BSc International Development

Placement Reports

Name: Jessica Frances Hughes-Pratt

Programme: BSc International Development with an Industrial Placement Year - currently in third year

Placement: HELP Environment project, Otra Cosa charity in Peru

Jessica Frances Hughes-Pratt

Jessica Frances Hughes-Pratt, current part 3 BSc International development student, recently finished working in Peru for the Otra Cosa charity on their HELP Environment project as part of her placement year. Jessica's role was to raise awareness of recycling and sustainable farming methods in school communities, increasing the social welfare of those involved in the scheme and the surrounding communities.

Thrilled with her placement, and pleased to see the difference that she has made, Jessica said: "I have been helping to set up and provide training sessions for the use of hydroponic gardens, facilitating them to combat against desertification so that crops can still grow in the area.

"Seeing what goes on behind the scenes in charities has given me an understanding of the extent of the work that is undertaken, as well as the huge impact this it has in a community."

She continued: "The project has been very successful, allowing locals to grow crops using up to 90% less water than they had previously. In fact, it has proved such a success that new gardens have been set up in a local school, with a training facility providing lessons to teach students about sustainable agriculture methodology."

During her time at Otra Cosa, Jessica was also heavily involved in helping to teach and inspire the next generation of agriculturalists. She explains: "Part of my role was to assist with environmental workshops ran by university students from Trujillo for a module aimed at elementary aged children. Here they spoke about current day environmental issues surrounding animals and water, interacting with the kids and showing them just how important these problems are."

She elaborated: "I think I may have also inspired some people myself, as I've spent time with school children at La Rampa, a skate park, where students of all ages are welcome to come after school to indulge in something new. All of the activities that we run have an educational spin to them though, just trying to further raise their awareness of environmental affairs. I have implemented a theme of Environmental Craft Tuesdays where I encourage the children to bring in their own recycling and rubbish to show them how to make better use of it, for example platted skipping ropes out of plastic bags."

On her placement Jessica also helped to co-ordinate and market 'Yo cuido mi playa', a monthly environmental awareness event that focuses on different conservation issues each month. Topics such as recycling, global warming, animals & extinction, and sustainable water use were raised at these affairs in order to improve the knowledge and consciousness of their relevant impact with the public domain.

She explains: "Although there were games and presentations aimed at providing more information for children, parents and other adults alike seemed to take a lot from the day and were extremely curious as to how these current problems are affecting their region.

"The planning of the event was enlightening as I found that I was able to draw on a lot of the material that I was taught within my degree, so I was able to actually apply to it and put it to good use. It involved all aspects of a voluntourism charity, so I was able to be included in the branding, marketing, fundraising, evaluation and all types of different admin work."

Jessica continues: "As the events went on I was able to develop my understanding of this material and see the significance of different practices and theories I'd learnt previously, as well as discover new methods that I will take forward for the rest of my degree and in my following workplaces. This has also helped me to better comprehend which career area I would like to pursue, as it allowed me to realise what I actually enjoyed doing and was interested by on a daily basis."

Jessica is currently working for the United Nations Association (UNA) exchange to complete the remainder of her placement, spending to past three months at their offices in Wales. Here she has been working with the European voluntary service to organise volunteers across the UK, as well as being involved with Workcamps and the Step by Step Programme - aiding and encouraging the youth to get involved with volunteering schemes.

She says: "This is very different to my first placement as the laws are stricter and guideline requirements needing to be met. I have become engrossed in the projects that I have participated in, making it all the more rewarding when I complete it.

"That was particularly the case with the Step by Step programme, where I was able to support volunteers who didn't have the financial sources to volunteer without our help. So not only was it rewarding the respect of being able to see just how much I could do, but also in terms of being able to make a difference to people's lives."

Jessica rounded up her placement in style, being solely responsible in securing a £1,500 grant to keep the UNA's supported volunteering programme running and leaving a lasting impact on the charity. She has now travelled to Honduras to finish off the remainder of her placement year - hoping it's as exhilarating as the first half. 

 

Name: Charlotte Parnall

Programme: BSc International Development with an Industrial Placement Year

Placement: HR analyst for Verizon

Charlotte Parnall

Current, Part three, BSc International Development student, Charlotte Parnall is flourishing in her role as HR analyst for Verizon, one of the largest American, telecoms companies in the world that offers security, cloud and high speed network services.

During her time there she has been focusing on a report regarding the current issues surrounding the gender pay gap - helping to reduce the gap and create increased equality in industry.

Thrilled with her placement so far, she said: "It has been an eye-opening experience to see the extent of gender equality issues within business. Being able to help on such a worthy cause is extremely rewarding. But in addition, I've also gained a greater insight into different areas of the business such as sales and marketing, and have a better understanding of the basis of how they work."

Never a dull moment, Charlotte has also participated in several University days and careers fairs, as well as volunteering to assist with practice interviews for Oxbridge candidates in local schools. She is also helping the community by investigating how to improve the current work experience system, saying: "I am working to set up a programme within Verizon that will give students the chance to gain valuable insight into industry. This will help to provide people with an idea of what career path they would like to pursue, as well as increasing their awareness of what goes on in a work environment."

As part of the employee engagement initiative for Verizon's 'Be Well Work Well' campaign, Charlotte carried out health checks in Ireland to promote healthy living and productive lifestyles. Here she visited a variety of locations with Health check equipment and as well as giving employees a short update on their current health. Once assessed, employees were given recommendations to help them improve their state of health and lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

In December (2016) Charlotte attended a WAVE event in Paris to promote female inclusion in the digital industry, which is particularly important as the technological industry is highly male stereotyped. She explains "We wanted to give women every chance that we can to become whatever they want, regardless of stereotypes. Not only do I hope this event will have inspired the current generation of women to take on roles within the technological industry, but also offer belief for generations to come and hopefully filter down into many communities."

Charlotte has benefitted from this placement immensely, with lessons learnt around her academic ability and also her development as a person. "I can't recommend a placement enough. I've made so many friends with other interns and I have now generated a network of people that will prove invaluable to me throughout my career. I have had so many fantastic experiences and established numerous skills that I will take forward with me both in my work and my personal life. "

She elaborated: "I am more confident in my public speaking now, and have also improved my leadership qualities from having to take lead on different projects and courses. I also feel like having the adult structure in my life, although a shock at first, has really taught me how to be productive and just what I can achieve in a day."

 

Name: Phoebe Russell

Programme: BSc International Development with an Industrial Placement Year

Placement: 1) United Nations Environment in Thailand; 2) EduCare in Northern India

Phoebe Russell

Current part 3, BSc International Development student, Phoebe Russell, is embracing her placement year with two opportunities - one working for United Nations Environment in Thailand, focusing on the Illegal Wildlife trade, and the other in Northern India, with EduCare, looking at marginalised community empowerment and microfinance.

Phoebe explains: "My placement year is certainly living up to my expectations. I have learnt something new every day. My time with United Nations Environment has certainly opened my eyes.

"Working as part of the Ecosystem Management team, I'm responsible for collecting country specific information on the status of issues and initiatives relating to the illegal wildlife trade in Asia and the Pacific. I analyse the information to explore a new angle for future proposals, as well as assisting in the identification of additional funding opportunities in the region."

She continued: "I was shocked by the scale of such trading. It definitely highlights the urgency for action as wildlife trade not only threatens our ecosystems, but also undermines millions of people's livelihoods, and puts transnational security at risk."

The purpose of Phoebe's internship is to assess the functionality of Wildlife Trade initiatives at a national; transnational; and transcontinental scale to determine what needs to be addressed in the future.

She continues: "In my role I'm able to exercise a lot of what I have learnt at Reading University. Particularly, I have drawn upon my knowledge and skills gained from the Red Award and my course when I created communication channels.

"At University, I often struggled to balance my workload with my personal life and I think the biggest learning curve that I have benefited from is being able to maintain my motivation whilst organising the many tasks that are presented to me; ensuring that they are all handed in on time. I've definitely enjoyed the challenge and the level of responsibility I've received- being treated as a true employee, not just an intern".

Phoebe has 12 weeks remaining in Bangkok before preparing for her second internship, another 20 week placement, but this time with EduCare, based in Himachal Pradesh, in Northern India, focusing on marginalised community empowerment and microfinance.

In the past, EduCare have invested in projects for women to promote money generating activities. The projects also help with assisting financial literacy and promoting communal money saving in order to enhance people's financial awareness.

"The second half of my placement year starts in February 2017 and ties in with my dissertation which is based on microfinance in India, so this is a real opportunity for me to conduct first hand research.

She elaborated: "It will be a very different placement, but equally as interesting. I'm really looking forward to completing more project-based, hands on work with EduCare. Although I will be working for a smaller company, the nature of my work will allow me to work personally with groups or individuals so I can make an even greater impact."

So far Phoebe pleased with the progress she has made on her placement and can see the benefits she has gained from it. She said: "I cannot stress the importance of a placement year more. Although it's not essential that you gain experience before graduating, I have found that is has helped me gain more awareness of how the workplace works and has better prepared me for when I do graduate."

"I still receive my student loan which allows me to make the most of these unpaid opportunities. Being able to take a break from University to travel, meet new people, build on my existing knowledge and take an extra year to think about my dissertation has been ideal! Finding a placement can be time-consuming and stressful, but when you're offered a role, it's completely worthwhile."

 

Name: Josephine Mcallister

Programme: BSc International Development

Placement: SLR Consulting and Lattitude Global Volunteering

Josephine Mcallister

Over the summer I undertook two short placements, the first at a global environmental consultancy firm, SLR Consulting, and the second at the headquarters of Lattitude Global Volunteering here in Reading.

The first placement gave an amazing opportunity - to live and work in Grenoble, France for two weeks, where I was involved with the SLR France team who have clients such as Coca Cola and the World Bank.

Working alongside the team, I contributed to an Environmental Impact Assessment for a new power plant in Uganda and was also able to read and edit a Stakeholder Engagement Plan and an Inception Report. Having access to such documents was an invaluable experience and working within a small team opened my eyes to the other job roles that are relevant to my degree.

An unexpected opportunity also came out of my travel arrangements as I had to fly from Geneva - this enabled me to visit the UN Headquarters and the Red Cross Museum which was really interesting and thought-provoking.

Later in the summer, I spent four weeks working at Lattitude Global Volunteering, a youth development charity that offers voluntary placements abroad for 18-24 year olds. This was the complete opposite to the work I had been doing with SLR; as it offered a much wider range of roles rather than a particular focus on one case, which helped me develop more transferrable skills. It was a really good opportunity to see how a charity is run.

I spent my mornings with the finance team creating a fundraising document to highlight Lattitude's previous donors and their history with the charity alongside the relevant application criteria to assist future bids. In the afternoons, I worked for the marketing team. This included the running of Lattitude's social media accounts, and the International Citizens Service (ICS) team who run the government funded programme alongside the core projects.

During my time with Lattitude I was able to attend an ICS Empower Workshop for volunteers who had just returned from their time abroad and an Orientation for volunteers from Canada, Ecuador and Germany who were arriving in the UK to embark on their 11 month placements.

I would strongly recommend taking a placement during the summer as they have made me so much more aware of the different employment opportunities that are available and have increased my motivation to take a placement year.

 

Name: Jessica Frances Hughes-Pratt

Programme: BSc International Development

Placement: Lattitude ICS Sustainable Livlihoods in Adalku Waya Cylce 1

Jessica Frances Hughes-Pratt

International Development student, Jessica Frances Hughes-Pratt, spent her summer International Citizen Service (ICS) with latitude, a global development charity based in in Reading who operates volunteering projects all over the world, volunteering in Ghana.

Here's what she had to say about here experience:

"I was placed on the first cycle of a livelihoods project, a project to improve people's living standards which normally involves increasing their money making opportunities, in the field they are already in or a new giving them the skills to improve their own lives, in Adaklu Waya, Volta region of south east, Ghana. This entailed setting up and working closely with different agricultural groups (groundnuts, maize, kente and pastries). We signed them up with the district assembly and we helped to create group bank accounts. We also provided them with training on record keeping, marketing and branding. In addition to this, we also carried out two awareness events on the importance of group formation and savings, which were targeted at the whole community.

The purpose of the project was to bring likeminded farmers together to they can share skills and combine their produce to sell at the market together. From this they formed a brand, were provided with training in things record keeping, marketing and branding etc. It gives them the opportunity to lean on other people in the group and expand to new markets, making their farming a business venture rather than subsistence.

I learnt a lot about how development works in a practical sense. I have learnt that development is a long term process as it is all about a change in mind-set.

I would recommend ICS to anyone on the BSC International Development programme as it helps you to put the lectures in to context."

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