All of us require healthcare and I wanted to apply my degree to decisions made in a sector under constant pressure

Photo of Megan Gunter
Megan Gunter
Undergraduate student
BSc Economics and Mathematics with Employment Experience
Megan did a placement as a Student Analyst at the Department of Health and Social Care in Leeds.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Sheffield?

The first thing that drew me to the University of Sheffield was how green the city is. With the amount of parks and trees and the closeness of the Peak District, I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to get out and about. Other reasons include the option to opt in for a placement during second year (to then be completed in third year) rather than having to fully commit to it in year 13.

Also, the department required no prior study of Economics. I didn’t study A Level Economics but I did do Maths and Further Maths, so this pushed Sheffield high up the list for the dual honours course. Both the Economics and Maths departments had a wide range of modules in years 2 and 3 and I was assigned a personal tutor in both departments which helped me feel a part of them both. Finally, I really liked the accommodation and the huge amount of societies that I could join.

Having now finished my degree, I have loved my time at the University both in and out of studies. I’ve had a broad overview of Economics and Mathematics but also the chance to focus in detail in my favourite areas.

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

During my placement year I was a Student Analyst at the Department of Health and Social Care in the Office of the Chief Analyst. I’ve been interested in healthcare and health economics since a Microeconomics lecture at the end of first year. All of us require healthcare and I wanted to apply my degree to decisions made in a sector under constant pressure.

When this scheme was advertised on an email sent from the department, it immediately stood out as the placement I wanted. The department and the Careers Advisor for the faculty were really helpful at providing support and advice. For example, they checked my CV, cover letters and gave me some interview tips. Also briefings and training sessions were organised (for example on Microsoft Excel) at the end of second year to prepare us for our placement.

Why did you choose to do a placement year? 

I chose to complete a placement year because I wanted to gain some more work experience and try something new. Even if I wasn’t successful at obtaining an offer, I knew the practice of applications and interviews would help when it came to graduate jobs. Also, I wanted a break from studying whilst gaining skills that would help me when I returned for final year. I’d been considering either a summer internship or 12 months placement since I started my degree and decided on the placement because I believed I would be able get involved in more projects and opportunities.

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

My favourite experience during placement year was when I spent two weeks providing cover in the private office of the top Civil Servant in the department. I was in charge of their diary, collated the required documents for the day and summarised daily submissions to ministers across the department. I was also allowed to sit in on some high profile meetings. It was exciting to see how all the different areas of the department linked together whilst being in a high profile and fast paced environment.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I will be an Assistant Economist at the Department for Transport as part of the Government Economic Service. My course has improved my employability by increasing my knowledge of the two subjects – both the theory and the application of them. I’ve also learnt some new computer packages, how to approach tasks analytically and good time management skills.

Likewise, my placement has improved my soft skills which are useful in any future employment (for example teamwork, organisation and communication). Furthermore, during the year I was able to network across the department, complete a selection of training courses and have mock interviews and assessment centres.

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