Northern Star Business Award

Hi, I’m Katie and I am currently in my fourth year of the Management BA (Hons) course at RGU. Many students consider doing a year’s work placement and to help anyone who is wondering whether to go for it or not, I thought I’d share a bit about my experience and the perfect way to say “thanks” to the businesses and organisations that make it possible.


I had two reasons for opting for a work placement during my third year: firstly, I had really enjoyed the ‘learning’ but wanted to put my theoretical knowledge to practical use, and secondly, I saw it as a way of improving my job prospects by gaining some valuable experience. I can honestly say that it has been a great experience and I have no regrets, despite the challenges of balancing a really busy role with my degree-related work.

I successfully applied for a post as ICT Project Leader at Aberdeenshire Council and was involved in a varied selection of work that really opened my eyes to the range of projects that are ongoing within the local government.

In the early days, I was ‘finding my feet’ and spent a lot of time shadowing my colleagues and learning how it all worked, but as time went on I was trusted with tasks that I could carry out independently and it has been a fantastic way to learn the ropes whilst being supported and supervised. I’m delighted to say that I found a way of acknowledging the efforts of the team that I worked with over my time there.

Every year, RGU sponsors the Placement Award at the Northern Star Business Awards, which allows students on placement to nominate their placement provider for the award based on their experiences. I decided to nominate Aberdeenshire Council as a thank you for the way they had helped me develop my personal and professional skills. Awards like these can reflect incredibly positively on a company so it’s a great idea to nominate your company if you feel you’ve had an award-winning placement experience.


The Application Process

The application process for the awards was really straightforward and simple. I found that a lot of the information needed for the application was closely linked to work I was already doing for my third year modules (Management in Practice and Research Methods). I had been keeping a weekly log of work I was involved with on placement and the modules it related to at university to help me out for writing my MIP report at the end of the placement, so I submitted this alongside my application as a supporting document. As long as the material you submit is non-confidential, you can attach anything you think will support your application. For example, you could add in some files of accomplishments you have achieved while on placement (e.g. reviews, appraisals or training material).

The Lead Up to the Awards

We were notified that we had made the finals and then invited along to produce a video clip for the award ceremony. I’m a little camera shy but it was yet another opportunity to enjoy another new experience.

I was invited along to the Finalist Reception event, which proved to be the perfect networking opportunity – meeting successful local business people is clearly a valuable prospect for any student. It was also a great chance to meet the other placement students up for the award and hear about their time on placement. We were all presented with a finalist plaque, which was really nice as we still had something to show off even if we didn’t win the category!


The Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony itself was fantastic – a real celebration of everyone’s hard work and a great opportunity for everyone to relax and enjoy themselves. We were treated to a lovely meal and it was such a wonderful surprise when we were announced as the winner of our category.

The Aftermath

My colleagues at the council were thrilled to receive the accolade and the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council, Jim Savege said: “We have benefitted enormously over the years through hosting student placements and it is wonderful to have our efforts acknowledged in this way. We will definitely be doing more in the future”.

It is a great feeling when you arrive at work each day and see the award sitting in reception. I would definitely recommend that any student who enjoyed their placement experience should nominate their company; it’s a fantastic way to say thanks for your time in the workplace, if you ask me, it’s the perfect way to end your placement experience and really allows you to finish on a high.

Katie Shaw

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