My virtual placement experience in employability
In August 2020, Thao Nguyen embarked on her year-long virtual sandwich placement with the Employability team here at NTU. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thao is currently carrying out her placement from her hometown in Hanoi, Vietnam. Read her story in the blog post below.
Starting in a virtual world
My name is Thao Nguyen and I was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam. I first arrived in the UK in 2017 to start my Foundation Course in Business at Nottingham Trent International College. In September 2018, I progressed to Nottingham Trent University to begin my bachelor's degree in Business Management and HR. Now, in my third year, I am doing a virtual placement in NTU Employability Department as the Employer Engagement Assistant.
I first knew that NTU offers placements when I worked part-time for the Global Lounge as they recruit students to be their Student Engagement Assistant yearly. I have heard great stories from NTU Placements students and really enjoyed the work culture myself, so I decided to do more research on what other roles are on offer.
How did I get to do my placement year virtually?
Then, the NTU website advertised for ‘Employer Engagement Assistant (Placement)’, which instantly caught my eyes as I believed its responsibilities would allow me to significantly improve my transferable skills such as communication and teamwork. I remember submitting my online application on the 15th of March and exactly one week later, I flew back to my home country due to COVID-19. After a while, I received an email from NTU saying the job post was then on hold.
I came to terms that I might not have the chance to do a placement within my course since things were so uncertain at the time. However, beyond my imagination, I was invited to an interview in mid-July. As the employer engagement team is presently all working from home, location was not a problem. After a successful interview, I was offered to start in the beginning of August!
What does my role entail?
The Events & Marketing Team of the Employability Department, which I am in, looks after organising job fairs and employer-related events. In this strange time, we have completely switched everything to virtual as you may have seen, for example virtual jobs fairs, online Mock Assessment Centre, employer sessions, etc. It has been interesting to see the behind the scenes of how events are run and the efforts being put into them. I also really enjoy working with my team, which is a small team of five. Everyone is very friendly and supportive, and I am learning a lot from them.
For my role, I am responsible for managing the events inbox (replying to enquiries from employers regarding fairs), processing fair bookings, assisting employers throughout fairs and other administrative tasks. This has given me the opportunity to significantly improve my communication and teamwork skills as well as my attention to details. The Employability Team also pays a great focus on placement students’ development by organising workshops and providing access to courses that aim to enhance one’s transferable skills. Not to mention, my team always gives me the chance to try out new tasks for example writing this blog, producing employer sessions by myself, and more. I am excited for new projects awaiting in the upcoming months.
What are some challenges of working from home?
The first challenge for me was getting to know my team members and other people in the wider Employability Team. Before starting the role, I imagined working from home will give me fewer chances to speak to other colleagues. Luckily, everyone in my team is very understanding and often reaches out to me. My manager also advised me to arrange meetings with other managers and key contacts in the Department, which greatly bettered my understanding of other teams’ responsibilities and let myself be known to other colleagues outside my team.
Furthermore, as I have mentioned at the start, I am currently working from home in Vietnam. Some of you might wonder ‘How is it possible with the time difference?’. At present, Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of the UK, so I work from early afternoon until late at night. It might sound strange but in reality, it is just going to bed and waking up a little later than everyone else in my country.