Standing out from the crowd

An economics student at graduation - image
Joseph Hubbard
Undergraduate student
BSc Economics with Employment Experience
Joseph did a placement year with the Department for Work and Pensions to gain work experience after graduation.

Why did you choose to do a placement year?

I did a placement year mainly to make myself more employable once graduating from University, as I’d been told how competitive the graduate job market was, and thought this was a great chance to make myself stand out by learning some skills a lot of graduates wouldn’t have. It was also a really good way for me to extend my time at University, and live somewhere new for a bit as I moved to Leeds for my placement year.

What would you say to someone thinking of studying an economics degree with a placement at the University of Sheffield?

I would say go for it, but only if you’re sure you want to do one. Second-year is difficult and requires a lot of work, and applications for placement years are also quite time-consuming, so juggling both placement applications and University work at the same time for a few months was at times stressful. However, if you definitely want to do one it is extremely worth it!

I think you get a lot out of doing a placement year, a lot more than I thought I would, and you are able to build on a large number of skills which are valuable to employers but sometimes difficult to teach at University.

What was your placement year and why did you choose that organisation?

My placement year was with the Government Economic Service (GES), based at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

I chose to work for the GES as I really enjoyed my degree and wanted to keep my title as an Economist and have an opportunity to get involved with Economics that was happening within the Government.

I then chose DWP as I felt it was a good chance to work in an area that makes a real positive difference to so many people’s lives, and somewhere I felt my work was useful and helping others.

I feel much more confident applying for jobs now than I did when applying for my placement at the start of my second-year, and I feel I’m in a much better position now to secure jobs that appeal to me.

Joseph Hubbard

BSc Economics with Employment Experience

What was your favourite experience during your placement year and why?

My favourite experience was a project I worked on looking at staff turnover within the department, as it allowed me to use Econometric analysis which I’d learnt at University, and take charge of a project myself from start to finish.

I then presented this work in front of the department’s Chief Economist, which gave me a real sense of accomplishment.

I also really enjoyed the social aspect of my placement, as DWP is the largest government department so gave me a chance to meet lots of new people, a lot of whom I still keep in touch with now my placement is over.

What important skills did you learn from your placement year?

I feel that whilst on my placement year I was able to develop my data analysis skills and learnt how to effectively present data, which is something that is important for an Economist to be able to do.

I also feel that my presentation skills, both written and verbal, increased significantly as I was taught how to be concise and also given the experience of presenting to others, which I believe has increased my confidence.

Other things I learnt on placement were general professionalism and maturity, as this was my first experience in full-time work, and also a much better appreciation of what I wanted to do following university and what I needed to do to achieve that.

What are your plans after graduation?

Now that I’ve graduated I plan to take a year out travelling and working abroad (using savings from my placement year – another bonus of doing a year in industry), before starting my career as an Economist, and I feel that both the University of Sheffield and my placement year have equipped me with the tools to do this.

Due to the university’s high level of teaching and the range of skills I’ve learnt on my placement year, I feel much more confident applying for jobs now than I did when applying for my placement at the start of my second-year, and I feel I’m in a much better position now to secure jobs that appeal to me.

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