Hannah Dudley from Toothill School came to NTU for her work experience in October 2012 as an Economics research assistant. Here’s how she found it;
Why economics? The dictionary said itwas the study of the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services, or the material welfare of humankind. Sounds a bit dry right. I was in year 11 and thinking about A level options with only a hazy idea of what I might like to study at university. I knew I had an initial interest in economics (I was studying it at GCSE) but was unaware of the bearing it had on every aspect of our lives.
Take for example the relationships the UK has with other nations, always underpinned by economics in the transfer of wealth, capital, goods and services between them. It was a global language that I knew little about, and with the collapse of global markets in 2008 it seemed as if this language was going to become more important than ever. News coverage focused on the impending doom of the world’s largest economies, suddenly economics was having a very real impact on my life. Governments were forced to make critical decisions – tuition fees hike anyone? I needed to find out more.
My interest peaked and I set about looking for any hands on, practical work experience I could get. I knew my school had links with Nottingham Trent University so I contacted NTU about a potential economics placement. The placement was set for a week in autumn at the Newton Building, as it approached my nervous excitement began to grow (with emphasis on the nervousness).
On my first day I met the Professor I would be shadowing, he introduced the topics we would be discussing including the economics surrounding the European Union. I had full access to the university library and picked up the biggest economics textbook I could find! During the week I had the chance to discuss the issues surrounding the EU and the structure of the various institutions with the professor on a one to one basis.
The week greatly improved my confidence and the depth of discussion provided a valuable insight into the economic landscape of modern society. Most importantly the placement developed my analytical and critical thinking skills. The economic issues facing society and institutions are rarely clear, and multiple opinions are presented on any one issue, therefore it was incredibly useful to develop skills to better understand these problems. Overall it proved to be a fantastic experience and a great introduction to university life.
Since the placement I have used my improved analytical and critical thinking skills to enter the Royal Economic Society Young Economist of the Year Essay competition. The competition involved researching and writing an essay on the economic implications for an Independent Scotland. To my surprise I came joint third in the competition winning £250 prize money and an invitation to the Royal Economic Society public lecture. There is no doubt that participating in the placement provided me with the passion and skills to work at this level.
My advice to anyone interested in pursuing similar subjects is to try and participate in any programmes offered, like those at NTU – they improve confidence and develop analytical skills as well as providing a valuable insight into university life.