Student PLN placement with DEFRA – a mutually beneficial opportunity

Student looking to the left, in front of leafy backdrop with text 'Student Placement DEFRA' overlaidAt the University of Bristol Business School, students can work with external organisations to utilise transferable skills from their degree in a professional setting. We spoke to BSc Economics and Management student, Karen, about her recent experiences when she did an in-curriculum placement at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) organised by the University’s Professional Liaison Network. Find out what she had to say.

A placement with DEFRA

DEFRA’s team of analysts review stakeholder data to help advise the government on the policies related to the environment, food and rural affairs.

During her placement, Karen supported DEFRA on projects around pesticide use – analysing data and trends, interviewing organisations and writing reports of findings that will ultimately help to inform future potential policy changes.

The Professional Liaison Network

Student placements like Karen’s are coordinated by the University’s Professional Liaison Network.  They offer a range of activities to connect students, academics and researchers from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law with external organisations. Taking place in-curriculum and counting towards student’s final degree, placements are a fantastic opportunity for Business School students to bridge the gap between academic learning and the ‘real world’ of work. The Professional Liaison Network aim to match students to sectors or skill sets they’re interested in pursuing in their career and offer support to students throughout their placements.

Other opportunities offered to Business School students by the Professional Liaison Network include student projects with external organisations, mentoring opportunities and panel events.

Why do a placement?

The Professional Liaison Network keep in regular contact with the organisations throughout student placements to foster collaboration and help ensure activities are mutually beneficial to students and the organisations.

For students, placements are a chance to put their skills into practise in the world of work, gain experience of working life amongst other professionals, and explore career ideas and opportunities.

There are great benefits to the organisations too. Mark Chandler, Head of Evidence and Analysis at DEFRA, highlighted how beneficial Karen’s placement had also been to them as an organisation with the insights that she had helped to bring and said of these placement opportunities, ‘I can see other organisations benefiting, you know – from just the energy that the student brings, somebody coming with a fresh perspective, a fresh way of approaching a problem’.

Reflecting on her placement at DEFRA, Karen said, ‘I think it gives you a real idea of where you could go and where you could take your degree in the future’, and noted that she would, ‘absolutely recommend doing a placement if you can, if that’s something you’re interested in’.

Find out more about how the Professional Liaison Network connect students with external organisations.