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Michael Stephens at Asda

I am a Student at the university studying Business, Economics and Finance. During my second year I decided to do a placement year before progressing to my third and final year. I thought this was a fantastic idea, as I had been in full time education since my primary school days and I was eager to get in to the world of work. The opportunity of working full time, receiving a regular income as well as gaining experience for future employment was something I could not afford to miss out on. 

While searching for placements I decided to approach my current employer to see the opportunities they could provide for me to progress through the company. This company was ASDA and they were more than happy to provide me with a full time contract, as well as putting me on a progression programme to enhance my managerial skills. While working for the company I was often left in charge of a department, managing colleagues, delegating tasks and financial controlling through managing stock levels/orders. In addition the management course taught a range of skills such as understanding the ways change have to be approached in an organisation, different ways of providing feedback both positive and negative to colleagues and I learnt how to use the I.T services of the company, to gain access to all sorts of resources to continue my development. Not only did I have the training programme I had fantastic support from the management team at the company who were always willing to give me advice and guidance, in particular my two line managers through one to one talks. Furthermore in order to stay up to date with the economic/competitive environment. 

This opportunity has given me a range of transferable skills that can be applied to both my future studies and employment. After working for the organisation for so long my confidence levels have grown, which is a massive benefit for the future, such as in job interviews, doing group presentations and in general future employment in managerial positions. I am confident of my abilities without worrying about appearing arrogant or big headed. 

In addition to this, team work has been a major part of my time with the organisation both with managing and working with colleagues to achieve our departmental targets in terms of sales. Although I did this regularly at university through seminars and group assignments, working as part of a team every day at work, is much more beneficial as you see a variety of different work styles and ways to approach a situation from different individuals which has helped broaden my own skills, in particular when it comes to problem solving. 

I would highly recommend all students to do a placement during their time at university. It is a fantastic help improving employment chances in the future and has also motivated me for my final year to achieve the best possible degree I can. Any experience you can get is essential in such a highly competitive job market.