Why did you decide to apply to M.Sc. in Educational Leadership program? What did influence you? Let me answer these questions by showing you how my undergraduate placement affected my career choice and future professional direction.
Student time is the period of taking risks, overcoming challenges, and making choices and trials. Merrill states “learning is promoted when knowledge is applied and integrated in the real world” (cited in Allsopp et al, 2006, p.66), therefore it is very valuable to offer students an opportunity to try and taste the real work environment in order they could make sense of their knowledge. In this regard undertaking placement is the ideal opportunity for students to bridge the gap between theory and practice and foster knowledge and professional growth. The main purpose of taking placement is to engage students in activities in a professional setting, deepen their professional skills and prepare for a future professional world. Gaining practice in the real work atmosphere assists students in shaping their future plans, it provides students with an opportunity to make sense of their studies and see how their knowledge fit into the professional world.
It can be said that the experience of placement is unique to each student. In my case, I believe that the impact of the placement on my learning was huge. I undertook my placement at the University of Brighton’s Student Services department in 2009. This was an ideal place to see the ‘full picture’ of the work environment and feel it as an ‘insider’. It was the time of making sense of the papers I have read during my studies and actively experience different situations in the real life (Kolb, 1984). Furthermore, by reflecting I was able to understand the processes and structures of my placement organisation (Schon, 1991). Reflective writing helped me to review critically my own learning, emotions and behavior. By challenging myself I have learnt to engage in self-development and self-knowledge. I have build on my previous knowledge and adapted to the new knowledge during my placement.
I have become more focused and confident, the qualities which definitely helped me to excel in my studies and career. I have realized that though I have been responsible for only small part of different tasks at Student Services, other members of staff relied on me, so I have become more responsible. I focused not only on the outcomes, but on the whole journey I went through while on my placement. The positive atmosphere motivated me to learn more about Student Services. Professional knowledge I have gained throughout my placement enabled me to evaluate critically my role within organisation (Bulman, 2004).
I have learnt to make positive contributions while working in a team and manage my time efficiently in order to meet the deadlines on time. I have realized that it is so crucial to feel the sense of belonging and benefiting organisation, which stimulated me to learn more. By leading several interviews with different members of staff, producing the video, talking to students and staff during the wellbeing week and answering telephone calls – for the first time I have realized that my confidence in communication skills and English have increased enormously. Owing to the fact that I was actively involved during the wellbeing week I have developed my organisational skills. Working within Career Services presented me an opportunity to improve my IT skills. As an addition, I have learnt certain technical skills such as using different equipments, designing brochures and vouchers, database inputting and coding, experiences which I really think positively affected my growth.
By the end of the placement I have realized that I see myself within the placement context and part me of already belonged to this place, therefore I have decided to apply for a Student Services Student Ambassador role. After completing my placement I became more focused on my studies and future career direction. This placement opportunity confirmed my career choice to work within Higher Education setting and after graduation I have been offered a place to support students and faculty at one university in Astana and to further enhance my professional competencies I have decided to apply to M.Sc. in Educational Leadership program.
What is your story?
Allsopp, D.H (2006). Bridging the gap between theory and practice: connecting courses with field experiences. Teacher education Quarterly. Retrieved from: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3960/is_200601/ai_n16027845/?tag=content;col1
Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. London: Prentice-Hall.
Schon, D. (1991). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Aldershot: Ashgate