Thursday, 29 January 2015

Three is the magic number

This week marks the third anniversary of Tales from the Placement Office and the creation of 'The Placement Officer'. What started out as an idle thought on a train journey home from the National Placement & Internship Awards has spawned the best part of 100 blog articles, built a Twitter following that many graduate recruitment teams would envy, and launched the #PlacementChat platform which has helped a huge number of students to engage with employers during their search for work experience.

I'd like to think that the time I've put into my activities over the past three years have been useful for others, whether they be students looking for some impartial advice or another university service on the hunt for good practice. Along the way I've had the pleasure of meeting some really great people who in all likelihood I would never have known without donning the mask of The Placement Officer.

Personally speaking it has been a pretty rewarding experience too. I've found social media to be the perfect tool to display my passion for placements and share that energy with a wider audience. The blog had drawn the attention of my peers working in Higher Education, and I received recognition from the broader industry in being awarded Outstanding Contribution to Work Experience at the National Undergraduate Employability Awards. As professional development projects go, I'm not sure it'll be topped any time soon.

J'ai trois ans
However, while things blossomed via an online persona, my career trajectory has failed to reach new heights. Three years down the line and I find myself in more or less the same role as I did when I penned that first article and typed the first tweet. I'll be honest and admit from the outset I had hoped the blog and all that went with it could open up opportunities for progression. Alas, two days after I unmasked to reveal the author behind the blog, at the precise moment I was hoping to seize upon my momentum and look to cash-in any credit I had acquired, personal events kicked ambition into touch. One minute I was riding high on the crest of a wave, the next I was confronted by a life altering moment courtesy of two short Latin words that were translated for me by a sonographer.

Life is too short for regret. I certainly wouldn't change what happened that day and every morning I wake up to a little miracle who brings unimaginable joy that eclipses any shiny new job title. I could talk what ifs until I was blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is my priority since then has not been to push onwards and upwards. That said it has been a little frustrating at times and there have been the occasional moment where I've contemplated the nuclear option by publishing an 'I'm The Placement Officer, Get Me Out Of Here' article or something to that effect. Much as I like a good rant, it probably would not have been the wisest professional move.

So what happens now in 2015? Well, first and foremost the blog continues and The Placement Officer will keep doing his thing on Twitter for as long as there is an audience that wants to engage. Three years is a lifetime on social media but I still think there is some mileage to travel yet, not to mention placement opportunities to promote. What happens offline is perhaps a more interesting discussion point.

I am looking to be challenged. In a couple of weeks time I'll be starting a short online course I have enrolled in via Future Learn with a view to increasing my own personal knowledge which I hope will aid in my ability to help students with their search for employment. My blogging provided a creative avenue for skills development; I'm optimistic that this proactive approach to learning will generate new opportunities to do the same. Exploration can bring fresh impetus to the cyclical nature of placements.

I've spent a lot of time over the last three years channelling energy into helping others. That is engrained into my DNA and unlikely to change any time soon. But over the coming months, I think it is time to redirect some resource into where I want to be in three years time. This starts with my course. Where it ends we will have to see.

Bon anniversaire le placement blog