Ruiqi’s insights from a summer placement

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Architecture, Planning and Environmental Management, Undergraduate | 0 comments

As part of my courses, I had a chance to find a short placement in my second year. The placement I had was in Sow the City, a social enterprise with an aim of empowering communities to live and grow sustainably in Manchester. My job is to help designing different scales of green spaces in a variety of institutional buildings as School, Hospital, Community center or Park, by turning those grey spaces or brownfield into a friendly and sustainable place with abundant green infrastructures. One of projects I have participated is ‘Growing Manchester, which has successfully built 7 community gardens in Manchester and delivered a number of amazing outdoor workshops, with over 2000 attendees so far. It has not only improved our environment, but also enhanced people’s awareness of living sustainably.

1. Why did I choose a placement

I studied Planning and Real Estate, you may wonder why I chose a placement that wasn’t entirely related to my major. Because I suddenly started to pay more attention on Environment after I had my school fieldtrip to Scotland in this year, and also I consider being a planner, I need to be equipped with different knowledges from Environment, Architecture, Policies, Economic etc. At that time, I always have much interest in urban design, which I even decide to learn after I graduate next year. So I think this placement is perfect for me to have a taste of being a designer.

2. What did I get from the placement

The reason I choose to have a placement during my academic year is not only for one more thing I could put into my CV, but also for this precious experience, totally different from my uni life. I have participated in some practical projects, made some design and never stopped learning. I have learned some gardening skills and met different people in the workshops. Some are suffering from mental health, some have been to prison before, some have been through horrible domestic violence. I appreciate every conversation with them and believe they will help me to think, plan and design in a broader perspective. This placement not only give me more experience of career, but also help me to build a clearer future plan.

3. How did I find my placement, plus some tips

I have attended an online programme ‘Food Wave Programme’ in the first semester of my second year and this job opportunity is given by one of the facilitators. We kept in touch after I finished this programme and while I was trying to find a placement, I sent them an email to ask if they could offer me a job. Luckily, they said yes.

I know you might think my story is not ‘learnable’, cause in reality it isn’t that easy to find a job, not along a short placement. But just let you know, before getting this placement, I have also been through a depressing and stressful job-finding period. I have applied for plenty of jobs, sent numerous emails, but it all turned out to be ‘No reply’ or a frustrating rejection. I totally understand what you are feeling while looking for a job. Therefore, today i have some tips for you. But before you read them, I want you know, they are just from my personal experience, it won’t be perfect for everyone, please choose what suits you best.

Firstly, don’t feel so blue if you receive a rejection. You are not alone. Just keep sending your CV to more companies. Secondly, ‘Making Connection’, especially for finding a placement. Making connection with everyone you admire and feel free to share your opinions with them. Don’t miss any chance to make connection with professional people in the area you are interested in. Thirdly, for a short placement, sometimes choosing not a very big company might be better for you. I won’t deny the value of working in a big company. But for myself, I would prefer a smaller company as my first job experience because I think I will need a gap and I believe myself could learn more. The company I went to is a group of seven lovely people with different background such as art, environmental management, landscape design or education. In a small community, we have more time to communicate, interact and cooperate. Not only learning from work, we also learn from each other. Besides, this chill and comfortable office place encourage me to try new thing and have courage to keep challenging myself.

Written by Ruiqi Tao