ERASMUS work placement student (2014)

Where are you from and what do you study?

My name is Ana, I am originally from Argentina but I have lived in Spain for 10 years. I study Politics and Public Administration Science degree at Granada University (Spain).

In Spain I studied a combination of disciplines such as; Economy, Sociology, Electoral Behavior, International Relations, Law, Statistics, Human Geography among others. My main interests are Gender Studies, International Relations, Equality and Animal Welfare.

You are an ERASMUS work placement student at Northumbria. What is that?

The Erasmus work placement scheme is financed by the European Union. It is an opportunity for a student to do a work placement abroad. To begin with, the student must find a host institution. It could be a university or a company etc. Once the host institution is found, the student must contact the home university and start to arrange the “agreement”. The placement can last a minimum period of 3 months and a maximum of 12 (Only a maximum of 6 months are paid).

In my case I decided that I needed to go further with my degree and I wanted to have my experience abroad, I did my (Academic) Erasmus year at Durham University and I wanted to come back to the North East. It is important to know where you want to go and what you want to get from it, after all it is a great experience that can lead to a job opportunity.

The search for a placement was not easy because not many people know what the Erasmus work placement is and sometimes they don’t understand how it works. I advise anyone wishing to take this opportunity to write an email explaining first what the scheme is about. I started to send e-mails to different institutions and departments. One day I received a response from Northumbria University saying that they could have an opportunity for me and that’s how, after an interview, I started to arrange all sort of details.

So what do you do as a work placement student?

At Northumbria they provided me with an office and all of the tools that I needed in order to perform my work. I am Research Assistant of Dr. Kirsten Haack. It is a daily learning experience and exciting. The idea of working in what you like is always awesome but the feeling of actually performing it is even better. I have assisted Dr. Haack with different projects all of which are of great interest. This included; translating documents, performing biographical research and researching through the current literature in different areas such as gender, international organisations and democracy.

One of the reasons why I chose this placement is that enables me to further my career and that is something that I am very thankful for. It is important that the host institution care about the experience of the student and assists the potential learning from it and this is what I got here.

Has this work placement helped you with your studies? How does it fit in with plans for your future career?

The placement is an opportunity to put theory in to practice and is also a chance to develop new skills. The research topics I am covering are within my interests and within what I have studied during my degree. Every day at work I have the chance to practice what I have learned and this reassures me of the direction that I want to follow.

Researching at a more professional level, the people that I have met, the experience of being in a new and completely different educational system and working in an academic environment is just amazing and very rewarding. Of course the chance of improving my English is as important. In a globalized world learning a new language could be what makes you different than the rest and opens you a new door towards a good job.

Today, having experiences of working and living abroad says a lot about you and it is something that looks very good in your CV, opens up your mind and makes you grow not only professionally but in a personal level. I definitely recommend this experience to everyone and I am more than happy to help you if you need some advice on how to start looking for your work placement abroad.