Government placement year works wonders for Jessica's career


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Making a good impression during her year-long work placement has earned Jessica Watson a sought-after government research role.

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Since graduating with a First in Mathematics from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) this year, Jessica has been working for the Government Operational Research Service (GORS).

As an Operational Research Analyst within the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) human resources (HR) department, Jessica has been collaborating with HR professionals, senior managers and the Chief People Officer to analyse employee retention.

The 22-year-old from Leicester said: “I’m looking into what drives engagement and ways to improve their experience over the entire employee lifecycle.

“There’s a lot of job satisfaction. Seeing changes taking place based on your work is very rewarding.

“I’m really looking forward to providing key analysis on the annual People Survey and presenting its results in the new year.”

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Jessica believes that her placement year at GORS was instrumental to securing her graduate role.

“Doing a placement is like getting ahead of the game before the game has even started,” she said.

“It makes you more mature and professional. The work culture really stays with you when you’re back at university, so it also prepares you for the final year of your degree and for job interviews.”

As a predictive analyst within HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) during her work placement, Jessica had the chance to build models for collecting international debt more efficiently.

Using her initiative, she created an interactive digital map showing the UK’s international debt, utilising software and languages such as SAS and SQL to programme it. Her work was well-received around the department and she was asked to present it at the MoJ’s Data Science Conference.

She said: “Presenting my work to the head of international debt and other big officials was a really valuable experience for me, and good preparation for my dissertation. The conference itself was a fantastic way to network and talk to people about graduate jobs on offer.”

During her placement, Jessica was particularly pleased with the opportunities available to her.

“If you’re thinking of going for a placement at GORS I totally recommend it. They offer employees 100 hours of professional development, regardless of whether you’re a permanent member of staff, in a graduate role, or a placement student,” she said.

“I was never treated like a student and was rewarded for putting myself out there. I had a mentor and supportive managers who spent a year training me, so it felt like they were preparing me to come back in a graduate position.”

Jessica attributes part of her placement success to the quality of her course at DMU. She said: “My Mathematics degree at DMU has a real focus on getting an actual job - there’s lots of theory but you learn about its application too.

“You’re taught to use industry standard software like SAS, which put me a step ahead at HMRC, as well as how to code, and doing presentations about your work really helps to build your confidence. Also, the tutors are so supportive - we’re like a close-knit community.”

Mathematics BSc (Hons) at DMU can be studied as a three-year full-time degree, or over four years to accommodate a one-year work placement. It has joint SAS certification and is accredited by the IMA.

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Posted on Tuesday 17th December 2019

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