living it, the transition from student to full time worker won’t be a shock to the system as I understand what’s coming! MIS-AMS also set me up for the future by teaching me many important skills, as well as reminding me of the importance of teamwork. We often work alone as students, so it’s been nice to work with a team.

Why was MIS-AMS such a great place to work?

I don’t think I could have picked a better company to do my placement with if I tried! I was made to feel welcome at MIS-AMS from the moment I got there to the second I left.  There’s a culture at MIS-AMS that I truly fell in love with. Everyone is willing to help everybody with their work. If you’re having an issue with a piece of work, someone will come and sit with you and walk you through whatever is wrong. And if neither of you understand, then you work together to find a solution. I really feel as though the whole experience has set me up for whatever next year brings.

What did having a student in the team bring to MIS-AMS?

"Having a student in the team brings a different dimension to the workforce. Adam proved himself as a great asset bringing newer and fresher ways of thinking, whilst also allowing us as a business to feel positive about the fact we are developing students and giving them a better start post university.  Since starting the placement program, we are pleased to say all our placement students have got a job after university either with us or another company". - Chris McLaughlin, Managing Director.

Scroll Up