Development & Alumni Relations Office 

BECOME A PLACEMENT PROVIDER – VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK  Volunteer Week 2020 - student placement collage against backdrop of coloured hands

04 June 2020

The provision of student placements is the focus of Volunteers’ Week 2020 (1-5 June) today, as we continue to examine the role graduates play in the life of Queen’s, thanking those who currently provide important work placements and giving a ‘shout out’ to others who might be in a position to do so.

Speaking ahead of Volunteers’ Week, Head of Alumni and Supporter Engagement, Ian Moore said: “Each and every one of our 468 alumni volunteers over the last year has played an integral role in the life of Queen’s.

“Whether it’s providing support and guidance to the University on its journey, encouraging and motivating our students to pursue inspirational careers through mentoring or work-related placements or simply keeping the University family connected around the world through our graduate associations, alumni volunteers make such a difference.

“We are hugely grateful to every one of our volunteers for the gifts of time that they give to Queen’s.”

Across a broad range of volunteering areas, this week we are concentrating on some of the many hundreds of graduates who, during the last 12 months, have given the gift of time in support of the University.

Queen’s offers a variety of volunteering activities, each with varying levels of time commitment but each making a huge contribution to the lives of current students:

Today, we are featuring placement providers. Work-related learning opportunities and placements are hugely valuable to students at Queen's. During Volunteers’ Week 2020, find out how you, as a graduate, can give back to the University and become a placement provider.

“Work-related learning and preparation enhance the student experience and allow students to realise their potential,” said Natasha Sharma, the University’s Alumni Relations Volunteer Manager.

“Placements enable students to realise their latent impact, giving them a better understanding of their potential career. As a result, and thanks to the many graduates who help arrange these placements, Queen’s students are empowered to enter and succeed in graduate job markets,” she added.

Work-related study modules are integrated into academic programmes and are compulsory on many pathways. Most students across campus will have engaged in some industry-related learning during their time with at Queen’s, and for most it is an invaluable part of their degree. 

Lauren Keenan, a BSc Actuarial Science and Risk Management graduate (2018) (pictured top right) is an Actuarial Analyst at Allianz Insurance in London and originally joined the company as a placement student: “On the London Finance and Business Study Tour with Queen’s, I got a real sense of the buzz around the city. I thought it was something I would like to be a part of and so I choose London as my placement year.

Staff in Queen’s Work-related Learning Offices support employers to engage with current students across all faculties and work with students to connect them to available opportunities and to create work-related modules for them to participate in learning. This can range from one week placement, to a summer internship, or to a full-time paid placement during the academic year.

"I settled in quickly as there were lots of social events and fellow alumni to meet,” continued Lauren. “The Placement Office at Queen’s kept in touch with me and my placement provider, so I always felt connected to campus.

“Having graduated with a first-class honours’ degree, I was delighted to secure a permanent job with my placement provider, returning to Allianz Insurance as an Actuarial Analyst. I look forward to welcoming new placement students in the future!”

Work-based projects give students a chance to apply their academic knowledge to real life scenarios. Queen’s offers virtual and onsite projects for groups or individual students. You can meet our students through guest lectures, employer-led workshops and at annual careers fairs.

Aveen Connolly (2nd from right in centre photograph), a BSc Actuarial Science (2016) graduate, represented her employer, Irish Life, at our most recent careers’ fair. “What a great day we had at the Queen’s Actuary and Finance fair hosted by the Queen’s Management School Placement Office!” said Aveen.

“We came to represent opportunities within the Irish Life group. In particular, it was great to have my brother Christopher there, who last year was on the other side of the stand job-hunting!”

From finance to law, students across our programmes can take part in a work-related placement. BSc Finance (2006) graduate, Aidan Cleary (above top left) is a Senior Vice President at FinTrU. He was a Queen’s placement student during his studies at the University and has since helped to set FinTrU’s placements programme: 

“While I was at Queen’s I completed a placement year, so I understand the invaluable benefit of applying my degree knowledge within the workplace. When I joined FinTrU, I was very keen for us to offer this same opportunity to current Queen’s students.

“Our placement students have been fantastic, and some of them have gone on to have careers with us long after graduation with many completing further professional qualifications, such as the Investment Operations Certificate (IOC).

“Now, more than ever, the next generation of employees need us to invest in their future. Students who complete a placement year at FinTrU have the opportunity to return as an Analyst 2 following their graduation, giving them a head start on their career in financial services.

With Queen’s ranked in the top 140 educational institutions in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020), staying connected to the University as a volunteer placement provider can also have many benefits for our alumni volunteers.  

“I love keeping the connection alive with Queen’s, professionally,” said Aidan. “The regular touch points with the University keep me well informed and representing my company at Queen’s makes me feel proud that I can give back in this way.”

The University can develop bespoke employability programmes to help you find your future employees. In addition to the obvious benefits enjoyed by students, placement providers – who are invaluable to the University – help to promote their businesses in the local and international community.

“For our alumni volunteers,” added Natasha Sharma, “volunteering can also be a really great way to develop their own transferable skills. It can help broaden and expand their personal networks, and in most cases it has a really positive impact on the individual’s mental health and wellbeing.

“And the more you volunteer – the more student placements you provide for example – the greater the buzz!” she concluded.

Those graduates in a position to offer placement opportunities in their organisations, or who might wish to arrange a company visit for current Queen’s students, can view one such recent visit to Morgan Stanley in London here.

For further details on becoming a work-related placement provider or to volunteer in any other way to support the University, please contact Queen’s Alumni Volunteering Manager, Natasha Sharma.

For general enquiries about this story or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Volunteering opportunities:   

Volunteering can take many forms. Sometimes graduates may not even realise that they are volunteering, or even see themselves as volunteers!

1. Profile provision

Providing a profile photo, along with details of a graduate career path, can have massive benefits. The University can use this information in prospectuses or on our website to inform prospective students of the value of a Queen’s degree. If you would like to volunteer in this way, please draft 300 words (max) outlining your career path and send this, along with a recent high-res profile photo, to Natasha Sharma

2. Associations

Alumni associations and chapters bridge the gap between Queen's graduates and the University all around the world. These groups – and the events and activities they organise – are run by alumni volunteers, who find it a mutually beneficial way of staying in touch. For more on joining or becoming involved in the running of one of our alumni groups at home or around the world, visit our associations’ web page.

3. Mentoring

Volunteer mentors make themselves available as sounding boards for current students and younger graduates. For current students, finding out how best to prepare for the world of work – and how to make progress once they get there – can be life changing. For younger graduates too, having a chance to talk to someone who has already been down the same career path can also be hugely beneficial.

Mentors increase employee knowledge and improve existing skills, can be hugely beneficial in terms of professional and personal development and improve employee satisfaction and retention. For more on mentoring opportunities, please contact Natasha Sharma.  

4. Placements

When alumni introduce us to their organisations, it enables our Work Related Learning and Placement Offices support staff to uncover the potential opportunities by understanding the company needs. By implementing a system that’s been operating for more than 25 years, the right students are then matched to relevant opportunities, such as placements, careers fairs and company visits, to the mutual benefit of both parties, creating long-standing positive relationships with our engaged corporates. Work related learning can even occur virtually, with individual or groups of students. To discuss providing a student placement, please contact Natasha Sharma.   

5. Recruitment

Many graduates give back in another special way, by sharing their positive experiences of Queen’s - and their career path since - with a student holding offer for, or considering applying to, Queen’s. In this way, the graduate adds real credibility to our efforts, as the potential student can hear about the value of a Queen’s degree directly from someone who has attended the University. As a volunteer in this key area, the individual graduate may speak at online recruitment events, stand with us at careers fairs or network with potential students at virtual events. To discuss becoming a recruitment volunteer for Queen's, please contact Natasha Sharma.   


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