My placement year at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has been the best learning experience I’ve had to date. From starting in a user research role and moving into a user experience design role, I have learned a lot.
Don’t get me wrong; coming into a role with little to no experience was very overwhelming, but with the help of colleagues and my determination to make the most out of every opportunity, it has been incredibly worthwhile.
Over the year I have been given real responsibility; working in collaborative teams and with external clients. I have worked on the prescription prepayment certificate service and a nursing campaign. I also contributed research to several projects; including the Low Income Scheme, Manage Your Service, and Total Loss Recovery.
While in the design role I worked on a nursing campaign. The project aims to get people back into primary care roles, specifically general practice nursing. My role involved looking at the user journeys and designing a solution to meet their needs; working closely with a user researcher, front end developers, and a content designer. As this was a WordPress solution designed for an external client, we were also able to be a bit more creative in how it was designed.
Having the opportunity to work with an external client was an important milestone for my career, on both a personal and professional level.
Seeing the solutions I have designed being built and used is very satisfying. My biggest take away from my year at the NHSBSA is my boost in self-awareness; I’m more aware of my skills and ability, and where I need to develop further as I develop my career.
Why student placements are important
Completing a placement has been very beneficial for me in many ways; my confidence has grown massively, I’ve gained a job out of it, and I know what career I want to pursue after university.
What surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed the user experience design role. I never thought of myself as a creative person, but feedback from my colleagues proved otherwise. I learned that the perception you have of your talents are not always correct, and it’s important to take feedback on board and try something new – even if it’s outside of your comfort zone. That’s where you learn the most.
Like many students, I started my placement with the daunting thought of not knowing what I wanted to do after university, but completing a placement at the NHSBSA helped me figure this out. It’s a huge relief to go into my final year of university knowing I don’t have to worry about finding a job in the competitive graduate jobs market. I can focus on my dissertation and part-time work.
I think it’s important for organisations to see the value in establishing a student placement programme. Students can play an essential part in recruitment strategies. They help businesses bring in fresh skills and talent with the latest industry knowledge, and establish valuable connections with universities. It’s also an opportunity for employees to develop their mentoring skills and guide someone to become a fitting part of the organisation, usually at a lower cost.
If you’re a student contemplating a placement, I’d urge you to go for it! You’ll be the one reaping the rewards. It’s a great way to make a valuable connection with an organisation and colleagues for the future, opening up job opportunities and increasing your chances of employment after university.