Alex Gardner – “Housing in Hong Kong”, Centre of Comparative Housing Research, Business & Law Faculty Frontrunner
Why I chose to be a Frontrunner
I chose to undertake a Frontrunners placement because, heading into my final year, my module choices meant I was unable to write a dissertation. Though a lot of students don’t enjoy writing dissertations, they definitely provide you with a lot of skills that normal modules don’t. So applying for a research position which also required a written report at the end allowed me to study what I wanted as part of my degree, but also gain the dissertation skills too! This, plus DMU training, a high-quality part-time job, and a genuinely interesting placement, made Frontrunners a great option!
One of the highlights of my placement was when I was awarded a bursary from an industry body for my research. This meant that my research wasn’t just important to DMU but also to the wider housing industry, and following its completion it would also be published in an anthology, along with other works. The experience has helped me build contacts in the industry, and has also made my work much more important and useful on a larger scale.
Long-term benefits of being a Frontrunner
I’ve also really enjoyed working with the staff at DMU. My manager, Jo, has been really helpful and supportive throughout my placement. As a Frontrunner, it’s understood that I have deadlines and need some flexibility in my workload, and Jo has been a tremendous help there. She also encouraged me to undertake Equality & Diversity and Project Management training, both of which will be useful in my future. It’s also handy to have such a strong connection, as Jo was kind enough to write a reference for me, which helped me gain an internship in China after university!
Also, I had an office in Hugh Aston, which was pretty useful not only for my placement work, but for revision and degree-related work too. Not many part-time jobs give you that benefit!
If you get a chance to become a Frontrunner, do it!
If a student asked me for advice as to whether or not they should do a Frontrunners placement, I would say “Absolutely; do it!” These are great positions that are much better than any other part-time jobs I’ve ever had. They’re flexible, high quality, highly valued and fun too! I think that if you say ‘yes’ to opportunities, other doors open as well. With Frontrunners I’ve received formal training, an industry bursary, worked at DMU Open Days, participated in the DMU Policy Commission, made connections that will help my career and made friends all at the same time! Frontrunners is a great opportunity and I think all students, if they have the chance, should take it!