Written by Amy
BA (Hons) Politics
Nobody thought that joining final year would be all fun and games; we all knew it would be hard work from the moment summer ended. What I didn’t know, however, was that the course became so much more interesting.
I did a vlog for the university last year, covering my highlights of being a Bournemouth student, one of which included the prospect of completing a placement. Although I chose not to do the year-long arrangement, it’s compulsory for politics students to complete at least a four-week placement, so that’s what I did over the summer.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the mind blank when someone asks what you’re thinking about doing after college or uni, or for your placement. As it happens, I’ve always had that problem because I’m extremely indecisive, so actually splitting my placement time into two different professions really helped me identify the kind of work that appeals to me, not just within politics either.
I worked in both a literary agency and the marketing department of an electronics company – professions that seem on the surface to be completely unrelated to politics. However, since the modules on my course tend to be interdisciplinary – covering subjects such as marketing, psychology, and media – I was able to apply the theories we’d studied to the practice.
Working at the literary agency provided more opportunities to meet new people as I sat in on meetings with a diverse range of authors and publishers. I definitely learned more at the literary agency in terms of practical skills, such as the art of negotiation, which I grasped from sitting in on a number meetings between a literary agent and author. I also undertook admin-like tasks, such as filing royalties and skim-reading book submissions, which aren’t exactly transferable skills but were a learning curve nonetheless.
The electronics company consisted very much of admin work, such as writing up reports and conversing with the employees about problems with their shipments. Although I gained a lot of confidence in this role – having to communicate with people I barely knew – I felt as though the opportunities to pick up skills and experience were more limited with this placement.
However, I made invaluable contacts with the people I worked with during both my placements. Both the literary agency and the electronics company have offered me a job once I graduate and I feel as though merely having this option is meaningful and beneficial for the future.
Summer ended too soon, as it always does, and suddenly we were starting our concluding year at Bournemouth. ‘Dissertation’ was the first word our lecturer spoke to us. Great. When you’re only told about the stressful aspects of dissertation, it’s really harrowing knowing that you have to complete your own.
But it’s important to know that, although stressful (as any assignment is), it’s not as awful as you hear. In fact, if you pick a topic that’s enjoyable to you, it’s interesting. From the perspective of a politics student, you can make almost anything political and so it’s simple to pick a dissertation that suits both the criteria and yourself.
I chose my dissertation topic based on some information I’d learned while working in the literary agency, which is why I would always strongly advise doing a placement. It’s important to enjoy whatever you do – whether you’re concerned about what course to choose, or where to work or what dissertation topic to do. And remember, it’s not all work at university!