How a placement year helped me to create my best future.

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By Saharla, BSc(Hons) Psychology with Sociology

Saharla tells us about her placement year at a local mental health charity. She shares her experience of what she did while on placement and how it’s helped her to not only become more employable, but more confident too. A sandwich year is usually taken in your third year of your degree to help you gain supervised work experience.

“Hi, I’m Saharla and I’m a final year Psychology with Sociology student here at UWE Bristol. I’ve always wanted to take a sandwich year, so I spent my third year doing a voluntary placement in central Bristol. I was keen to take my interest in psychology and mental health to the next level by trialling it as a career.

My placement year experience

On my placement year, I worked at a youth mental health charity called ‘Off the Record’. I was involved in helping more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people access primary mental health services. I aimed to raise awareness of mental health and tools to improve mental health. This was done through assemblies, group sessions and sharing resources with other organisations and schools.

During my placement, I helped run drop-in sessions, where young people could chat to someone over a coffee. We ran similar sessions outdoors in a community garden, so young people could get support while connecting with nature. I also spoke about mental health in school assemblies and co-facilitated girls’ groups, where we talked about body image, self-care and resources for seeking help.

My placement year gave me so much confidence. I developed my communication skills by talking to managers, supervisors and young people. I improved my public speaking skills too, by talking in front of groups of young people. I’m not afraid to put up my hand and give answers in big lectures now.

I’ve become much more fearless.

I’m also more organised and after developing a professional routine; I feel more like an adult. It’s given me the chance to digest my first two years of learning and think about what I want to study for my dissertation. I’ve met lots of new students I never would have met if I hadn’t done a placement. It’s a great way of meeting new people and making friends.

I really enjoyed working with groups of young people on my placement. In the future, I’d love to work with young people in any capacity, whether in pastoral care in schools or youth work. It’d also be great to go back to ‘Off the Record’ and work on another project that helps young people from ethnic minorities like ‘Project Zazi’.

If you can, I’d urge anyone to do a placement.

There’s no rush to finish your degree and you’ll become so much more confident. I’m now more employable and I’ve seen a glimpse of life after graduating. I’m excited to graduate and ready to join the working world.”

Find out more about placements at UWE Bristol.

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